Ronald Reagan's America - Vol. 1

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

appears to be an astute student of political history. His own style reflects certain characteristics of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. It also reflects certain elements of Ronald Reagan. Clinton was a candidate of progress -- progress defined as jobs, productivity, and economic growth. While this was clearly an echo of Roosevelt and Kennedy, it was also a rejection of the electorally unsuccessful politics of Carter and Mondale. Clinton's victory shows that the Democratic party with the right candidate and the right message can break the so-called Republican lock on the electoral college. The key to breaking that lock is to regain the allegiance of those famous Reagan Democrats. To bring the Reagan Democrats back into the Democratic fold requires a candidate and a message that resemble the candidacy and message of Ronald Reagan. It seems that for the near future, successful Democratic candidates have to be "me too" Democrats. It was perhaps in recognition of this or in fear of what was happening to political liberalism that a panel was offered at the 1992 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association on the topic, "Do We Need a Second Republican Party?"

As the different components of the conservative coalition struggle among themselves to gain control of the Republican party, school will be out on the extent to which Reagan was able to reform American conservatism. But he was certainly the instrumental figure in forging a new political consensus for both parties for the foreseeable future. In the process, he gave both conservatism and this new consensus sound and generous principles and a most eloquent voice.


NOTES
1.
Morton J. Frisch and Richard Stevens, eds., American Political Thought: The Philosophic Dimension of American Statesmanship ( New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), pp. 16-18.
2.
A good political history of this period is Michael Barone, Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan ( New York: Free Press, 1990). Norman Podhoretz , Breaking Ranks: A Political Memoir ( New York: Harper and Row, 1979) is an interesting personal account of the politics of the late 1960s and 1970s. Reagan himself gives interesting accounts of this same period in two of his speeches: "Remarks on Accepting the GOP Presidential Nomination," August 23, 1984, and "Remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference," March 1, 1985. Both of these speeches are conveniently found in Ronald Reagan, Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989).
3.
Charles Murray, Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-80 ( New York: Basic Books, 1984).
4.
"Text of Presidential Debate between Anderson and Reagan," in Congressional Quarterly ( September 7, 1980), p, 2865.
5.
Ronald Reagan, "Farewell Address to the Nation," January 11, 1989, in Reagan, Speaking My Mind, pp. 417-18.
6.
I have addressed this dimension of Reagan's thought more fully in Paul Peterson,

-78-

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