Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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What Would Reagan Do?
by Lee

If, as expected, the GOP loses its ass in the elections, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves.  Why?  For abandoning true conservatism.

A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, “government is not the answer to our problems—government is the problem.”

The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

Discretionary spending grew from $649 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $968 billion in fiscal year 2005, an increase of $319 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country’s problems.

Americans had a slightly different perspective when it came to the specific issue of promoting traditional values. A slight majority—51 percent—said they thought that was an appropriate activity for government, while 43 percent said it should not favor any particular set of values.

The sampling error for the questions in the poll, conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corporation, was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Here’s the deal.  Americans, as a group, are fiscally conservative and socially libertarian.  You know, like the GOP used to be.  Now they’re fiscally liberal and socially conservative. And (gasp!) the people are probably going to throw them out on their corrupt asses.

A huge GOP loss in 2006 would be the best possible thing for 2008.  Let the party slink away in disgrace, lick its wounds, and figure out exactly what the hell it means to be a conservative again.  How do you appeal to the majority of Americans?

WWRD.

Posted by Lee on 10/30/06 at 08:08 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 10/30/06 at 10:53 PM from United States

Just think, a couple years of Pelosi running congress and we’ll all know what hell on earth is really like…

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/30/06 at 11:32 PM from United States

Seattle Outcast: Not necessarily...if they manage to win I suspect you will see an internal struggle between the moderates and the moonbat leadership. Bush can still veto anything they send his way (if he still remembers how).

Posted by on 10/30/06 at 11:49 PM from United States

There’s an interesting discussion on the Reason website concerning these poll results… They pretty much summed up my feelings on this. As much as I’d like to believe that the majority of Americans are fiscally conservative and socially liberal—in other words, libertarian—I think most people just pay lip service to this ideal. They may be opposed to big government in the abstract, but when it comes to government programs which benefit them, it’s a different story. Once the government spreads into certain industries or starts certain programs, this phenomenon makes it very difficult to reverse the trend.

I have no expectations of seeing a truly conservative/libertarian America in my lifetime. That said, the GOP will likely have to return to the ideals which made Reagan successful and brought about the revolution in Congress in ‘94. At some point down the road, that will happen, but it seems likely that before long we’ll be stuck in the same shitty situation as right now. That’s just the nature of government.

Posted by Lee on 10/30/06 at 11:57 PM from United States

As much as I’d like to believe that the majority of Americans are fiscally conservative and socially liberal—in other words, libertarian—I think most people just pay lip service to this ideal. They may be opposed to big government in the abstract, but when it comes to government programs which benefit them, it’s a different story.

Ah, but here’s the thing.  You’re absolutely right that the majority of Americans favor this position only in the abstract.  What it requires is a strong leader to explain to people why it is important that they follow these abstract ideals.  Reagan could explain these concepts in a manner that the average person could understand and relate with, and we saw how beautifully everything worked.  What we need is another leader with the ability to LEAD a country the way Reagan did.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 12:03 AM from United States

Lee, just wondering… Do you see think any of the possible GOP candidates in 2008 providing that sort of leadership?

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 12:04 AM from United States

"Do you see think...”

Ignore my grammar. I think you know what I meant.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 01:01 AM from United States

What we need is another leader with the ability to LEAD a country the way Reagan did.

But Reagan didn’t actually do any of these things, he just talked about them. He cut taxes, but then had to raise them again four times. He increased the deficit hugely and increased government spending about as much as Carter and Nixon had, in contrast to substantial decreases under Bush I and Clinton. Not one major spending program was cut by Reagan, and federal spending grew by 50% during his presidency. He increased the Federal government by 61,000 employees, in contrast to Clinton’s decrease by 373,000, and pumped an extra $165 billion into social security. His big plans to eliminate the departments of Energy and Education vanished softly and silently away; he added a major cabinet-level department.

I know you guys like to pretend that Reagan was the perfect conservative President, but wouldn’t you rather have someone who actually does shrink the size of government? Skill at saying what you’re going to do is pretty useless if you don’t ever do it. If all you want is talk, hire an actor.

WWRD about the size of government? Probably about what he actually did do. Make it bigger.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 01:47 AM from United States

Was Reagan really socially libertarian?  He talked about getting government off people’s backs, but wasn’t it he who prosecuted and intensified a largely pointless and counterproductive war on drugs, raised the drinking age to 21, drivelled endlessly about family values, etc., etc.?

He wasn’t as repressive as Bush Jr, but I think there is much in his record to dislike.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 04:32 AM from Japan

Was Reagan really socially libertarian?

Bob! PJ! Shhh! Dammit!

You of all people should know that the true meaning of ‘conservative’ is to look back at the Golden Age(TM) as a fantastic era of happiness and wealth and joy and moral tirpitu...er clarity? You guys really want to spoil all the make-believe? Shame on you!

