by Thomas Holmes
Reagan in ’76! Let that thought wash over you for just a moment and cherish the possibilities of an earlier Soviet defeat, avoiding skyrocketing inflation and the safety of those 55 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days on Jimmy Carter’s watch. On the other hand we did get Billy Beer. I bring up that decade of tope-colored tuxedos, massive lines just to fill the car tank and the ear worm known as disco not to wonder about what could have been, but rather because the GOP and its voters are at a similar crossroads and this time. This time, according to many conservatives, we might the Republican elite as well as the Democrats hoping we vote for the wrong nominee.
Much has already been written in light of this week’s tumultuous Republican debate, mainly at the expense of those Basic Civics 101 drops outs at CNBC. The real lesson, however, is to recall that the fight between establishment Republicans (read Democrat lites) and true Federalist conservative isn’t exactly new. The same week John Boehner gave the least subtle middle finger to the American people as he exits Congress and the entrenched GOP respond by empowering a pro-amnesty Speaker, the top three Republican candidates are all exact opposites. In 1976, Ford v. Reagan caused an earthquake inside the GOP. There’s a fantastic recap of the 1976 convention by Washington Times writer, Craig Shirley. In it he describes Ford’s misstep by asking bitter rival Reagan to make a few extemporaneous remarks. Reagan turned that into such an incredible moment that he literally hushed the previously fighting crowd and even caused a Ford supporter remark, in awe, that they just nominated the wrong man. The Gipper brought the team together but he didn’t get to move them forward for another four years.
In 2015, we’re faced with much the same problem. Despite the success of conservative presidents like Reagan and Calvin Coolidge, establishment Republican feel just a threatened as Democrats are. Rush Limbaugh went so far to say on his radio show on Wednesday that Washington Republicans would rather have Hillary as president than a Republican who’s, you know, acts like an actual Republican. After the back-hand to the face that is this two year budget deal Boehner and Obama hammered out in secret, it’s hard to disagree.
Constitution loving Americans probably shouldn’t be surprised at anything Obama jams into our lives anymore. Why, on the other hand, any Republican would support a budget that extends Obama’s policies one year beyond his term would befuddle even those 1970s establishment RINOs. It certainly suggests that the battle for revitalizing American begins with learning our lesson from 1976 and recapturing the Republican party.