Saturday, December 11, 2010

Could Ronald Reagan Make It In Today's Republican Party?

I had lunch with a political associate of mine downtown this afternoon shortly after attending Mayor Greg Ballard's re-election announcement. We covered a lot of topics, but when we started talking about our families and our political histories, the topic of the late Ronald Reagan came up.

Earlier in the conversation, my associate expressed his support for former of Massachusetts Mitt Romney in the 2008 primary. He felt he was the right pick for that year, and that he was moderate enough in his political beliefs that he'd be able to attract voters that wouldn't normally vote for a Republican for President. As we all know now, Romney didn't make it out of the primary. John McCain won the nomination, and went on to lose to President Barack Obama.

I noted Romney will always have difficulty of getting out of a primary on the national state. Even with his backtracking on issues such as abortion, his record as Governor of Massachusetts still existed. He was too far left for the Republican voters who participate in the primaries and caucuses (or more aptly, the primaries and caucuses that matter). So I asked him if President Reagan could win a primary in today's Republican party?

My associate, without hesitation, said one word: "No."

And I wasn't surprised at that answer.

In fact, I'd even entertain another thought: That Reagan, despite all the love letters he gets from GOP pundits nowadays, would have no place at today's national Republican party.

Ronald Reagan was a proud, card carrying member and leader of his labor union, the Screen Actors Guild. Today, unions are openly demonized by conservatives (with an exception for police and fire fighter unions, of course).

Reagan, in his first term as Governor of California, signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act. This legislation was aimed to curb so-called "back room abortions". Because of the success of the law, more abortions were performed, but in a sanitary environment.

Reagan ran against a sitting President in a Republican primary in 1976, and almost won. Maybe you can get away with that on the state and local level, but it just doesn't happen on the national state.

Any one of these moves, alone, would crush the possibility of that Republican winning the GOP nomination to run for President of the United States. Reagan did all three. And probably more too.

So what do you think? Could Ronald Reagan make it in today's Republican Party? Is there a Democrat from the past who just wouldn't be accepted in today's Democrat party?

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