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.

Yellow Stars, Pink Triangles, and Blue Crescents

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As part of their systematic program of dehumanizing people in concentration camps, the Nazis made Jews and gays wear yellow star and pink triangle badges, respectively. In the case of the Jews, this eventually led the Nazis trying to kill them off in the world’s most reviled case of genocide. They were also made to wear yellow stars in public, too. Gays were subjected to execution, bizarre medical experiments, castration, and jail sentences.

I bring these horrific atrocities up for a reason. The United States is in danger of succumbing to a dark fear that the country will consistently victimized by Islamic State terrorists, radicalized criminals who state Islam as their cause.

Bigotry waged against Muslims is reaching an all time high in this country, perhaps worse than the period of time immediately following 9-11. Hate crimes are increasing.

To be clear, the acts of radicalized terrorists are those of extreme fundamentalists, nor do they speak for the vast majority of 2.6 million Americans who state they are Muslim. Angst against American Muslims is fueled by the United States’ own radical conservatives, the Christian right and extreme Republicans.

The worst of the worst, presidential hopeful Donald Trump wants to close the borders to the Islamic peoples of the world, all one billion of them. In prior statements (since deflected as taken out of context), the demagogue Trump said he is willing to create a database — the modern registered list — of Muslims.

These rhetorical statements and the actions they imply are dangerously close to taking yet another dark step, requiring all Islamic people to wear blue crescent badges. Fortunately, all of these “solutions” are unconstitutional in our Democracy.

The Inexcusable Rhetoric of Racism

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Image by Padraig Rooney.

Trump’s defense is to have minions state that this is no different than when the United States put Japanese citizens in internment camps during World War II. This was one of the most cruel and embarrassing moments in U.S. history. Forty years later, Republican President Ronald Reagan signed a law apologizing for racism and paying reparations to those Japanese citizens.

Don’t think Donald Trump is alone in his fear-mongering demagoguery. Another leading Republican Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has stated the United States should only accept Christian refugees from Syria because they won’t commit acts of terror.

Christian right leader Jerry Fallwell Jr. suggests that all Americans should carry guns to shoot Muslim terrorists. Because guns are the answer, right? We don’t have enough armed American psychopaths going on mass murder rages. Now let’s arm more people and encourage them to shoot threatening Muslim Americans.

The real issue is ignorance and fear. Ignorant American citizens who don’t understand others, and are now reacting to fear. These people are preyed upon by their so-called political leaders. The end result of this rhetoric? Inexcusable wide-spread racism and bigotry.

This groundswell of hate supports the Islamic State’s rhetoric that Americans hate Muslims. Further, the angst meets the terrorist group’s goal of inspiring fear.

A Time to Be Active

We need to look at the moral fiber of this country. Do we truly believe in the principles outlined in our Constitution, the principles of tolerance and freedom? Or will we succumb to fear and hate-mongering.

If you think it can’t happen, that we won’t force Muslim Americans to wear blue crescent badges or register at the police station in every town they visit, then just consider what happened to Jews, gays and others in Nazi Europe; yellow stars, pink triangles, and horrors beyond the imagination. That Western “civilized” country succumbed to the fear and war mongering of Adolf Hitler.

Informed Americans need to be active in politics right now. It is a time to participate in debates, and make sure your voice is heard. More than anything, this is a time to fight racism and make sure that every American — regardless of race or religion — is welcome as part of our community.

It’s also a time for people to start taking Donald Trump seriously. The GOP has been forced to acknowledge Trump may actually win the Republican ticket. Like the Huffington Post, the rest of us, too, must come to grips with Donald Trump’s demagoguery and damaging statements.

We cannot allow the Donald Trumps and Ted Cruzes of the world destroy all of the great freedoms protected by the United States’ Constitution. To quote one of our founding fathers John Dickenson, “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.”