I wonder whatever happened to my old Gorby t-shirt...???

Posted by HARLEY on 10/31/06 at 05:39 AM from United States

Here’s the deal.  Americans, as a group, are fiscally conservative and socially libertarian.  You know, like the GOP used to be.  Now they’re fiscally liberal and socially conservative. And (gasp!) the people are probably going to throw them out on their corrupt asses.

Neither its true Lee, i’m sorry , but you are wrong.
Americans are so divided my ideological thinking that you can make such blanket argument.
Americans are generally happy with government programs that “help” them and are happy to let government “pay” for it. That is not fiscal conservatism, its just socialism lite.

Bob is almost right, Reagan did expand government, and while he was a good leader, failed in some respects.
oh and Clinton’s decrease in government cam from slashing Defence and defence related government programs.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 07:10 AM from United States

The Party of Lincoln has never been the party of limited government and individual freedom except for a brief period when Reagan was in power. The Republicans have always been the party of big, centralized government, conservative wishful thinking aside.

Name a single bonafide conservative in Republican presidental history besides Coolidge or Reagan (he wasn’t as conservative in practice when President). You can’t. Virtually every last one of them from Lincoln to GWB has been the anithesis of constitutional order and conservatism.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 07:44 AM from United States

Just think, a couple years of Pelosi running congress and we’ll all know what hell on earth is really like…

Now, I’m no psychic, but I think there is definitely something to this. As I said here once before, the “anybody but the Republicans” mentality that seems to be present for this election could very easily turn into “anybody but the Democrats” in 08.

For that reason, a huge GOP loss in 06 may not necessarily be the best possible thing for 08. There is always the [large, looming] possibility that the Democrats will screw up so terribly in two years that people will be begging for what we have now to come back.

That would also mean that the Republican Party can sit back, keep its current form, and laugh until the Democrats shoot themselves in the dick.

In that case, the GOP can let the voters come to their waiting, open arms, without really appealing to the majority.

....just a thought, though.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 08:23 AM from United States

PJ: Was Reagan really socially libertarian? He talked about getting government off people’s backs, but wasn’t it he who prosecuted and intensified a largely pointless and counterproductive war on drugs, raised the drinking age to 21, drivelled endlessly about family values, etc., etc.? He wasn’t as repressive as Bush Jr, but I think there is much in his record to dislike.

The War on Drugs started before Reagan was born, and the phrase was coined by Nixon [maybe].

Also, I didn’t know that a president could pass a law to raise the drinking age. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984

Pay close attention to that first line where it says:

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed on July 17, 1984 by the United States Congress

....and on top of that, Congress didn’t specifically raise the drinking age....each state did.

I don’t know if Reagan gets a 100% conservative rating, but at least be fair to him [use facts].

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 08:58 AM from United States

drunkkus -

1) that’s why my posting read “prosecuted and intensified” rather than “initiated”. 
2) indeed, but I didn’t notice Reagan vetoing or threatening to veto the Congressional bill.  His administration supported bullying the states into raising the drinking age, while a libertarian administration would have fought it.

There never has been a truly and consistently socially libertarian government in the history of the US or indeed any other country that I can think of, just as there’s never been an anarchist one.  Governments govern, libertarians want to let people alone.  We’ve faced massively extended state power under most administrations (Johnson, Bush II), slightly extended state power under some (Reagan, Bush I).  But the ratchet has generally been one way.

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 09:07 AM from United States

Hey drunkkus is just pissing in his pants right now. He is pissing and moaning that the miserable failure of this administration is going to cause the most liberal backlash in American history.

I would have told drunkkus before that gay marraige was just a matter of time, but now its inevitable in the next few years. Get ready drunkkus. The Neocon party has taken its nose dive and this country will never be the same again.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 09:29 AM from Australia

Most neocons support gay marriage, Manwhore.

....and on top of that, Congress didn’t specifically raise the drinking age....each state did.

Yeah, right. “Raise your drinking age or we won’t even give you enough federal highway funding to pave the driveway to the Governor’s mansion”. It’s disingenous to claim that was a state thing when it was one of the biggest pieces of federal blackmail in recent times. What’s with the drinking age being 21, anyway? That’s insane. 18 is much more reasonable.

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 09:41 AM from United States

Most neocons support gay marriage, Manwhore.

Oh, really? what the fuck are you smoking? I need some......

If that is in fact the case, why would George Bush use his soapbox yesterday to lash out against gay marraige? Is he trying to lose “most” of his support?

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 09:44 AM from United States

What’s with the drinking age being 21, anyway? That’s insane. 18 is much more reasonable.

the same thing as with Prop 87 here in California. Use morality as a guide to punish people for the personal freedoms society doesn’t care for anymore.

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 09:50 AM from United States

George Bush panders to the toothless

It most certainly doesn’t look like he is appealing to a tiny minority of the intolerant within the conservative party..

