If Reagan Is The Best Conservatives Can Do, We’re Doomed
Republicans have spent the last 30 years looking for “the next Reagan”. Well, even if we find him we’re not going to be in such great shape.
This is from an email I sent in reply to someone who wrote in regards to the idea the country is not conservative at its core, “we thought we turned it [the leftward movement of the country] a little during the Reagan era but made the mistake of thinking we’d won’
Reagan campaigned against Medicare as socialism when it was proposed. He did nothing to it as President. He couldn’t. In 15 years it became sacrosanct.
He didn’t reform Social Security in any free market way, he raised FICA taxes to “extend” the life of Social Security:
“In 1983, for example, he signed off on Social Security reform legislation that, among other things, accelerated an increase in the payroll tax rate, required that higher-income beneficiaries pay income tax on part of their benefits, and required the self-employed to pay the full payroll tax rate, rather than just the portion normally paid by employees.”
He ran on eliminating two government departments. He wound up creating a new one (the VA).
Even his most ardent supporters admit he didn’t cut spending, just held the line.
“Most importantly, Reagan kept spending close to historical averages during his presidency. Federal spending during peacetime has traditionally fluctuated between 18-22% of GDP in the post-World War II era, and the federal government’s outlays remained within the range of 22-23.5% of output throughout the Reagan presidency.”
I’d go back to all of that in heartbeat but let’s no over romanticize the early 80s as a period in which small government conservationism was changing the basic nature of the welfare state. People did what they always do…they voted for more stuff that someone else should pay for.
Reagan was the best communicator of our message we’re likely to see in our lifetimes and that’s what we got and just for a short time. That’s why I’m not down on the notion we’re just a few tweaks of candidates away from victory and saving the country.
You can say, but he had to deal with Democrats! True but that’s the point….even when we had our once in a lifetime communicator, the country still voted for Democrats in the House and for most of his term the Senate.
We can’t even nominate a solid conservative for President now but somehow we’re going to also find 51-60 great conservative Senators and 218 in the House? That seems…unlikely.
The country is getting what it wants. It just doesn’t want the same thing as conservatives.