Ronald Reagan would have beaten Barack
by Bob Barr
Columnist
November 12, 2012 11:51 PM | 1789 views | 4 4 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For winners or for losers, post-election analysis is an important, indeed vital, component of responsible political management. When a party’s candidate loses an election, as the GOP’s Mitt Romney did last Tuesday, it is important to marshal the data and analyze it as objectively as possible, and from that process make adjustment so the same thing does not happen the next go ’round. However, glib statements about the fundamental underpinnings of a political party based on electoral results barely announced, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Thus it is with statements made by political analyst Matt Towery of Cob less than 24 hours after the polls closed Nov. 6. As reported in this newspaper Nov. 8, Towery told a gathering of business leaders the day after Romney’s loss that the GOP standard bearer lost because the Republican Party refuses to cut its ties to former President Ronald Reagan — to “give up the ghost of Ronald Reagan” as the paper reported.

Such analysis, especially from the justifiably well-respected Towery, may give rise to an intriguing headline, but reflects neither an understanding of what Ronald Reagan stood for nor of how he succeeded in beating an incumbent president (Jimmy Carter) in 1980 and a respected former vice president (Walter Mondale) four years later, in both instances by electoral college landslides.

The historical reality is that Reagan was not an ideologue. He was a political realist; a savvy and intelligent political figure who actually defined and led not only the vast majority of Republican voters, but a significant percentage of Democratic voters as well. Contrast this with Romney, who appeared always to be reacting to what he believed the conservative wing of the GOP wanted him to say and do. In short, Reagan was a true leader, who captured the needs and the desires of the public and transmitted them in a clear and positive vision for his promised presidency.

Yes, Reagan was conservative. But he was a genuine conservative; a transformational politician who captured the mood of the country he sought to lead, and who did so not by dividing or “playing to the base,” but by offering a truly inclusive agenda for growth and freedom.

Reagan was pro-life, but not dogmatically so, and he never made this a defining issue of either his candidacy or his presidency.

Candidate Reagan understood, of course, he was not going to win the vote of everyone who was likely to vote on Nov. 4, 1980. Importantly, however, Reagan did not — as did Romney in his infamous “47 percent” comment — deliberately or inadvertently alienate those who might be inclined to vote for his Democratic opponent. Reagan (himself a former Democrat) actually viewed such voters as potential Reagan voters, and reached out to them by highlighting issues of common concern on which they could agree, such as lower taxes and Second Amendment freedom. Reagan understood the diversity of America’s heritage; but to him this represented a cohesive element rather than a divisive one.

It was this insight that accounts for Reagan’s success with Hispanic voters in 1980 — winning 35 percent of the Latino vote. Had Romney been able to even come close to matching Reagan in this regard, he likely would have won last Tuesday’s contest.

As Towery correctly noted in his post-election analysis, the United States today is a very different country than 32 years ago when the “Gipper“ was first elected president. But since when did understanding, vision, bipartisanship and compassion — all elements of Reagan’s candidacy and presidency — become anathema to the Republican Party (or for any political party for that matter) as Towery implies it should?

Had Reagan faced President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, he almost certainly would have won. For virtually every element accounting for Romney’s failure to connect with a majority of voters last week, Reagan’s genuineness, good humor, vision and optimism would have carried the day for the GOP. Fielding such a candidate to represent the Party in 2016 will greatly increase — not decrease — the chances that the 45th President of the United States will be a Republican. And fortunately for the GOP, there are a number of such potential candidates in its farm team — young Ronald Reagans ready to lead the country to a new Morning in America.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Cobb) is an attorney in Marietta.
Comments
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anonymous
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November 23, 2012
"Reagan’s success with Hispanic voters in 1980 — winning 35 percent of the Latino vote. Had Romney been able to even come close to matching Reagan in this regard, he likely would have won last Tuesday’s contest.

Hard to see how winning 35% counts as success.

In any case, Barr is wrong -- Hispanics were NOT the decisive voting block in this election, although they very well may be in future ones.

The analysis has already been done, and it shows that Obama would have won enough key states -- like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa -- to reach 270, even if Romney had won ALL the Hispanic votes on those states.

Yes, Hispanic voters were decisive in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico. But in the end Obama didn't need those states to win.

If Republicans want to worry about not ticking off a key group of voters, they should try being a little nicer to single white women.

But of course, that would mean treating them like thinking adults instead of little children -- or chattal property.

So I guess that's off the table.
Kevin Foley
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November 16, 2012
Cobb senior - Compromise is when both sides leave the table unhappy.
Kevin Foley
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November 13, 2012
Unlike Romney, Reagan was not afraid to stand up for who and what he was. Unlike Romney, he kept the far right fringe where they belonged, out on the fringe. He didn't let the fringe drive the agenda, as Romney did. Unlike the far right tea party crowd, Reagan compromised and raised taxes to avoid fiscal devestation. Why, Reagan even worked with and - gasp - liked Democrats.

As Ronald Reagan Jr. said during the GOP primary, "Reagan wouldn't have been Reaganesque enough for today's Republicans."

East Cobb Senior
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November 16, 2012
Mr. Foley, President Reagan recognized politics for what it was at the time, "the art of compromise" remember his saying if you agree with me 70% of the time your my friend. He was fortunate to have had two leaders in the House and one in the Senate that also understood that principle. Tip O"Neill and Bob Michael in the House and Bob Dole in the Senate. Unfortunately the fringes in both parties and in both Houses of Congress have captured those bodies and both are now driven by pure ideology and not a sense of compromise and consensus.
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