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Posing As Reagan


Over at Outside The Beltway, Doug Mataconis makes a very salient point while discussing some comments that Senator Lindsey Graham made regarding the Tea Party phenomenon movement. First, Graham's comments:
"The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” Now he said, in a tone of casual lament: “We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.” Chortling, he added, “Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”
...to which Doug responds:
The Ronald Reagan that governed for eight years in the 80s was, in many ways, very different from the mythos that many on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have created of a tax-cutting, hawkish foreign policy-following conservative icon. For example, Reagan raised taxes more than once during his eight years in office, he supported an immigration reform bill that granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, and while he did rebuild a decaying American military, he was also fiercely opposed to nuclear weapons and believed that they should be abolished from the planet.

Would such a candidate have a chance in the Tea Party Republican Party of 2010? It’s hard to say, but it’s by no means certain that he would be as lovingly received as he is remembered.
... and it was that question that got me thinking: If someone ran for office and mirrored every position that Ronald Reagan had held in his political career, would they be able to get elected by Republicans?

Clearly, there are many more factors that must be taken into account in order to really evaluate that question. But, if I were to guess, in the current political climate in the Republican party (and the conservative movement generally), Ronald Wilson Reagan himself would have a really tough time getting elected.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if a candidate for either state-wide or national office were to adopt every policy position that Reagan ever held, including all of the positions that Doug listed, said candidate would be scorned and shunned by the likes of Glenn Beck and the Tea Partyers.

They might even be called a "RINO"...

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Photo: Wally McNamee/Corbis