Magazine article USA TODAY

There Is No "Beyond Reagan"

Magazine article USA TODAY

There Is No "Beyond Reagan"

Article excerpt

THERE ARE ONGOING discussions and debates among conservatives about the kind of president Barack Obama will prove to be--although his earmarks-loaded stimulus bill and plans for nationalizing health care and redistributing the nation's wealth already have gone a long way toward answering that question--and about how they should react to him. Yet, there is a larger and more important debate going on within conservatism--a debate about what conservatism is. Remarkably, we are heating from a lot of people who are thought to be conservatives that conservatives need to "get beyond Reagan." After all, these people say, "The Reagan era is over." Of course, the liberal media loves to print the articles and broadcast the pronouncements to this effect. My response is, well, yes, the Reagan era is over in the sense that it has been 20 years since Ronald Reagan was president. The funny thing is, I never heard the liberals saying that, because the era of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was over, they needed to "get beyond FDR." They did not say that 35 years later when Reagan first was elected, or when he was reelected in 1984. They did not say that when the liberals lost Congress in the 1994 election, nor did they say it after the 2000 or 2004 elections. In stead, they kept arguing and fighting for the ideas they believe in--and now Pres. Obama is reviving (in word and deed) the era of FDR.

So, why are some so-called conservatives today contending that we need to "get beyond Reagan," by which they mean that we need to abandon the ideas that Reagan stood for? To understand the roots of this argument, we only have to look back to the years when Reagan first emerged onto the national scene. There was a lot of resentment at that time among many of the elites in the Republican Party because Reagan had not gone to the right schools: he did not come from the right part of the country; he had been an actor rather than a lawyer; he was a bumbling dunce; he was an extremist who was too far outside the mainstream to win; and so on. People have been making these kinds of arguments for a long time. They were saying that conservatives needed to get beyond Reagan even before the Reagan era began. A few of them are the same people. Many of them are new but, what they have in common is that none of them agree with the principles that Reagan stood for--and I would argue that this means that they are not conservatives.

Today, the get-beyond-Reagan discussions often are put in so-called pragmatic terms of needing to create blocs of voters who will support the Republican Party and, in order to accomplish this, all that conservatives have to do, these self-proclaimed smart people say, is embrace the idea of big government, because that is what the American people want and because only so-called big-government conservatives will be able to create blocs of voters by spending money to do them favors. In answer to this, one has to ask the question--and I am being a real pragmatist myself here--what is left for government to spend on these days? It already is bailing people out right and left with taxpayer money that the government does not have. The spigot was turned on under Pres. George W. Bush. The current Administration has been even more generous in terms of bailouts, and it looks like the Obama people are just getting started. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.