Ronald Reagan And The Tea Party – Would He Make It In Today’s GOP?

ronald reagan and the tea party


How would you guess Ronald Reagan and the tea party are related?

The Tea Party loves to celebrate the life and times of Ronald Reagan. To the so-called “conservatives” amongst us, Ronald Reagan is the patriarch of all modern conservatism. To be a “Reagan Republican” is about the highest badge of honor they give.

And it is with good reason. Ronald Reagan DID revitalize and bring back conservatism in politics in the 1970’s and 1980’s in America. At least on a rhetorical level. To the wealthy, Reagan is a war hero, in a sense. He defeated the 70 percent tax bracket, replacing it with an ultra-low 28 percent bracket for the most privileged amongst us. He broke unions, something anyone on the side of management loved. He restored that sense of American exceptionalism at a time when morale was just rock bottom in America. He preached and practiced peace through strength which is an easy policy to get behind.

Ronald Reagan was, like him or not, the man for the times. The 1980’s needed Ronald Reagan.

But if Ron was to run again, I doubt he’d stand a chance. And I don’t mean as a general election candidate. Would ronald Reagan and the tea party get along? How would he do as a GOP primary candidate? Let’s look at what might unfold:

His opponent, Carly Fiorina might take some of the following angles in shutting the Reagan machine down…

The tea party would reject him — here’s why.

• There’s Reagan’s tax policies. Reagan not only raised taxes, he did it a whole bunch. We all know about the highly touted tax decrease of 1981 that sent millionaires to dancing in the streets. Yet after that, in 1982, there was the Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act. That rolled back about a third of his ‘81 tax cuts, and raised corporate tax rates. Also, to a lesser extent, income tax rates. In total, he raised taxes by almost one percent of GDP. At the time, that was the largest percentage in peacetime tax increase ever.

• In 1982, he also raised gas taxes. I wonder what Sarah Palin would think of that?

• In 1983 Reagan raised payroll taxes on all lower and middle income taxpayers to a level that was higher than before the 1981 tax cuts. But rest assured, the tax rate on the wealthy was unharmed.

• In 1984, Americans got hit with the Reagan-signed “deficit reduction” tax hike.

• After being re-elected after mocking Walter Mondale for being honest in the area of tax policies, Reagan went on to increase taxes in 1985, 86 and 87 by billions of dollars.

• Carly Fiorina would probably want to show how she is on the side of military families by pointing out that Reagan froze military pay for all the enlisted personnel during his tenure.

• Ronald Reagan “cut and run” when terrorists directly attacked American marines, killing hundreds during his tenure.

• And as Governor, taxes were increased as well, twice.

• And one would think that with Reagan’s libertarian talk on taxes, spending would decrease as well, right? Well, no; spending increased 177 percent in Reagan’s stint as Governor.

• As Governor, Reagan pushed and signed California’s very 1st auto emission standard laws. Environmental regulation is bad, right?

• Reagan left Washington with a then historical record debt. Ronald Reagan and the tea party definitely had one thing in common — confusion about their own principles.

• Reagan never did anything serious about curbing abortion laws… ever.

• Reagan protected “liberal Hollywood” from important congressional inquiries in the area of national security.

• Reagan negotiated with our enemies, without precondition.

And with Carly Fiorina’s massively deep pockets, creating a political narrative to attack Mr Reagan would be pretty easy. I doubt Ronald Reagan, the reported “inspiration” behind the whole tea party movement, could even get double digits in his own party’s primary today.

And in the end, governing is much bigger than politics and ideological rhetoric. Governing is about pragmatism, compromise, and reality over rhetoric. Ronald Reagan and the tea party probably wouldn’t get along.