The Republican presidential candidates love to point to President Reagan as the inspiration for everything they do.
And that’s understandable. Given the passage of time, President Reagan is almost universally loved.
But this new wholesale worship of The Gipper ignores an inconvenient truth, as the Economist pointed out this weekend:
Today, Ronald Reagan could never win the GOP nomination.
Because he was too reasonable.
Unlike today’s Republicans, who have become a party of right-wing ideological extremists, Reagan:
- Raised taxes when he needed to
- Supported tougher environmental legislation
- Flip-flopped (early in his career, he was a Democrat)
- Raised gas taxes
- Enacted tariffs to protect American industries
- Was initially pro-choice
- Supported huge government spending projects
- Took on massive government debt
- And so on…
Imagine a Republican candidate trying to win the GOP nomination with these outrageous beliefs today. The man would be howled out of town!
The broader story here, as the Economist observes, is that the Great Silent Majority of reasonable Americans are being ignored in the rush to pander to extremists. This, by the way, is happening on both sides of the aisle, as Republicans fight about who plans to cut government spending and taxes the most and Obama turns to fat-cat bashing and class warfare.
The answer to the country’s problems lies in the middle, with a candidate who can mobilize reasonable people, not extremists, and take the painful but necessary (and reasonable) steps to getting the country back on track.
These steps will involve both raising taxes (gradually, on those who can afford it) AND cutting government spending. And the sooner the country grows up and realises that, the better.
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