“Realistically, it will probably take until the year 2016 before the movement regains anything resembling its former glory.” Richard Viguerie in Time discussing the conservative movement.
The Reason the Right Went Wrong
I just read Time’s article, “How the Right Went Wrong”. Though I doubt we would have ever witnessed President Reagan cry — if he were alive today I could understand why he would.
Of course, many on the right expressed outrage at Time magazine. How dare they photoshop a tear on Ronald Reagan and put it on the cover no less. It was the dreaded “liberal” or “drive by media” doing the usual hatchet job on the Republican party. I guess these commentators never heard of Patrick J. Buchanan’s book of almost the same title. The Right having gone wrong is not a manifestation of Time or any other liberal organization, it is — an unfortunate reality.
Ronald Reagan gets most of the credit, which he deserves, for the rise of Republican conservatives. However, he also deserves all of the blame for the their fall. Sacrilege you say. I could see the conservatives ready to burn me in effigy, if not in reality. Please, just give me a moment.
Ronald Reagan is, to me, both a personal and political hero. I served in the Navy during his Presidency and he was the first person I ever voted for in a Presidential election. I served the President and I respected the man.
In 1980 former Governor Ronald Reagan finally pushed his way through the country club, Rockefeller controlled Republican Party. For the first time since the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964, a true conservative was on the precipice of becoming President of the United States. A man, not only of ideas, but of convictions, Ronald Wilson Reagan was a Horatio Alger story come to life. He was a man who embodied America and the American Dream. So how can I dare speculate that Ronald Reagan, an individual I hold in such high esteem, is responsible for today’s decline of conservatism and the Republican party?
Easy, I can say it with the confidence of 20/20 hindsight. President Reagan’s grand error can be summed up in one action, the Vice Presidential choice of George Herbert Walker Bush.
George H.W. Bush’s loss to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 primary would more than likely have been Bush’s last hurrah. Being a moderate to liberal Republican he would have had very little influence in the Reagan era.
There is much speculation as to why Nominee Reagan chose his conquered primary challenger as his running mate. Many of the reports seem to be of the consensus that a deal between the Ford and Reagan camps had fallen through and Bush was all that was left. Reading articles and historical accounts I am baffled as to why Ford was ever approached, but I am genuinely less questioning of the Bush decision.
Although ideologically apart, the unfortunate truth of Presidential elections is: the quest for the popular vote is not the goal, it is the electoral college absolute majority that determines the victor. In the equation of electoral math Bush would have been the ideal choice. In the thinking of the time; Reagan brings California, where he was Governor, and the midwest, where he was born and raised. Bush bring Texas, his adopted home state and New England, where he was born and raised. It makes perfect electoral sense, though most accounts state this was not the reason.
I still can’t grasp why Reagan didn’t pursue a more conservative choice for his running mate. President Reagan was convinced that the liberal/moderate wing was so detrimental to the party that in 1976 he did the unthinkable. In the primary, he challenged his party’s incumbent President. Demonstrating that type of conviction why he would chose Bush, who was pro-choice and adamantly opposed to Reagan’s supply side economics, is an enigma. But, for whatever reason, Reagan bit his tongue and put H.W. on the ticket, beginning the decline of conservatism and my beloved GOP.
What did this decision have to do with today’s decline? Simple, it paved the way for the emergence of George W. Bush’s political career and the Neo-Con power grab. To quote Paul Harvey, “now you know the rest of the story.”