Planet Libertaria

The Pointless Veneration of Reagan

with 7 comments

Why conservatives and many self-styled libertarians insist on worshiping Ronald Reagan is beyond me.  What’s to like?  His tripling of the national debt?  Promising to end the Departments of Education and Energy, and failing to do so?  Selling arms to Iran?  Merely being present during the inevitable fall of communism?  It seems that the patently rudderless Republican Party is reduced to attributing things they never do (creating and maintaining fiscally-sound small government) to a man who never did them.

Not that they have too many presidential role models to work with.  Let’s review: should they choose George W. Bush, whose unfortunately all-to-recent slew of terrible policy and popularity disasters include sending the federal deficit and national debt to spectacular heights?  Perhaps George H.W. Bush, whose “Read my lips: no new taxes” pledge was a comical farce?  Gerald Ford, who pardoned Nixon?  Dare I even mention Nixon himself?  It’s absolutely breathtaking to consider that at this point we’ve backtracked all the way to Eisenhower, and fond remembrance of 60 years (or more) past isn’t likely to energize the electorate.

The entire strategy of misty-eyed Reagan retrospective is a guaranteed failure anyway.  With every breath wasted on Ronald Reagan and his so-called legacy, the Republican Party demonstrates no forward momentum into 2012 with any real presidential contender.  Perhaps this wistful yesteryear obsession with Reagan is simple self-preservation via subconscious denial of today’s political realities; after all, what present-day presumptive Republican candidates are there to be excited about?  It may very well be a forlorn hope that Ron Paul will enter as even a reluctant candidate, and with all the Party toes he’s stepped on over the years it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t be a concerted effort to internally sabotage his candidacy.  Chris Christie, who makes headlines as a champion big-government fighter in New Jersey has repeatedly stated he won’t run.  Paul Ryan, whose claim to fame is purposing a balanced budget by – oh boy! – 2063 is a highly improbable choice.  Who’s left?  Sarah Palin?  Mike Huckabee?  Can anyone actually believe the best they could come up with in the recent New Hampshire straw poll was Mitt Romney?  Is there any Republican less qualified to shrink government?

It is thus that the Republicans and their Tea Party supporters in particular – both so outspokenly dedicated to reducing the size of government – are practically doomed to look in the past and credit a man with actions he never took and purported beliefs he clearly betrayed.  To make matters worse, consider that the recent Republican boom in Congress is to be of scarce comfort in short order.  While congressional Republicans make noise about reducing the deficit by pathetically microscopic amounts (while refusing to take on Defense or entitlement spending, which currently make  about 76% of the budget), election season is right around the corner and there’s no evidence to suggest any remotely significant direction on the legislative front.  Attention, GOP: the charade can’t last forever.

But it’s the so-called “Reagan Libertarians” that raise my hackles; it’s a sad commentary that hijacking and bastardizing the libertarian label is so unfortunately in vogue.  If there was ever a contradiction of terms, this would be it: the defining of small government as big government.  The real Reagan legacy is deficit spending, hugely expanded national debt, foreign intervention, and tax hikes.  There is not and cannot be anything libertarian about any of that, period.

I suppose none of this is really surprising: the Republican Party is a contradictory self-defeating desiccated husk of anything it ever even claimed to be.  You can’t have small government and the fruitless War on Terror, the patently failed War on Drugs, the morality police, the Patriot Act, pointless federal departments, oil dependence, and a bevy of foreign entanglements.  Sadly, the impossible is apparently what Republicans desire – it is, after all, what they consistently vote for.

So perhaps, all things considered, Ronald Reagan is the best representative of the Republican Party that anyone could ever dream of.  As long as Republicans insist on what can only be called hypocrisy, perpetuating the myth of Reagan is quite frankly the shoe that fits.  But I draw the line – I must draw the line – at any fool who wishes to hitch libertarianism to Reagan’s fraudulence.  Unlike the ideologically boxed-in Republicans, Libertarians can offer a future for a nation mired in very real and very present dangers.  We need not clamor aboard a sinking ship, and I condemn any professed libertarian who implicitly or explicitly insists that an abandonment of libertarian principles by celebrating the antithesis of libertarianism is the path to our salvation.


Written by libertarianews

February 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I agree, Wayne Allen Root is a douche and not a Libertarian!


    February 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  2. I agree that Reagan was not a Libertarian. Anybody who claims that he was just doesn’t know what a Libertarian really is. However, I’m not sure that it is fair to argue that he didn’t accomplish anything.

    If nothing else, his hard line stance against the Air Traffic Controllers Union in 1981 had a significant impact on the economy and helped to bring inflation back under control.

    On a different note, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the current battle in Wisconsin over Governor Walker’s proposals to change the collective bargaining rights of state employees.


    February 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    • While I did focus on every negative aspect of Reagan I could think of, it wouldn’t be fair or accurate to pretend that the man was incapable of leadership or ever doing something positive; in other words, I certainly didn’t intend to portray him as the root of all evil or anything along such black and white lines. My primary objective was to illustrate the absurdity of Reagan worship coupled with the thought that perhaps the GOP really doesn’t have anyone else to prop up as the paragon of small government and fiscal responsibility.

      As to Gov. Walker: two posts by Monday are in the works, and that is one of them.


      February 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

  3. The willing ignorance and delusional perspective of the author is a window into the mind of a lowly man, without intellectual


    February 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

    • I’d certainly welcome your intellectual perspective on why Ronald Reagan worship is “good” in any sense of the word (I’m assuming this is your position; please feel free to respond however you like).


      February 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm

  4. If you are looking for a potential GOP candidate for 2012 to be excited about, I would look at former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson. His track record in New Mexico demonstrates his willingness and ability to make tough, unpopular decisions in order to shrink the size and cost of government and his positions against the war on drugs, Iraq and Afghanistan wars will surely help to win over Ron Paul loyalists. Granted, he is a dark horse, but he came in third place in the CPAC straw poll and Paul has said that if Johnson runs, he’ll support him. If he can get past the Republican Primary, he would have a great shot at winning back independents who favored Obama over McCain in ’08.

    David Fulton

    February 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    • Gary Johnson could be a great pick, and I’m glad you mentioned him.

      I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at a Students for Liberty back in October; he makes a compelling case via his record as a small-government governor in a blue state. He’s probably the most outspoken Republican on marijuana decriminalization, and he has a cogent solution for the illegal immigration problem. I’d love to see him run – he certainly has a broad appeal.


      February 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm

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