Is There a Young, Rhody Reaganite?

Interesting observation from Jean Kaufman:

Traditionally, conservatives have distrusted Republicans from blue states. The usual path to election for a blue-state Republican has been the RINO road. It seemed to make sense, too, for candidates to think that the way to appeal to the Democrats and independents necessary to win an election in a blue state would be to position oneself only somewhat to the right of the left.
Ronald Reagan…presented himself as a conservative rather than a moderate, and yet was able to attract Democrats and moderates. Reagan appealed to voters in his state [California], and later very successfully at the national level, by being personally compelling while at the same time articulating his conservative beliefs in a clear and convincing manner. That combination was remarkably persuasive.
Reagan…had no immediate heirs. George H.W. Bush, his vice president, was personally and ideologically quite different. So it is not insignificant that the current crop of conservative leaders-in-the-making were children or young adults during the Reagan years. Unlike those who cut their political teeth before Reagan was president, they didn’t think moderation was necessary for success. They saw for themselves that it was possible to stick to conservative principles and yet remain a viable candidate in a state that was not fundamentally conservative, and then to succeed at the national level. In a metaphoric sense, they are Reagan’s children.

Chris Christie, Paul Ryan & Susana Martinez are few examples of conservatives from “blue” states who have succeeded politically. It’s still to be seen if they can translate that success on a national level, but here’s why Kaufman thinks they may have a chance:

A conservative who has managed to get elected in a blue state or district has a distinct advantage over others who have followed the more traditional red-state route to Republican prominence. In a more Darwinian struggle for political existence, only the most charismatic, nimble, and appealing minds and personalities among conservatives would be able to win, swimming against such a strong tide without sinking. This background is exactly what a conservative would seem to need in order to prevail on the national level in a country that features slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans, as well as a growing number of independents.

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Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
9 years ago

Aside from the fact that he should have been impeached for Iran-Contra,
IMHO Ronald Reagan would been called a RINO by his own party today
1.He raised taxes multiple times
2. He negotiated with terrorists
3. Gave amnesty to millions of illegals
4 Sold the social conservatives in Iran some of our most sophisticated weapons

9 years ago

Thanks Sammy, I always know I hit a nerve when you make a comment.

9 years ago

It should be pointed out that California during Reagan’s time had been a solidly Republican state except to elect Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt against his challengers, Truman over Dewey, and in Johnson’s landslide over “Mr. Conservative” Barry Goldwater.
In fact, California’s position as a lock for Democrats in the presidential election only started in 1992; pretty recent for a state that was usually a reliable Republican vote since it became a state in the mid-19th century.
The point being, Reagan’s position as a conservative should not be considered as a conservative running from a blue state, but a conservative running from a red state, merely representing the conservative wing of his own party. California has a history of such candidates: Nixon was considered conservative in relation to Eisenhower (though perhaps that would be a laughable distinction today – Nixon seems disowned by all political ideologies).
So, it is unlikely you’ll find a “Rhody Reagan” until the RI begins to shift towards Republicanism. You’re more likely to find people emerge nationally like Whitehouse, Cicilline, etc.; people who are more liberal than the local party. And in fact, with folks like Pell in our history, those are exactly the types of people who have made a lasting impact on the nation.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Reagan is a perfect example of the “times make the president”. It was a time of transistion and America was obessed with street crime (Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry”) and welfare abuse(“Welfare Queens”). Much of this has become aceptable as “something we can’t do much about”. Even the blue collar, union, guys sided with Reagan, the “hard hats”.
Any present candidate must remember that deathless phrase “It’s the economy, stupid”. Right now, I think the guy in the street “get’s it”. Meanwhile the Democrats fritter away time on “gay marriage”, the “war on women” and “federally funded abortion”. That is preaching to the choir.

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