Invoking Reagan

Ronald Reagan Library

Yesterday marked the end of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign. Colleagues and peers did like Cruz, a self branded Constitutional conservative who liked to compare himself to Ronald Reagan (President #40). What a misnomer.

In fact, almost every one of the Republican candidates has invoked Ronald Reagan’s name in attempt to shine some luster on their campaign. It kind of makes sense. After all, Reagan was the last successful two-term Republican president to leave office on good terms.

George W. Bush (#43) did not fare so well, no matter what Marco Rubio would have the public believe. No, Reagan represents the most recent Golden Age of the Republican Party, not only healing the wounds of the Nixon presidency (#37, another two-term GOP president), but also ushering in the Bush presidencies with his Vice President and next President George H. W. Bush (#41).

But the reality of yesteryear does not match the off-putting tea party citing of the Reagan presidency. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said it best this past weekend, “I love all these knuckleheads talking about the party of Reagan. He would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”

The Tea Party’s Moderation Problem

Ronald Reagan Library

Therein lies the problem with today’s Tea Party party. You have conservatives comparing themselves to a successful moderate Republican, but they refuse to tolerate or compromise to achieve any kind of policy movement.

If there was anyone who understood the art of the deal, it was Reagan. As has been oft-documented Reagan — like Obama — had an opposing Congress, a Democratic one. But unlike today’s hardline Tea-Party driven conservative Republican Congress, the Democrats under the stewardship of House Speaker Tip O’Neill would often work out a deal with Reagan.

That very essence of working together is something Ted Cruz could never get. We’re talking about the guy who shut down the government to make a point about ObamaCare, one he knew he could never win.

Yet, Cruz is not alone. Shunning moderates has become the normal course of action for the conservative Republican movement. Anyone who hangs their hat on being a moderate finds themselves cajoled as a liberal, and so you have moderate Republicans hiding in the hallways, losing influence, or simply turning their coats.

No, the coalition building of today’s Republican Party is one of fear, and there is very little about it that reminds one of Reagan. John Kasich remains the one traditional Republican moderate in the race, but he didn’t and still doesn’t have a snowball chance in hell when you consider Donald Trump’s growing strength.

Trump and Clinton

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Unfortunately for the Republicans, the promise of Reagan didn’t meet the reality of the conservative movement’s absolutism. That’s why Trump has won the ticket, and that’s why many Republicans stand to lose power this coming election.

The Republican party failure hurts America, in my opinion. The alternatives are not great. When you look at the Democrats you have Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In the case of Sanders, we have a delusional old man pandering to young people with unachievable campaign promises. The Vermont Senator is an impractical idealist who has little understanding of baseline economics, nor does he understand the damage he is doing to his own party.

The presumptive nominee for the Democrats Hillary Clinton may be as unlikeable as Ted Cruz. Her politics have become increasing liberal, and that may be moderate a moving to the left to secure her nomination. Certainly, that would be a career politician’s move, but you can’t deny that Hillary Clinton has serious flaws, some with a certain air of corruption to them.

The moderate voter now faces a Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, unless something miraculous happens that benefits either Bernie Sanders or John Kasich. That’s too bad. Trump is wild and violent, and Clinton is uninspiring and shady.

P.S. My Politics

Because of the tendency to brand anyone who criticizes the Republican party as a liberal, I would like to state my politics here. I am a former Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and am now registered as a Democrat. I intend to re-register as an Independent for this presidential election, because it is clear to me that neither party represents my moderate values.

Advice, Politics and Parenting

Soleil Sleeps

I thought about writing a post mortem election post on what the Democrats could have done better with their online communications campaign (starting with their relentless spamming of my email address in spite of several opt-out requests). Then I decided not to. After my Mashable post on the two party’s approaches, did I really need to offer this unsolicited criticism? No one at the Democrats is asking for my advice.

As a new parent, I am getting quite a bit of advice right now. Some of it is paid (pediatrician, lactatian, etc.), some of it is requested advice from friends who have been there, and most of it is unsolicited from family, friends, and online community members.

Don’t get me wrong. I generally hear people out. It’s important for people to share their experiences, and really, parenting is such a great life journey, it’s hard not to… I understand that.

That doesn’t mean listening to everyone makes sense. There are no absolutes. Especially when someone has no experience in a situation — like me and politics. I have never run a political campaign, I only get online communications as a generalist. While I certainly have some experiences to share (and I kept it to SM experience only in my Mashable post), who am I to tell Tim Kaine and company how to run an election? Opinions like this are a dime a dozen on Twitter.

Experience-based advice is better. But, it’s important to note, no singular experience is 100% right. For example, everyone told me a baby couldn’t turn itself sleeping on its back until it was roughly three months old; that babies enjoyed sleeping on their backs. Soleil turned herself on day two and hasn’t stopped since (no arm swaddling for her). Like her daddy, she likes sleeping on her side.

Point being, advice — particularly when it is an unsolicited unexperienced absolutism — rarely has value, nor is it usually welcome. Further, when we do have experience, isn’t it best to couch it as just that? Something like, “Hey, this is just my experience.”

This is what’s wrong with online communications today, the amount of pontificators offering absolutist advice. That’s why I wrote last week’s punk social media post, which pointed out a general groundswell of discontent with social media “rules” today. We have a lot to add when it’s a shared knowledge, it goes off the rails when it becomes an enforced dictate.

What if we are right? This seems like an obvious question at this point. The answer: “You can lead the horse to the water…” Some people learn by their own experiences. After we offer our experiences, isn’t it best to let them do just that? And cheer them on if they find a different way? Or allow them to fail gracefully without rubbing it in?

Just some thoughts on advice. And until someone at the DNC asks me, I’ll let the Democrats judge their own results (but I would be delighted not to be included in their email lists anymore).