Monday, March 02, 2009

The Reagan Myth

Carpetbagger's got a post about how Limbaugh thinks Republicans are making a mistake by trying to find new policy ideas, and how they'd be better off if they just repeated Reagan's success; because as we all know, there's no better way to move into the future than using thirty year old ideas. But in a sense, they are following in Reagan's footsteps. Just as Reagan appealed to a 1950's American ideal that never existed, modern Republicans are appealing to a Reagan that never existed.

For as much as conservatives imagine Reagan to be some perfect ideal of the popular conservative, the reality is that Reagan is a huge curse for Republicans; primarily because they've created such a cartoonish myth around the guy that never approached reality. By taking their most popular leader and instilling him posthumously with a hardcore conservativism that he never had, they essentially have created an unattainable goal which continues to lead them astray.

Republicans now seriously believe that Reagan was a small government tax-cutter with balls of steel who defeated America's enemies with unwavering strength. So they naturally assume they just need to find the right guy who can embody the principles of Reagan and be their knight in shining armor. And sure, that's even the ideal that Reagan was purported to be at the time. But one can only believe that if you ignore what actually happened.

Because Reagan wasn't that guy. He raised taxes, had huge deficits, negotiated with terrorists and communists, cut-and-ran from terror attacks, supported evil dictators, and perhaps worst of all, worked with Democrats to pass legislation. And while he had neo-cons working for him, they weren't the powerplayers they became under Reagan-wannabe Bush. And he often adopted pragmatic foreign policies that they found deplorable; like using diplomacy.

And while they've always admired him, it was really only after he died that he became this bigger-than-life conservative caricature that they hold up as their ideal. But had Reagan been the hardcore conservative neo-con they pretend he was, he'd never have been as popular as he was, or as successful. By using him as the ideal leader, they've created a false god that will continually mislead them. They've taped the needle on their ideological compass to always point to "R" and have convinced themselves that faith and propaganda will carry them through to the promised land of their forefathers.

And for as much as they imagine that using an idealized Reagan will help keep them pure and righteous, it only takes them further down the path to Crazytown. They created him in their own self-image and will wait in vain for his second coming.


Batocchio said...

Quite right. And Reagan was also awful for the country overall, especially in terms of economics and wealth distribution - where he was successful, he wasn't a doctrinaire movement conservative.

Anonymous said...

You know, I've made the mistake of trying to point out some of these Reagan flaws. Never again. Thanks Doc!