Reagan conservatism takes on Obama progressivism as voters flee to followers of late president.
Now it begins.
The iconic election contest of the new century: Barack Obama versus…Ronald Reagan.
In one corner of the ring: progressivism/statism/liberalism as championed by Obama. In the other: Reagan conservatism/individual liberty and freedom. It will be a knock down, no-holds barred fight, with Obama progressives already on the ropes, the consequences and costs of but one year of Obama in power with an Obama-controlled Congress having been driven home to startled Americans.
Neither Obama nor the late President Reagan will have his name on a ballot anywhere this election year. President Obama does not face the voters for another two years, and former President Reagan, of course, passed from the scene in 2004.
Yet in a high-speed culture in which politics is conducted in the short-hand of sound-bites, the 2010 election can be easily summarized by the last names of the two presidents immutably identified with their respective governing philosophies, making the first national election of the 21st century’s second decade a virtual War of the Presidents. It will beget one simple question. Are you Reagan or Obama?
There is a reason that the Obama White House repeatedly attempts to drag George W. Bush back into the arena beyond Bush’s unpopularity with the electorate. The reason? It’s one thing to take on the unpopular and very much alive Bush, who left office with a 22% approval rating in a final CBS News/New York Times poll. It’s another thing entirely to take on the revered Reagan. Gallup polls in 2001 and 2007 — one each three years before his death and three years afterwards — had Americans ranking Reagan as either America’s greatest president or number two — right behind Lincoln.
Yet one has to hand it to Obama’s advisers. In the guise of fixing this, that or another alleged “mess” that has been, as Obama likes to say, “inherited” from Bush, it is now abundantly clear that the Obama White House game is to use Bush as the excuse to instigate what former Vice President Cheney recently called “what seems to be the goal of his presidency: social transformation, the restructuring of American society.”
But the social transformation and restructuring of American society from…what?
Answer: the American society and structure that Ronald Reagan set in motion from the moment his own hand came off the inaugural bible 29 years ago this month. A society in which, between 1981 and 2008, almost 45 million jobs were created and the Cold War was not only won outright but the Soviet Union vanished atop what Reagan once called the ash heap of history.
Americans, tired of Bush in 2008 and soothed by the perception of Obama’s moderate tone, have spent the last year moving from expectation to uncertainty to concern to alarm and finally furious anger over the approach of the Obama administration. Shocked recognition has set in that whether the subject was the stimulus bill, the state of American car companies, banks and financial institutions, the incessant trips abroad to apologize for America, the hesitation on winning the war in Afghanistan, the effective seizure of the private health care system or bringing the 9/11 terrorists to New York for trial instead of treating them as military combatants, not to mention the piling up of untold trillions in debt — no matter the subject, invoking Bush was and is a cover for the real game.
The real game?
For Obama to remake America from the bottom up into a statist utopia as long envisioned by American and European “progressives.” To fundamentally change — forever — the role of government in everyday American life. To remove as much individual liberty and freedom as they can get away with and replace it with government control, on the old theory that only economic and political elites can correctly order the affairs of the average man and woman. Making of America a quasi-socialist state on the model favored by leftists of one stripe or another for all or parts of three centuries. If the Obama progressives could manage it, the idea would be to drop the “quasi” altogether.
The dog that doesn’t bark in this scenario?
The same relentless attacks on Reagan that have been directed at the unpopular Bush and Cheney. There are none. Why?
“Perhaps the most cogent exposition of the conservative political philosophy….was made by a professional actor, Ronald Reagan,” wrote Arthur Krock, the curmudgeonly dean of the New York Times after Reagan’s famous speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964, more prescient than he could know. Both in his lifetime and since, it is Reagan alone who has been the most successful spokesman for the opposition to the left-wing “progressive” philosophy Obama is out to impose on the country. And in one form or another, on one issue or another, it is Reagan that Obama has been trying to overturn — not George W. Bush. Hence, the strategy: attack the unpopular Bush always, the legendarily popular Reagan never. Blame Bush — while repealing Reagan.