Change is often most acceptable to the American polity when it is championed by leaders whose credentials defending the positive aspects of the status quo are beyond reproach. This is doubly true when it comes to programs with widespread and emotional support.
Only Nixon could go to China, to be sure, but it goes beyond that. Only Clinton, a Democrat, could have pushed welfare reform through Congress. Only Eisenhower, a Republican with unbeatable credentials on national defense, could not only slash a bloated Department of Defense, he was also able to raid defense funds to build the Interstate Highway System. And who but a Republican like Teddy Roosevelt could have taken on the oligarchs and robber barons?
Knowing this, we have to build our legislative manifestos accordingly, having the political courage and the vision to take on vested interests on our side of the aisle rather than pander to them. This is the essence of public service.