Regarding American politics, there are these three rules to remember:
Correlation is not causation,
There is always the yin and the yang and,
Politics is temporary. Nothing lasts forever (except principles).
Rule 1: Correlation is not causation. Events must be dissected to find the true root cause. For example, America is faced with the issue of illegal immigration. There are many arguments about its cause – one reason often given is the illegal immigrants are seeking better economic conditions, that they just want to work. America has a historical high unemployment in entry level and low skilled jobs – many, such as seasonal landscape work, formerly filled by teenagers as a first job or a first exercise in capitalism (setting up their own business). Illegal immigration is correlated with higher unemployment in the youth and unskilled demographic but is illegal immigration caused by “jobs American’s won’t do” or are “jobs Americans won’t do” a function of illegal immigration (and overweening local licensure regulations and federal labor laws).
Rule 2: Nothing ever happens in a vacuum and the political equivalent of Newton’s Third Law applies – every political action has an equal and opposite reaction. There is always a yin/yang relationship in politics – just as Reagan was a reaction to Carter, Trump was a reaction to Obama. It is impossible to understand politics today without understanding the politics of yesterday because one either works to amplify, preserve or cancel the other. No more than Reagan’s policies can be understood without knowing the errors of Carter, Trump’s cannot be understood without looking at President Obama’s. Principled politics has been replaced with a playground slap fight.
Rule 3: All is temporary in the American political world. Nothing lasts forever and this is especially true in the world of politics where “forever” simply does not exist…and that’s not a bad thing, that is the way the American Republic was designed. America is designed to be changed – albeit within some very limited and enumerated boundaries. This was the way foreseen for the country to continue to stay young and relevant as people and their situations changed. That is why the Founders based the governance on the country on very simple, very limited transcendent and immutable principles rather than trying to define and control everything. They gave the Republic room to breathe and grow – a chance for it to adapt and survive without infringing on the rights of its people.
I completely disagree with Stephen Moore (someone I am normally 99.9% in agreement with). Reaganism is not dead, it has not been permanently replaced with “economic populism” and conservatives should NOT just give up and hop on the Trump Train. Based on Rule #3, it has merely been temporarily eclipsed by a wave of economic populism as a reaction to 8 years of listless, rudderless and feckless neo-socialism, authoritarianism, crony capitalism and corporatism.
The reason the death of Reaganism has been greatly misreported is simple – the basis for the struggle is misunderstood. Today, it is Trump Alliance vs. the Hillary/Obama Axis – each a reaction to the policies of the other – but the root of the conflict is principle, not politics.
As much as the Political Third Law applies, it is still important to understand the first point – that correlation is not causation. It is important to understand that the cause of the policies and there are opposites at work. This is the great struggle of the Republic that started even before the Constitution was ratified – it is the eternal struggle between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, between the statists and the individualists.
Where the Trump vs. Hillary/Obama fight is based on immediate and short term reactions to each other, Reagan based his ideas of governance on the fundamental founding “First Principles” delineated in the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. What we have seen since Reagan are simply school yard skirmishes over which corner of the playground the parties will control. Reagan fought for the whole playground.
One thought on “Reaganism Lives”
I am so glad that I was around and old enough to appreciate Reagan’s time as POTUS.