Note: The following is the first of two articles where Lone Conservative contributors give their opposing thoughts on the ideas of Ronald Reagan and the future of the conservative movement. Please be sure to check the homepage for the opposite viewpoint which will be posted sometime today.
Back in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan ushered in a new wave of conservatism. Republicans today look to Reagan for guidance on the path forward. Unfortunately, their nostalgia for the Reagan Era has blinded them to the political realignment of 2016.
The political climate today is vastly different from that of the Cold War. President Reagan’s greatest achievement was defeating global Communism. His hawkish approach towards the Soviet Union was appropriate for his time. Reagan even won two of the largest electoral wins in American history, most likely due to his foreign policy.
What Reaganites fail to understand is that America faces a different kind of Cold War today. The threat is no longer international Communism. It is a top down revolution being orchestrated by the elites in the media, academia, and various other cultural institutions. Corporate America, Wall Street, and the Big Tech oligarchy have amassed a concerning amount of power over American culture and political discourse.
The foreign policy of the Reagan era is no longer applicable. An interventionist foreign policy that seeks to “spread democracy” destabilizes regions and does not put America’s interests first. Interventionism is not a conservative doctrine. War, while sometimes necessary, is a destructive force that leaves death, violence, and chaos in its wake.
While there are global threats to America, the greatest danger is posed by the most powerful people and institutions within her own ranks. Loyalty to a supposed “free market” has blinded many conservatives to the immense influence of companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. The truth is that these corporations are merely extensions of the surveillance state. America is now a corporatocracy, where big business and the state work hand in hand to achieve anti-American ends.
Reaganite conservatives have an innate impulse to defend corporate America. This is despite the war corporations have waged on traditional American values and the family unit. Nathanael Blake writes in The Federalist that while “business interests may be allies against the dangers of socialism and the command economy” they can just as easily “support radical social change, in addition to exploiting workers and damaging communities in their quest for cheap labor.”
This does not mean that conservatives should abandon the principles of free enterprise. It does mean, however, that they need to stop treating corporations as allies. It is important to recognize that business interests do not always align with American interests.
Reaganism is often invoked as a slight to the “Trumpian” or populist right. For example, Paul Ryan gave a speech at the Reagan Library in California where he said, “… and we conservatives have got to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle.”
Presumably, the “principled” conservative stance would be to capitulate to the left on the culture. Real conservatives are okay with Drag Queens reading to five-year-olds or destructive ideologies like Critical Race Theory. Wielding power to curb the insidious attacks by the left on children naturally provokes Reaganites to decry “big government.”
Conservatives need to get over their fear of power. The argument is that if the right wields power, then the left will do the same. This neglects the fact that the left is already weaponizing institutional power to achieve its goals. The popular conservative mantra, “Don’t Tread on Me” implies that the snake will bite back; not roll over and submit to the leftist agenda.
Reaganism, while once an appropriate and respected ideology has morphed into elitist neoconservatism. Public officials who espouse Reaganism often support policies that are decimating the American tradition. Endless war, mass migration, social libertarianism, and bad trade deals are the trademarks of the GOP establishment. These policies have conserved only the power of those who seek to destroy American society.
Some may argue that this milquetoast “conservatism” is key to winning voters. However, in the 2016 election, Trump won Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Republicans had lost some of these industrial states by more than 10 percent in 2008 and over 5 percent in 2012. Even though Trump lost the 2020 election, he managed to get similar results in those states.
He also had the best performance among ethnic minorities than any Republican in 60 years. His support among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians gained by 4 percent. Trump also won the most Hispanic County in the nation, Starr County, Texas. His policies brought together a multiracial and anti-establishment coalition of voters.
The GOP must reject the failed policies of the past few decades if they want to win elections and salvage any power they have lost. Otherwise, America will continue its path of cultural decline. The pillars of America will no longer be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They will be degeneracy, hedonism, and the pursuit of America’s destruction.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.