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 09:56 AM from United States

Reagan and Schwarzenegger have remarkably similar styles, at least as California governor. Newt Gingrich always comes across as articulate. Too bad he has too much bad history to have much of a future. Mitt Romney seems to always have something interesting to say. Rudy Guiliani, however, does not.

It is a big mistake to let the Dems win to send a message. That would give them enormous power to mess up the country with their cockamamie ideas. The message would be that the country is giving the Democrats a mandate of insanity.

Hastert and Frist must go. Funny how all this talk of Frist being presidential timber has totally evaporated. The guy was literally operating on zoo animals as a publicity stunt a couple days after claiming that Congress ran out of time to pass that original immigration bill.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 10:01 AM from Australia

If that is in fact the case, why would George Bush use his soapbox yesterday to lash out against gay marraige? Is he trying to lose “most” of his support?

Neoconservatives define themselves by foreign policy, which (last time I checked) doesn’t involve gay marriage. OK, saying that most support it is a little strong - more accurate would be that most don’t care but don’t see any reason to prohibit it. It’s the religious nutter crowd that are so anti gay marriage, and they tend paleocon. Just because they both support Bush doesn’t mean they’re the same group.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:03 AM from United States

18 is much more reasonable.

Indeed. If a person can be drafted to go to war against his or her will, that person should be allowed to drink.  And vote.

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 11:04 AM from United States

Just because they both support Bush doesn’t mean they’re the same group.

Doesn’t that fly in the face of your party are your representatives?

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:16 AM from Australia

Doesn’t that fly in the face of your party are your representatives?

Not at all. You can support part of a party’s platform without supporting the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a political platform where I agreed with everything, except for single-issue parties.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:17 AM from Australia

Indeed. If a person can be drafted to go to war against his or her will, that person should be allowed to drink.  And vote.

The Australian army issues beer as part of the rations. So do the Bavarian regiments of the German army - it takes some of the sting out of conscription.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:19 AM from Australia

Actually, I have an off-topic question. I’ll probably be moving to the US for work in the next year or two. Currently I enjoy a beer with lunch some days - is my future American employer likely to have a problem with this, and if he does can I claim cultural discrimination?

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:27 AM from United States

If Repubs are gonna waste your money and shine a light on their incompentance for all the world to see, they do it like this:

http://tinyurl.com/verpf

(you’ll have to c&p;into your browser, sorry)

In other words, both sides can do real damage.  And as far as the Repubs drug benefit, that was more of a sop to Big Pharma than anything.  The Dems will negotiate for lower prices, like the VA does.  I think that will be a positive change.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:29 AM from United States

He is pissing and moaning that the miserable failure of this administration is going to cause the most liberal backlash in American history.

God I hope not.  Eight years of Hilary, George Soros and Michael Moore and their smug self-righteousness and political correctness would probably make me nostalgic even for George W.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:37 AM from United States

Kerry opens mouth inserts foor (again)

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 11:38 AM from United States

That should read “foot”.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 12:17 PM from United States

Actually, I have an off-topic question. I’ll probably be moving to the US for work in the next year or two. Currently I enjoy a beer with lunch some days - is my future American employer likely to have a problem with this, and if he does can I claim cultural discrimination?

Drinking on the job is generally frowned upon under a lot of circumstances.  You might be able to get away with a beer at lunch because I doubt it will make you a slobbering drunk incapable of work, but you might want to mention this after you start working to determine if its ok.  You likely wouldn’t want to drink the beer available anyways.

Posted by Manwhore on 10/31/06 at 01:23 PM from United States

God I hope not.  Eight years of Hilary, George Soros and Michael Moore and their smug self-righteousness and political correctness would probably make me nostalgic even for George W.

well, word to the wise for the next republican president. don’t threaten to constitutionally define morality to the public. conservatism was fine until all this religious bullshit started to be involved in it.

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 05:56 PM from United States

well, word to the wise for the next republican president. don’t threaten to constitutionally define morality to the public. conservatism was fine until all this religious bullshit started to be involved in it.

Amen!

Posted by on 10/31/06 at 06:31 PM from United Kingdom

Actually, I have an off-topic question. I’ll probably be moving to the US for work in the next year or two. Currently I enjoy a beer with lunch some days - is my future American employer likely to have a problem with this, and if he does can I claim cultural discrimination?

What would you want to be drinking pissy American beer for? Come the U.K to work, we have far better beer here :)

Posted by on 11/02/06 at 05:40 PM from United States

1) that’s why my posting read “prosecuted and intensified” rather than “initiated”.

Look. I’m not trying to be a dick, but I still must be missing something. Other than [maybe] bringing more drugs into the United States to fund
the Contras, the most notable mention of action by the Reagan Administration in the War on Drugs
article is that the Office of National Drug Control Policy was established in 1988
by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act [of Congress].

