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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Trump: Closer to Reagan Than You Might Think

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Image via Wikimedia.
And that's not a good thing!

In the process of looking at stories of panicky conservatives supporting Trump early in his term, I found quite the disappointing -- but informative -- piece among my bookmarks. Written by Henry Olsen, author of Ronald Reagan: New Deal Republican, it wasn't quite what I was looking for, but it is worth reading for other reasons.

Its title? "Trump's Election Is the Last, Best Hope To Re-Reaganize the GOP." Anyone who favors government properly limited to the protection of individual rights should read through this, particularly if they have fond memories or conceptions of Reagan. I would also especially recommend the piece to anyone who imagines that Reagan or his conservative fans favor capitalism. Reagan, and (if Olsen is a gauge) many of his fans, clearly don't. The rest of us could use the clarity. Here's a good sample:
This flawed common wisdom flows from a flawed understanding of Reagan's philosophy that accepts the myth that Reagan was an anti-government ideologue. But to paraphrase Reagan himself, it's not that the common wisdom is wrong, it's that so much of what it knows just isn't so.

Reagan's conservatism was not a more attractive version of Barry Goldwater's anti-statist ideology. From the moment Reagan started speaking out as a conservative in the late 1950s, he endorsed an active role for government. He believed that government should care for those who could not care for themselves, build public housing for the poor and expand public universities. Where Goldwater attacked Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon for supporting Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Reagan enthusiastically backed both men in their presidential campaigns.

Reagan's conservatism even supported the idea of universal health coverage. He opposed Medicare only because he felt it unnecessary in light of another federal bill... [links omitted]
To get one thing out of the way first: Not especially to defend Goldwater, but being in favor of properly limited government does not equal being anti-government. That said, I am glad Olsen mentions all these things. Reagan, on top of unleashing the religious right, was no capitalist, but a Democrat Lite. Olsen goes on to salivate at the prospect of Trump hastening the process of the Republican Party basically becoming a "permanent majority" party by essentially becoming a Democratic party that appeals more to lower-income, white, Midwesterners and rust-belters. We need much better than that.

Since Trump's election, much has been made about the "civil war" within the Democratic Party. But if there isn't a civil war I don't know about within the Republican Party, the cause of freedom could certainly use one. Both Reagan's and Trump's terms have been short-term respites from the all-out assault against economic freedom by the Democrats, but that is all they are -- or will be if people like Olsen prevail. Neither man is a champion of individual rights, and we should keep that in mind.

-- CAV

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