Ronald Reagan’s party could easily win the 2016 presidential race if it were to show up, but it hasn’t.
The preceding statement reflects the thinking of plenty of Americans who proudly voted for President Reagan. In a commentary for the Guardian Liberty Voice, Lydia Bradbury writes the following.
One might claim that the current GOP still stands for equality for everyone, but that claim is difficult to support in the light of the fact that numerous Republicans are openly opposed to equality when it comes to who may obtain a government document called a marriage license.
It is one thing to object to same-sex marriage for religious reasons. It is another thing to want to restrict who can receive a government-issued document. Way too many Republicans can’t tell the difference between the two.
Another way that today’s GOP isn’t Reagan’s GOP is reflected in a 2011 commentary by Rex Nutting.
The Republican Party has long favored low tax rates as a way to encourage economic efficiency, but its leaders have always recognized that some taxation is necessary and good. Under the old Republican philosophy, the purpose of taxation is to raise the revenues needed by the government. They believed, in theory, that the government shouldn’t spend money it didn’t have, so sufficient revenues were needed.
Ronald Reagan cut taxes dramatically in his first year in office, but when the deficits rose, he smartly agreed to raise taxes 12 times, including a broad tax-reform bill that eliminated many loopholes and removed many provisions of the tax code that distorted economic incentives.
Today’s Republican Party has abandoned the principle that some taxation is necessary. The party has fully bought into the “starve-the-beast” rhetoric espoused by Grover Norquist and other anti-tax zealots. It has adopted a rigid libertarian philosophy that equates taxation to tyranny, which argues that the government has no right to your money. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean all taxes are immoral.
Some life-long Republicans are openly opposing the current GOP. In a 2012 blog post, military retiree Jerry Hannon writes, “I’ve been a Republican for nearly fifty years, since I was first able to vote. But most of the GOP of today is alien to the principles of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, and it has taken on a tone that is even alien to the principles of my Christian faith. Wonderful public servants like Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe have been driven from our party, and the formerly broad tent of our party is becoming exclusivist and even a Taliban-like enforcer of ideological extremism.”
In an interview with The Cable, former Nebraska GOP senator Chuck Hagel states, “Reagan wouldn’t identify with this [Republican] 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.”
In a 2012 commentary, Bruce Bartlett writes, “I worked for Ronald Reagan and believe he was a great president. But he was not a radical who made extravagant claims or sought to destroy government, as most Republicans appear willing to do today. He believed in conservative governance and getting things done, and if bending on principle was necessary, then so be it. I think Republicans would be better off emulating the real Ronald Reagan and less demanding rigid adherence to unachievable principles.”
In fairness, it should be said that today’s GOP isn’t as bad as anti-GOP zealots make it out to be. Still, the modern GOP has succeeded in driving away people who normally vote for Republicans.
President Reagan is often quoted as saying, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” Now, there are Republicans who are saying . . .