An animated but articulate critical mass has so strongly objected to the final sentence of my last column on the conservative Republican era that I am forced to admit it was a bit of a mess. Here's the sentence: "What can be said is that at this point, the conservative Republican era doesn't have much to show for itself."
Read the letters that follow and you'll see the objections. No, I do not think the American Republican Party deserves credit for the fall of European communism as many readers do. But I did say earlier in the piece that, "The entire ideological spectrum of the country has taken five giant steps to the right since the Reagan cabinet was formed." This baldly contradicts my final thought and it was my blunder. Shifting the ideological superstructure of politics is indeed something to show.
Still, as I argued, most of the essential goals of the conservativism of this era have not been achieved despite a long reign, and some of them never got more than campaign lip service. Was this true at the end of the New Deal-Great Society era? I think not. The programs of the New Deal and the civil rights laws of the Great Society were permanent governmental legacies that matched the political philosophy of their founding fathers. The conservative Republican era has not hit that mark yet. But I was too dismissive.
Boy did 1980s suck out loud! And the gloomiest night of all, November 4th, 1980. I tried hard to resist calling it a revolution but it was true. Social progress came to a grinding halt and the right wing yahoos took over everything, then a month later John Lennon gets killed. The country lightened up a bit in the 1990s but for the most part, the country is in the grip of right wing paranoids. No one talks about liberation, freedom, the arts or even ending poverty... it's fear, distrust and hatred.
Frank S. Wagner
Of all the journalists plying their trade these days, I would hope that you might disembowel the term "conservative" as it is self-applied by bible thumpers, war mongers, soulless politicos, and talk radio howler monkeys. CONSERVATIVE?
What's conservative about self-described fundamentalists proclaiming Christianity is under attack as they try to force their version of Jesus into every aspect of governance?
What's conservative about arrogant neocons starting a war of aggression in Iraq when commitments in Afghanistan were not met, then defending dissembling and torture as legitimate tools of US states craft?
What's conservative about Republicans whipping contentious, reactionary minorities into a frenzy in order to get elected, then cutting taxes in a manner that provides for the consolidation of wealth into the hands of those who already have the most, pumping up federal spending such that the largess lands in the coffers of those "favorably" connected, and sticking the US taxpayers with the resulting massive accumulation of debt?
What's conservative about right-wing radio "entertainers" fomenting ignorance, fear, prejudice, hatred, and violence over publicly licensed airwaves?
You may call the last 25 years a Republican era if you wish, but it hasn't been conservative.
One accomplishment that has occurred in the past 25 years that is consistently overlooked by just about everyone (especially the MSM) was the WINNING of World War III (the Cold War).
People would have given you great odds that the Berlin Wall would still be standing on 1/1/90 if you had taken the bet on 12/1/80 that the Wall would be DOWN on that date.
As someone who served his country in the early 1970s I'm proud that I did my very, very small part to make that happen. That helped usher in the boom of the 1990s (remember the peace dividend?) which helped save the Clinton presidency from total disrepute.
Your article contradicts itself.
Did the entire ideological spectrum "take five giant steps to the right" or does the Republican era "not have very much to show for itself?" Clearly the latter is the correct proposition, when only conservative ideals (victims' rights, work, national defense, etc.) are verboten, and liberal ideals (criminals' rights, welfare, support of terrorists, etc.) are the ideological currency of the day.
Timothy S. Comer
The last sentence of this article was completely incomprehensible. Do these not count?
1. Winning the cold war
2. Welfare reform
3. Optimism (vs. malaise)
4. The ascendancy of capitalism, even communists are capitalists now.
5. Almost 25 years of nearly uninterrupted economic growth
6. tax reductions
Republican Reagan used to talk about our country as a shining city on a hill. Now we have a Republican administration that argues it shouldn't be prohibited legally from torturing prisoners, while the whole world watches the debate and is horrified by our contempt for humanity.
Republican Reagan, at least while he was a candidate, portrayed federal deficits as something close to evil. Now we have a Republican administration that seems to thrive on deficit spending.
I could go on, but the conclusion is obvious. Reagan failed and the Republicans that followed him have failed. But the Democrats have failed too, in that they couldn't get together and offer an alternative vision that makes sense to majority. There must be another way, a third way, and the people need to find it soon, or the country itself will fail.
Steven G. Randolph
Land O Lakes, FL
We showed up 25 years ago, we're there still, and we're going to keep on coming to crush your smug, liberal bias under the heel of truth and democratic vigor. Watch out, because you are on the wrong side of history. Viva Reagan!!!
Flower Mound, TX
Read your article today and I guess the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union isn't a big thing is it?
What can be said is that at this point, the conservative Republican era doesn't have much to show for itself.
I guess freedom for hundred's of millions of people isn't a big thing to you is it?
Shame on you.
"What can be said is that at this point, the conservative Republican era doesn't have much to show for itself."
It does have the fall of communism and 20 years from now, may be able to say that is has democracy in the Middle East to show for itself. It also can point to the notion that reduction in taxes can result in increased federal receipts (via the growth in the economy resulting from such tax cuts).
You are correct, though, that the conservative era has not downsized or streamlined the federal government or "socialistic" programs in the least, but has, in fact, strengthened them and solidified them forever.
If you still want to send in an e-mail, you'll have to read a real column to find the address.