Ronald Reagan the Liberal

By todays’s standards, Ronald Reagan was a liberal.

He signed amnesty for millions of “illegals” and two large tax increases. His 1981 tax cut mostly allowed the states to raise taxes and get more revenue.

He was the first divorced president who didn’t attend church regularly, except when invited to “preach” to evangelicals who bought his message and naively thought he would do something about abortion, school prayer, and tax credits for private schools. He did nothing for them, but they loved him anyway.

He quietly hired gays and spoke out against discrimination against gays. Ron Jr. is probably gay. His kids were neglected, Hollywood hippies who used drugs.

He, Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy got along well behind closed doors and after hours, and looked for deals they could do. Teddy gave a tribute to him at the Reagan Library, preferred him to Carter, and was good friends with Nancy, with whom he collaborated on stem cell research legislation. Reagan was far harsher on Israel than Obama has been, to name a few of his liberal decisions.

Most improbably, Reagan engaged in disarmament with the Soviet Union. Ideologues on the right didn’t like that, but kept quiet or were ignored because of Reagan’s personal popularity.

“Conservatives” don’t like to read about these apostasies, because it destroys their narrative and they like to think they are at perpetual war with “liberals.” But “liberal” and “conservative” are labels with transitory meaning that shift about every decade.

If people truly hold to political principles, they will find that today’s adversaries are tomorrow’s allies, and vice versa. Only political hacks march in lockstep and venerate presidential personalities or party loyalty above principle, and rail constantly against “the other,” liberals or conservatives. In reality, they are each part of the fabric of American politics, and need each other not only to define what they aren’t, but what they are. The next time someone rails against all liberals or all conservatives, remind him that, as Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

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