< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: The End of the Reagan Revolution

Friday, September 16, 2005

The End of the Reagan Revolution

The Reagan Revolution was the beginning of what is today considered mainstream conservatism. Lower taxes. Less government. Strong defense. Gingrich and his followers were merely true believers from the Reagan era. Norquist and groups like the Heritage Foundation flourished after Reagan's second term. What we consider the Republican party today is largely a result of the Reagan Revolution.

Last night, a by-product (though not a true-believer by any stretch) of the Reagan Revolution, President George W. Bush, declared the end of the Revolution. How?

He accepted responsibility for the government's failure to respond. Put another way, he accepted a premise of liberal democratic government: that the federal government owes a duty to the people to respond and help in disaster situations. Many have remarked about this Administration's un-canny ability to avoid responsibility. They weren't at fault for failing to protect on 9/11 because "no one could have foreseen" what was going to happen with those planes, there was just no way to get it right. They weren't at fault for the faulty intelligence in the Iraq War because at the time Saddam was a "grave and gathering" threat, there was just no time to get it right.

Most thought this "spinning" was a way to avoid electoral liability. That is probably true. Equally true though is that if the government accepts responsibility, it is asserting that it has failed to live up to some duty, and that is playing on Liberal, not Conservative turf.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. President Bush, with these words last night, made it officially clear that Republicans either do not believe in the Reagan Revolution anymore, or have decided it is no longer an acceptable form of governing.
Four years after the frightening experience of September the 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution.

Reagan is likely turning over in his grave.