Would Ronald Reagan fit into the 'snarling' Tea Party?

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) says the optimistic, inspiring GOP icon would not be welcomed by the angry, divisive activists of today

Ronald Reagan, seen here campaigning in 1980, might not have been asked to Tea.
(Image credit: Corbis)

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"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

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"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.