10 January 2009

A Misremembered Reagan, A Misplaced Party?

Remember the Republican presidential primaries? Remember the candidates espousing differing variations on Reagan worship, defining him as the be-all-and-end-all of Republican politicians? the same thing happened at a recent debate between candidates for the RNC leadership. Alex Massie has some advice for those who wish to recapture GOP glory: knock it off. Too many people are wistful for an imaginary Ronald Reagan and not the real President Reagan, a man who recognized the nation’s diversity in thought and population, who understood that the GOP needed to have a “wide tent” in order to maintain appeal, and who “was a vastly more adaptable President than current conservative folklore might have you believe.” (Massie). Folks have forgotten this Reagan, and, as Massie writes,

the Idea of Reagan has overtaken the Reaganite reality. Consequently Republicans seem to have misconstrued the premises upon which they based their decision to sanctify Reagan in the first-place. The god they worship is not the god who actually existed. The apparent simplicity of the GOP mantra - strong national defence, tax cuts and, er, that's it - becomes a liability when the party faces an intelligent, charismatic, adaptable opponent who seems better prepared to meet the complex challenges of a complex world right now, not the challenges that faced the United States nearly 30 years ago.

Unlike Reagan himself, too many in the GOP see no reason to adapt to the times. Too many cling to the imaginary Reagan and brook little, or no, dissent. They disdain “widening the tent” and commit themselves to the tenets of the now-defunct “Reagan Revolution.” They condemn moderate Republicans as the reason for their losses in Congress.

If it continues thus, they’ll have a longer time in the wilderness than they hope.

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