According to recent statements by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, GOP icon Ronald Reagan would have a “hard time” in a party he said is currently suffering from “dysfunction.”
Turning his own tactic against him, I don’t feel the Republican Party is too conservative or close-minded for the 40th President. Instead, I think Bush is continuing his race to the center, disregarding the message Tea Party sentiments delivered prior to the 2010 mid-term elections.
Admittedly, I was born just before Reagan took office, and my knowledge of his presidency comes from years of study rather than firsthand experience. Nevertheless, I still contend Bush’s comments are inherently false. If he were accurate in his assessment, wouldn’t these ultra-conservative voters he criticizes have ensured victory for one of Mitt Romney’s much more right-leaning counterparts during primary season? Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain prove such an option was viable, but Romney’s victory was all but guaranteed for months prior to the Texas primary that secured his nomination.
The only real evidence Bush provided in defense of his statements is that Reagan believed in “finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground” with Democrats. While technically true in many circumstances, Bush missed Reagan’s end game strategy. Reagan knew he needed the votes of a Democrat-heavy legislature to pursue his solidly conservative agenda. Though ideologically liberal, former House Speaker Tip O’Neill and others of that generation focused on getting the work of the American people done rather than stockpiling more political power.
These days, however, most politicians on the left are in no mood to compromise, wishing instead to impose their view of America’s future onto the entire citizenry with little regard for their wishes.
This is just further proof that Bush is completely out of step with right-leaning thought on many major issues, coming on the heels of recent interviews during which he railed against long-held conservative policies. He’s implicitly endorsed higher taxes, supported a “path to residency” for illegal immigrants, and called the GOP inhospitable for Hispanics – all within the span of two weeks.
I clearly recognize the profound impact the Bush family has made in American politics and the legacy left by the second father-son presidencies in this nation’s history. This does not, however, excuse wishy-washy, moderate statements intended to disparage the very electorate responsible for recent GOP victories.
Photo credit: Politécnico Grancolombiano (Creative Commons)
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