The 1980 campaign brought about the dissolution of the old New Deal Coalition and the rise of the Reagan Democrat, a phrase coined by Newsweek political writer Peter Goldman after that historic election.
Yet all campaigns cannot be viewed as isolated incidents but rather as a river flowing from one through the next. Conservative Democrats broke with Adlai Stevenson in 1952 to support Eisenhower and many broke with Hubert Humphrey in 1968 to support Republican Richard Nixon or George Wallace, another Democrat.
By 1972, many conservative Democrats supported Nixon over George McGovern so at least in presidential campaigns, culturally conservative Democrats were already moving away from their historic home. Only the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, a southern populist reformer–and Watergate–and Betty Ford’s liberalism–forestalled the inevitable.
The Gipper’s massive victory in 1980 was fueled by more that 30 percent of Democrats nationwide, who took a powder on Carter after he moved to the left. Reagan received the same amount in the 1984 election in part because he’d done nothing to disappoint them and the liberal establishment
Reagan ran again as the anti-establishment
By the final years of the last century, some inside the GOP wanted the Reagan Revolution to be over, thus the phrase “compassionate conservative.” George W. Bush ran and lost the popular vote in 2000 without once ever calling for a spending cut or the elimination of one single wasteful federal program. After that, the GOP would continue to embrace the persona of Reagan–they had little choice–but no longer would they embrace the American conservative philosophy of the Gipper.
Hence, the stirrings of the Obama Republicans.
What has altered the storyline in the past several years is not the emergence of the Tea Party but rather the permanent entrenchment of Big Government Republicans, aka Obama Republicans. President Obama has had that much effect on the national debate, which has had a direct effect on the national Republicans.
The last gasp of principled conservatism may have come in 2010 with the rise of the Tea Party, but this also gave rise to the countervailing force of the Obama Republicans, resulting in the nomination of Mitt Romney in 2012.
In spite of losing five of the previous six presidential contests, it is the Obama Republicans who now rule the party apparatus of the GOP. Obama Republicans have also spread out among the state bureaucracies, the academies, Wall Street, Detroit, and nearly all of corporate America.
They have bought into Obama’s Oligarchy of big business and big government doing business together, at the expense of the little guy.
Obama supported TARP. Bush supported TARP. The ruling classes supported TARP. Wall Street supported TARP. Therefore, $750 billion–initially–was taken from the rest of the country to “rescue” the corrupt elites of Wall Street.
And never one prosecution or investigation. The greatest wealth transfer in American history and the elites of both parties were in on the score. The Republicans pulled of the heist and the Democrats drove the getaway car.
Other examples abound.
The new Obama Republicans are members of the bureaucratic classes, are pro-government, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, pro-NSA, and pro-amnesty. They are sophisticated, urban, and have utterly nothing in common with the Tea Party Reaganites. Indeed, they are culturally closer to Obama’s and Romney’s view of the world than Reagan’s.
Power is everything. Power vindicates all. The shady forces of the national GOP party committees supported a pro-abortion, pro-Obamacare stalker in Oregon’s senate primary because she is a) a woman and b)…? The national GOP plays the very same identity politics that Obama and the Democrats have played for years by embracing one victim group after another. (Shirley & Banister assisted Jason Conger in Oregon’s GOP primary because he was the ethical conservative candidate.)
The Obama Republicans are fueled in part by old Bush speechwriters and neocons and High Tories who sometimes make a pass at talking about conservatism but that is mainly to keep the yokels at the grass roots guessing. Mostly though, they spend their time bashing the Tea Party Reaganites.
There is a dialectic to American presidential politics which occurs every generation or two. From Jefferson’s “New American Revolution” to Jackson’s “Democratic Populism” to Lincoln and the rise of the Republican reformers to Teddy Roosevelt and then to FDR’s “New Deal” and two generations later to Reagan’s “New Federalism,” and now to Obama, 28 years after Reagan–right on schedule–we may be witnessing a paradigm shift again in American politics.
It should be no surprise that the Republicans on Capitol Hill offer nothing of opposition to Obama. They can best be labeled the “Rollover Caucus.” Oh, they will run commercials and mouth platitudes to fool conservative voters to get their money and their votes for this fall, but everybody knows they’ve signed on to Obamacare because their corporate masters in the insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries told them to do so. They have always supported immigration reform because, again, their corporate masters told them to do so.
The Administrative state is here to stay, as long as the status quo holds. The only question now is how long the Tea Party Reaganites stay with a party which is fundamentally opposed to them and despises them.