More than once with the rise of the “tea” party and the new found conservatism of the Republican Party, that the one thing we need is another Reagan. Just as many of the “tea partiers” have no idea what the original Boston Tea Party was about, most modern day Republicans have no idea who Ronald Reagan was. In the late 90’s there was a concerted effort by many Republicans to rebrand Reagan as a true conservative. Unfortunately for them the facts just don’t match the reality.
In almost every news story of the current recession, you can find the words.. “ the worst ______ since 1982”. One of the ways that Reagan used to counteract this was a massive stimulus plan. Instead of going the FDR way and building our infrastructure, he spent our money on defense. Between 1980 and 1985 the number of dollars devoted each year to defense doubled. From the Apache Helicopter to “Star Wars”, while some were useful and others were a waste of money, the point Reagan threw hundreds of millions of “stimulus” at the Defense industry which helped us get out of the recession
Reagan called torture “an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today”. On May 28th, 1988 he sent the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification. The key provision of the Convention said that each state was required to either prosecute torturers or extradite them to other countries for prosecution. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1079/is_n2137_v88/ai_6742034/).
The official policy of the Reagan Administration was civilian trials for terrorists. Ask Paul Bremer (Ambassador at Large for Counter Terrorism under Reagan) “a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are — criminals — and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.” (http://www.disam.dsca.mil/pubs/Vol%2010-2/Bremer.pdf)
Let us also not forget the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. This bill made any immigrant who had entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty. This helped 2.9 million immigrants get on a path to citizenship and have full amnesty. One other provision of the bill was that employers would face strict penalties for hiring undocumented workers. We know form the last legislative session that the modern day republicans would of shot this provision down. (http://katzleo.newsvine.com/_news/2010/04/22/4191910-wisconsin-bill-targeting-illegal-immigrants-fails-to-pass-).
There are however some similarities between Reagan and the modern day Republicans. The first and most obvious is in their love of spending our money. Ronald Reagan left office with a 3 trillion dollar deficit. He spent more than every single president before him combined. Reagan was just following a philosophy that was thought up by Republican operative Jude Wanniski called the “Two Santa Claus Theory” The theory is when Republicans are in office to pair major tax cuts with increases in spending. They would bleed the economy so much that when Democrats took over (everything is cyclical), that the economy and government would be in such a mess that if they tried to fix it as needed IE…. Tax increases , reducing spending etc… it would help usher the republicans back into power again.
I will end it with one more similarity. The Reagan Administration was the most corrupt administration in history. Back in an era when both parties worked together and the atmosphere was not as politically charged as it is now, there were multiple scandals that resulted in the investigation, indictment or conviction of 139 administration officials. The largest of course being the Iran-Contra Scandal, but there were others such as the HUD rigging scandal, Sewergate, the Savings and Loans crisis and many others.
While you can debate if we need another Reagan, one thing is for sure. The Tea Party would not let him out of the primary!
“He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless”
Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan) talking about her father, The Way I See It.