Ronald Reagan's America - Vol. 1

By Eric J. Schmertz; Natalie Datlof et al. | Go to book overview

did not, surely played a major role, and Bush was hurt not only by his abandonment of Reaganism but his apparent lack of any core convictions at all.

Nevertheless, it is at least arguable that economic performance was tied to public philosophy in more than a random manner, and it is certainly true that the economic troubles that deprived Bush of the presidency would have been politically mitigated had his other mistakes not destroyed his coalitional base of support. The unemployment rate in November 1992, after all, was not significantly different from the unemployment rate in November 1984, when Ronald Reagan won 49 states. Elections are still won with coalitions of voters constructed by skillful political figures, not with economic statistics alone, as the demise of the Fair model in 1992 demonstrated again. 29

The coalition based on Ronald Reagan's blend of Jeffersonianism and Hamiltonianism won three elections in a row but came apart at the seams on November 3, 1992, a victim more of suicide than of homicide. Such a coalition could conceivably be revived, but the very difficulty in doing so is a testament to Reagan's political skills and philosophical instincts. The battle in the Republican Party that started on November 4 will largely be a battle over who, if anyone, can reconstruct a conservative public philosophy with similar popular appeal.


NOTES
1.
See Donald Barr Chidsey, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Jefferson ( New York: Thomas Nelson, 1975); Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton( Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1925). Also Morton Borden, Parties and Politics in the Early Republic ( Arlington Heights, Ill.: AHM Publishing, 1967); Frank Van Der Linden, The Turning Point.- Jefferson's Battle for the Presidency ( Washington, D.C.: Robert B. Luce, 1962), pp. 2-11; John C. Miller, The Federalist Era ( New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960); Joseph Charles, The Origins of the American Party System ( New York: Harper and Row, 1956); John Quincy Adams, Parties in the United States ( New York: Greenberg, 1941).
2.
Daniel J. Boorstin, The Genius of American Politics ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), pp. 16-17. See also Albert Fried, ed., The Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian Traditions in American Politics ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968); Louis M. Hacker, Alexander Hamilton in the American Tradition ( New York: McGrawHill, 1957).
3.
See Fried, Traditions, p. 8.
4.
First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801, Merril D. Peterson, ed., The Portable Thomas Jefferson ( New York: Viking Press, 1975), p. 293.
5.
See "Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank", February 15, 1791, in Peterson, Portable Jefferson, pp. 261-67.
6.
See Federalist 1, p. 35. For similar themes, see also Federalist23,26, 30, 31, 33, and 70-73.

-51-

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