2) indeed, but I didn’t notice Reagan vetoing or threatening to veto the Congressional bill. His administration supported bullying the states into raising the drinking age, while a libertarian administration would have fought it.

True, Reagan didn’t veto either the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 or the
Anti-Drug Abuse Act when he could have. I also agree that a true libertarian would have tried.

However, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 only stipulated 21 years as a minimum age for purchasing or public possession of alcoholic beverages. It was not an outright ban on under 21 drinking, so it did not actually raise the drinking age to 21. Individual states have added that jewel.

Given that the leading cause of death was [and still is] automobile accidents for young people from 1-29, particulary for the 15
to 24 age group--link, and since two-thirds of traffic deaths for people in the 16 to 20 age group involved alcohol prior to the 1984 legislation, I think it was a good idea. [FYI: The 60% of all traffic fatalities that involved alcohol in 1970 has since been cut in half with the largest proportional declines in the age group 16 to 20.]

He signed it and you accuse him of expanding the government. Had he not signed it, you would accuse him of standing by while too many young people die in drunken crashes. I get it....you just didn’t like Reagan.

I, for one, remember a pretty large outcry in the mid to late 80’s that something be done about the “drug problem”. Had Reagan vetoed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988, he [and anyone trying to ride his coat tail] would have been accused of being soft on drugs and on crime. In that case, his party would have lost in the next election. Maybe he shouldn’t have cared because he couldn’t run for president again. Then again, maybe he didn’t want to see everything he worked towards washed away by the Democrats.

There never has been a truly and consistently socially libertarian government in the history of the US or indeed any other country that I can think of, just as there’s never
been an anarchist one.  Governments govern, libertarians want to let people alone.  We’ve
faced massively extended state power under most administrations (Johnson, Bush II),
slightly extended state power under some (Reagan, Bush I).  But the ratchet has generally
been one way.

I completely agree with that. It definitely has been the trend for government to be expanded.
I’m just saying that it’s really hard to completely pin the things you mentioned on Reagan.

Posted by on 11/02/06 at 05:48 PM from United States

Hey drunkkus is just pissing in his pants right now. He is pissing and moaning that the miserable failure of this administration is going to cause the most liberal backlash in American history.

I don’t know when or where I said that, and I don’t believe it anyway. I do know I have said that I’m not so worried about liberals winning in 06. If 06 turns out to be the “most liberal backlash in American history”, wait for the counter-backlash in 08.

I would have told drunkkus before that gay marraige was just a matter of time, but now its inevitable in the next few years. Get ready drunkkus. The Neocon party has taken its nose dive and this country will never be the same again.

Yeah, I guess I should have known that gay marriage was coming, seeing as how state after state after state is adding constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman [and thus, outlawing gay marriage]....nice try, though, dumbass.

Posted by on 11/02/06 at 06:06 PM from United States

Yeah, right. “Raise your drinking age or we won’t even give you enough federal highway funding to pave the driveway to the Governor’s mansion”. It’s disingenous to claim that was a state thing when it was one of the biggest pieces of federal blackmail in recent times.

Here it is again.

Try reading the second paragraph that says the following:

While this act did not outlaw the consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under 21 years of age, some states extended its provisions into an outright ban. However, most states still permit “underage” consumption of alcohol in some circumstances. In some states, no restriction on private consumption is made, while in others, consumption is only allowed in specific locations, in the presence of consenting and supervising family members, and/or during religious occasions.

They raised the legal age to purchase alcohol to 21 because, prior to the legislation, a disproportionate number of traffic accidents, caused by 16-20 year olds involved alcohol.

What’s with the drinking age being 21, anyway? That’s insane. 18 is much more reasonable.

18 seems more sensible to me also, but you have to admit, Congress had some decent reasoning behind thinking 21 was a better age.

If it was up to me, there would be no restrictions on the consumption age, and the purchasing age would be 18....an adult is an adult. I also think 18 [rather than 16] would be a better age to allow unrestricted driving.

Posted by on 11/02/06 at 06:11 PM from United States

well, word to the wise for the next republican president. don’t threaten to constitutionally define morality to the public. conservatism was fine until all this religious bullshit started to be involved in it.

....that’s exactly why presidents can’t “constitutionally define” anything. I hope this isn’t above your reading level.

Posted by on 11/03/06 at 12:40 PM from United States

Hell, I will just quote the president’s responsibilities during the amendment process from the link:

It is interesting to note that at no point does the President have a role in the formal amendment process (though he would be free to make his opinion known). He cannot veto an amendment proposal, nor a ratification. This point is clear in Article 5, and was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v Virginia (3 USC 378 [1798]):

The negative of the President applies only to the ordinary cases of legislation: He has nothing to do with the proposition, or adoption, of amendments to the Constitution.

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