John Allan Peschong | March 2, 2014

We asked Democrat Zaf Iqbal to tell us which Republican leaders he most admires and Republican John Peschong to give us a list of his favorite Democrats. There was one caveat: at least one or two had to be among the living.

Throughout our nation’s history, there have been great leaders — both Democrat and Republican. The ability to work across the aisle and solve matters in a bipartisan fashion and to lead in a decisive and resolute manner are defining qualities that we should all look for in those leading our nation. In the spirit of bipartisanship, I have included five Democrats who I believe have met and surpassed this call of duty.

President Andrew Jackson

Jackson, the first president of the Democrat Party, was also the first and only president to pay off the entire national debt. His fiscal conservatism, respect for individual and states’ rights and his endorsement of a more limited federal government earn him the top spot on my list.

President Harry Truman

After avoiding an invasion of Japan that was sure to lead to the death of tens of thousands of American troops, Truman ordered the use of the first atomic bomb that ended World War II.

A few months ago, I met a 90-year-old Marine that fought during WWII. He spent a number of years battling the Japanese Army on many different islands in the Pacific Ocean. Every year he was told by his commander that the war was almost over and he would be back home for Christmas. Time after time when Christmas rolled around, he was still fighting the Japanese Army. This Marine told me that “if Harry Truman had not made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese mainland, I would still be fighting in the Pacific.”

I believe President Truman deserved to be honored for his decision.

President John F. Kennedy

Low taxes promote economic growth and job creation.

President Kennedy made my list because he agreed. In 1962, Kennedy said, “This administration intends to cut taxes in order to build the fundamental strength of our economy,

to remove a serious barrier to longterm growth, to increase incentives … and to prevent the even greater budget deficit.”

After enacting across-the-board cuts, our economy experienced tremendous growth.

President Ronald Reagan

President Reagan could make the top of both my “favorite Democrat” and “favorite Republican” lists.

Few know that before 1962, Reagan was a full-fledged union Democrat. He then registered Republican and eventually was elected president.

Under Reagan, our nation experienced a massive economic boom and the world saw the fall of the Soviet Union.

For these reasons, among many others, this former Democrat claims a top spot on my list.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

In recent history, no one has done more to unite the Republican Party than former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

When she proclaimed, “We need to pass the bill (Affordable Care Act) to see what is in it,” it united Republicans across the nation. She has also gone so far as to say, “The Affordable Care Act is bringing down the cost of health care in our country in both the public and private sector, and that is what is largely responsible for bringing the deficit down.”

I applaud Nancy Pelosi for helping to unify the Republican Party like no one can.

I do wish she had just read the Affordable Care Act before she voted on it. If she had, maybe my health insurance policy would not have been canceled.

The Democratic Party is the home of the only president to ever completely pay down the national debt, pragmatists John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and the great unifier, Nancy Pelosi. As we look to the future, we hope that our nation’s leaders — both Republican and Democrat — lead in the same decisive, resolute and capable manner that these great leaders have in the past.

John Allan Peschong served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration and as a senior strategist for the campaigns of President George W. Bush. He is a founding partner of Meridian Pacific Inc., a public relations and affairs company, and serves as chairman of the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party.


Should Richard Nixon be on the list of greatest Republicans? Does Nancy Pelosi rank up there with Harry Truman and John Kennedy? Does Ronald Reagan even belong on a list of Democrats? And why no love for FDR? No matter your political persuasion, we’d like to know who you rank as the nation’s greatest elected leaders. Write us at

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