Ronald Reagan Was a Liberal
I am confused these days by the foaming dissent of those on the political right when it comes to Presidential candidates and their nearly impossible set of standards to measure if each one is ‘conservative enough’. Those on the right lament that this candidate is too liberal on this and that candidate is too soft on that. If you dare voice support for someone in the GOP field you are heading into dangerous waters, especially for those who demand strict adherence to a conservative code that allows very little wiggle room.
Unless you think Ted Cruz is the answer, which so far I remain very much unconvinced of this notion, you are yourself labeled as too far left. I know because this has been happening to me as of late. I would expect those of you that are regular listeners have come to a different conclusion over time.
Lets start with a couple very important stipulations; first of all and most importantly my politics begin at home and always have. I am an America and I proud to say so. I cast my votes in elections based on my best guess on the best choice for the future of the country. I believe in America and feel incredibly blessed for having been born here and the privilege to live here. I feel the same way for my children, one of which proudly voted for Barack Obama at least one time. She was able to vote freely in a nation where she has the opportunity to pursue her dreams, whatever they may be, and to have deep passionate political discussions about where this country needs to go or say nothing at all. It’s a wonderful thing we call liberty.
Unfortunately over the past few years those on the right and left have continued to polarize the 80% that occupy what I’ll call the political middle ground. I think we need a pragmatist that is willing to weigh matters on merit and debate such things openly. We’ve not enjoyed that under the Obama administration and instead have been kept in the dark over and over again. Too many times the Republicans have been complicit in this deceitful behavior.
It’s at about this point in the conversation that someone, claiming to be a conservative evokes the name of the Savior himself- Ronald Reagan. I loved Ronald Reagan and really believe we could use such a man today. First and foremost he was a man who was a true believer. America really was the shining city on the hill for him but I doubt he could get past the hard right Republicans today. I don’t think Reagan could win a single primary. Why? Well that’s pretty simple, because based on todays strict standards Reagan was far too liberal for todays crew.
Let me give you some clear examples-
The best place to start any conversation about politics and whether a candidate is conservative enough is guns. How would the National Rifle Association score Reagan by todays standards? Well not very well I’m guessing. In an Op-Ed piece published in the The New York Times on March 29, 1991, Reagan openly endorsed the Brady Gun Control bill. Reagan wrote in part;
Named for Jim Brady, this legislation would establish a national seven-day waiting period before a handgun purchaser could take delivery. It would allow local law enforcement officials to do background checks for criminal records or known histories of mental disturbances. Those with such records would be prohibited from buying the handguns.
Reagan went even further by singling out those that would object to such measures by writing this:
Critics claim that "waiting period" legislation in the states that have it doesn't work, that criminals just go to nearby states that lack such laws to buy their weapons. True enough, and all the more reason to have a Federal law that fills the gaps. While the Brady bill would not apply to states that already have waiting periods of at least seven days or that already require background checks, it would automatically cover the states that don't. The effect would be a uniform standard across the country.
Even with the current gaps among states, those that have waiting periods report some success. California, which has a 15-day waiting period that I supported and signed into law while Governor, stopped nearly 1,800 prohibited handgun sales in 1989. New Jersey has had a permit-to-purchase system for more than two decades. During that time, according to the state police, more than 10,000 convicted felons have been caught trying to buy handguns.
Reagan summed it up this way;
This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.
I mean lets be perfectly honest this op-ed alone should have folks ripping Reagans picture off the wall of John Birch Society get togethers. But it gets worse.
Reagan negotiated with terrorists. This is something everyone knows but conservatives try to bury it and pretend it never happened. There were at least 8 shipments to Iran, yes that Iran over about 14 months. Some of the weapons were actually shipped through Israel, Israel!
This should also be enough for Tea Party activists to toss his picture in the garbage but nobody focuses on those things and other shortcomings. Why? Simple, Ronald Reagan on balance, was the greatest President of my lifetime, at least so far.
Here is a short list of great accomplishments: first, he wasn’t Jimmy Carter- Thank God. Second- he created the roadmap to beat the Russians and destroy the Soviet Union on the principle that America is the greatest nation ever. Reagan inherited an economy destroyed by liberal policies and malaise, including stifling tax rates, 20% mortgage rates, skyrocketing unemployment- and he turned it around, beginning with The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. During the 80’s private domestic investment rose 77%, economic growth averaged 4.6% and in a single decade the total tax collections doubled from $500 Billion to $1 Trillion dollars, why? Because Americans at all levels went to work and earned more than they ever had.
He also deregulated oil prices, turning loose an incredible wave of cheap energy that powered America for 25 years. Maybe most importantly he created Individual Retirement Accounts, IRA’s for millions of Americans to save for their golden years. That’s right Ronald Reagan gave birth to the investor class.
Reagan knew America was then and is now an exceptional nation that is unparalleled in world history.
BUT Sadly- by todays standards, Reagan would not even get through the early primary season. You see his stand on guns, and terror and other issues would have been the end of it.
The moral of the story is this- there is no perfect candidate and if you think there is you are part of the paralyzing problem in the nation today. The first and most important thing is to find a candidate to win the White House. I believe it will be someone more like John Kasich than Ted Cruz- oh boy there I go again saying it out loud.
Let the hate mail commence.