Ronald Reagan would have a "tough time" finding a place in today's GOP, according to Rep. Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican who was pummelled in a June primary by a conservative challenger. The late former president was an "optimist" who made others "believe in America" as he did, Inglis told The Hill. But today's "snarling" Tea Partiers and other conservative activists are trying to sway voters and control party leaders with the politics of fear and division. Would Reagan, as Inglis suggests, lack the cynical ferocity to survive in the current GOP landscape? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about Reagan and the Tea Party)
Reagan would be out of his element: The Tea Party has pushed the GOP so far to the right that Reagan would find it inhospitable, says Ron Chusid at Liberal Values. His tax increases, in particular, would have been rejected by the Tea Partiers. But he's not the only Republican icon who would be out-of-sync with today's conservatives — "Barry Goldwater, often called an early leader of the conservative movement, was a strong opponent of the religious right and social conservatism."
"Ronald Reagan wouldn't fit into today's GOP"
Reagan was the original Tea Party conservative: Inglis is just trying to make the folks who pushed him out of office look like extremists, says B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot. At various points, Reagan used Tea Party–esque talking points, warning about the growth of the federal government and "its emerging intrusion into every aspect of our lives." The speech he gave to support Barry Goldwater in 1964, for instance, "sounds a lot like the Tea Party manifesto."
"How Tea Party candidates are like Ronald Reagan"
The establishment didn't like Reagan at first, either: Don't forget that Reagan evoked "principled politics" and upset the establishment, much like the Tea Party, when he took on Gerald Ford, a sitting GOP president, in 1976, says political commentator Mark Levin on Facebook. Ford even went so far as to blame his subsequent loss to Jimmy Carter on Reagan's primary challenge. Maybe it's the GOP establishment that doesn't have a place in today's political landscape.
"Those who oppose Tea Party Movement would have opposed Reagan Revolution"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- Making officers more diverse isn't enough to stop police violence
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
Subscribe to the Week