Sunday, May 13, 2012

Could Ronald Reagan survive in today's Republican Party?

I've heard this comment many times. Former President and god to the Republicans could not get the presidential nomination in today's Tea Party dominated Republican party. The argument being that the party has swung so far right that even Reagan would no longer be welcome. Those ideas are now coming from Republicans. Former Nebraska U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel told "The Cable" this:

"Reagan would be stunned by the party today, .... Reagan wouldn't identify with this party. There's a streak of intolerance in the Republican Party today that scares people. Intolerance is a very dangerous thing in a society because it always leads to a tragic ending," Ronald Reagan was never driven by ideology. He was a conservative but he was a practical conservative. He wanted limited government but he used government and he used it many times. And he would work with the other party."

After losing the Indiana GOP U.S. senate primary, Richard Lugar who is a moderate said this about the direction of the Republican Party :

"We are experiencing deep political divisions in our society right now, and these divisions have stalemated progress in critical areas."

Lugar criticized his Republican opponent Richard Mourdock, who was a darling of the Tea Party, by saying in a statement, "[H]is embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate.

Mordock in his victory speech attacked President Obama, Democrats and liberals,

"Today we see the Obama White House and we see a Senate chaired by Harry Reid that's doing everything it can -- though perhaps not intentionally -- to turn our dreams, to turn our great national hope and our dream into the nightmare of ever-growing government, to make us that … western European-style nation,... Just yesterday, France elected a socialist, ... There are those I'm sure in the administration and in the left side of the Democratic Party that were cheering for that. But we're not going to stand for that in Indiana because the supporters of Barack Obama are not going to win!"

Calling Democrats socialists is nothing new. It happened under Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R. Wis.) in the fifites. That was when McCarthy went on his witch hunt for Communists in American society.

Today's Republican Party with the help of the Tea Party have moved to the far right. Gone are Gerald Fords, Nelson Rockefellers, and now Richard Lugar of the moderate wing of the party. When I was younger, I supported George H. W. Bush when he ran for president in 1980. He was a moderate. And if you think this is partisan ranting by a liberal, the University of Georgia did a study which indicated the Republican Party has moved to the far right. Here's the story on that study.

The question remains. Could Ronald Reagan survive in today's Republican Party? Well, survive is one thing. He certainly would have trouble winning the nomination since at times he worked with Democrats. Reagan's theory of supply side economics and pro-life policies would certainly find a home with today's Republican Party. But the compromises and the fact that Reagan raised taxes would kill him. So, he probably would not get the presidential nomination.

The bigger irony is that father of conservatism, former Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) would probably be drummed out of the Republican Party. Goldwater took on the religious right, now a foundation of the modern Republican Party. He supported pro-choice positions. And he did not want to ban gays in the military. Those positions are outside of the modern Republican Party. What would they call him? A liberal?

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