The candidates lining up to enter the GOP presidential race are often described as either being "establishment" or "conservative," but after Sen. Ted Cruz' announcement on Monday, there may be a more accurate way to describe them: Reformists vs. retro, says an analysis piece in The Atlantic.
Reformists believe Reagan-style conservatism is outdated, explains contributing editor Peter Beinart, but retro candidates do not want to update Reagan, but instead to mimic him.
With reformists, he explained, conservatism from the Reagan era does not appeal to single women, young voters, or to minorities. In addition, it is out of date when it comes to social issues like legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, and criminal justice reform. Further, reformists advocate less government and less focus on economic growth, while such growth is not helping the poor and working class.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
could be considered a reformist, says Beinart. The GOP lawmaker calls police departments such as the one in Ferguson over militarized, says his party makes it hard for black voters to cast a ballot, and pushes for criminal justice reform.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who supports comprehensive immigration reform, also reaches out to Latinos and can be considered a reformist, as well as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who pushes for federal wage enhancements and supports immigration reform, like Bush does.
But there are many in the party who want their GOP's core beliefs to remain intact, and are more likely to support "retro" candidates who echo Reagan.
Cruz made it clear in his announcement that he is in the retro camp, Beinart said. He did not make an overture to Latinos, despite having a Cuban father, or much about the nation's modern issues, but instead discussed American struggles like the Revolutionary War, World War II, and Reagan's tax cut in 1981.
And both he and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another "retro" possibility, revere Reagan's memory. Even Cruz's video announcing his launch evokes a Reagan "morning in America" ad, and Beinart writes that when he showed his video to his students, two said it did not have an image unique to this century.
Cruz and Walker are also both adding to Reagan's conservative message. Both have talked of the importance of their faith, but in 1979, when Reagan announced his candidacy, he did not mention Christianity, Beinart writes.
But overall, America and the Republican Party have changed greatly since Reagan was in office, he said, and no candidate can completely evoke the late president, he concludes.
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