I’ve often noted that Barry Goldwater, often called an early leader of the conservative movement, was a strong opponent of the religious right and social conservatism. In his later years he called himself a liberal, and held many positions which would make him unwelcome in today’s Republican Party. Republicans frequently bring up Ronald Reagan’s name, but they have even moved to the right of Reagan.
Some of Reagan’s economic advisers have already been tilting towards Democratic policies, and Reagan’s tax increases would not be accepted by the tea party conservatives of today. One Republican who lost a primary challenge to Republicans also pointed out another reason why Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp would not be accepted by today’s GOP:
Inglis, a Palmetto State Republican who was defeated earlier this year in a conservative primary challenge, said that “optimistic” conservatives might have been threatened by the conservative Tea Party movement.
“Well, not so much moderates. Surely, maybe they’re unwelcome, but also conservatives of the optimistic sort,” Inglis said during an appearance on CNN in response to a question about whether centrists were being forced out of the GOP.
“I think this would be a tough time for Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp,” Inglis added. “They were optimists that believe in America. Right now, unfortunately, conservatism is being presented with a voice of snarling rather than a face of smiling, and it really doesn’t fit America.”
Inglis also pointed out how the Tea Party movement is fostering fear and division in politics.
Ronald Reagan certainly wouldn’t fit into the Tea Party version of the GOP, but I wonder if this is because the whole conservative movement has moved beyond Reagan, or if this is a reflection of the current leadership. The Republican Party just might be a little more open (even if still too conservative for our tastes) if still led by people like Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.