Clearly, Rich Rubino of the Huffington Post is in over his head.
In a badly flawed piece
for the Huffington Post, he tries to explain Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 over Jimmy Carter as a pragmatic one, rather than an ideological one, using his reinvention of history as a means of bashing 2016 GOP aspirant Ted Cruz, who has made comparisons between 1980 and 2016.
Senator, you are on course in your broad historical comparisons. Rubino should read "Rendezvous with Destiny," my book which all agree is the definitive story of the 1980 campaign.
I interviewed former president Jimmy Carter and former vice president Walter Mondale, Ed Meese, Jim Baker, and everybody else in between to write "Rendezvous with Destiny." I also went through files from the Reagan Library, the Bush Library and the Carter Center.
One thing emerges from Rubino’s fractured fairy tale and that is liberals can’t seem to decide if Reagan was a progressive tax hiking moderate or a deranged right-wing sociopath who hated gays and intentionally spread crack in ghettos. Yawn. This false narrative is getting so tiresome.
Where do I begin with Rubino’s mistakes? He writes that Reagan won a majority of the liberal vote in 1980. Nonsense. Liberals detested Ronald Reagan in 1980 almost as much as they do now, and in 1980, they gave their votes to Carter or John Anderson, running as a third party liberal reformer. (Rubino completely misses this significant story of 1980.)
Rubino charges that Reagan’s record was “sacrilegious” (whatever that means). Reagan’s record as a conservative was in fact, trendsetting and historical — all at the same time.
He was going through an awakening, an evolution, one he eventually arrived at which meant that modern American conservatives must always be in a state of political revolution. He governed California as a tax cutting revolutionary who saved the state from financial ruin and reformed the badly flawed welfare program.
Reagan in the 1980 campaign did delineate a list of conservative priorities in the fall campaign. Rubino must have missed Reagan’s call for tax cuts, for reducing the size and scope of government, for rebuilding America’s defenses, or for restoring American values.
One week before the election and at his debate with Carter, Reagan said that Washington “has usurped powers and autonomy and authority that belongs back at the state and local level. It has imposed on the individual freedoms of the people, and that there are more of these things that could be solved by the people themselves if they were given a chance or by the levels of government that were closer to them.”
Sen. Richard Schweiker in 1976 was not a liberal. He was pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, was a leader in the Captive Nations Movement, and was for a strong national defense.
Reagan chose him, not because he was a liberal, but because he might bring some wavering delegates in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York delegations over to The Gipper.
Rubino also completely bollixes the Helsinki accords, which in fact codified the Soviets domination over the Warsaw Pact countries.
Carter did not “eke” out a re-nomination win over Ted Kennedy in 1980. He won re-nomination handily. And while it is true that Carter was beset with domestic and international problems in 1980, the American people do not like to throw out elected incumbents in non anomalous years. Thus, only in 1932 did the American people reject Herbert Hoover and replace him with FDR, the only time in 20 presidential elections in the 20th century when the American people did so, other than 1980. (The years 1912, 1976 and 1992 were anomalous.)
Cruz is right. There are striking similarities. Just like 1980, next year will be the choice between collectivism and individualism, between the status quo and a political revolution, between the sharing of scarcity or individual abundance, between accommodation of an Evil Empire, or the victory of freedom.
Radical Islam is no less a corrupting ideology than is communism. Both reorganize power, with a few holding maximum power and the rest holding little or none.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter had a naïve belief in government even as he pleaded there was little he could do, blaming the American people for a “malaise.”
In 2015, first Barack Obama and now, all in the Democratic field, including and especially Hillary Clinton, have a child-like belief that government can or should solve our problems, when we can best solve them ourselves.
In the final analysis, Cruz is correct. The election of 1980 was revolutionary, just as the election of 2016 will be again, a referendum on the citizen versus the state.
Craig Shirley is the author of "Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America," "Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All," and "December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World." He is the founder of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, and has been named the first Reagan scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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