Former US President Ronald Reagan still looms large over American politics with many current battles over America’s debt, taxation, and the size of government being fought in his name.
Republican Presidential candidates, the Tea Party Movement and even Democratic President Barack Obama have all laid claim to being Reagan’s rightful heir, but some of those who knew him best say his legacy is being distorted.
“A Reagan Republican defines a modern republican – limited government, maximizing liberty, limiting taxes and spending and control over your life,” claims conservative libertarian Grover Norquist.
President Reagan’s son says the Republican Party has shifted so far to the extreme right, Reagan himself couldn’t get elected. “He’d be too liberal now,” claims Ron Reagan Jr.
The result of this tug-of-war over what Reagan really stood for has led to gridlock in Washington, economic stagnation in America and defeat for the Republican Party he once led.
Republican politicians are now “almost all signing up to a pledge never to increase taxes.” However, American historian Bruce Bartlett argues that this republican intention to carry out Regan’s legacy “misunderstands” his record. “He did indeed cut taxes sharply in 1981 but he raised taxes almost every other year of his presidency.”
Conservative beliefs may be deeply rooted in American culture, but as generations renew themselves and cultural diversity booms, many of the country’s voters are finding that the Democratic Party offers a better approach to their issues. But with laws gradually being changed to meet American society’s increasingly liberal views, the Republican Party is growing more conservative, losing the support of many moderate republicans.
Senator Arlen Specter argues that today’s republicans are in fact digressing from the former president’s legacy: “It is by no means the Party of Reagan, President Reagan welcomed moderates into the White House.” With a growing number of republicans feeling like their party no longer represents their beliefs, what consequences will this shift have on the Republican party, and indeed America’s future?
The Party of Reagan features senior members of the Reagan administration and some of the most powerful conservatives in Washington D.C today.