Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Left Doesn’t Need A Rand And The Right Shouldn’t Want Another Reagan

When we wish for modern incarnations of the right’s biggest idols, we feed into the myths surrounding them.

I am more than a little disturbed by all these pieces coming out about why the left has no Ayn Rand as a guide or how Ronald Reagan was a “socialist” compared to Paul Ryan. One has to be more than a little careful not to elevate these two icons to acceptable status. Let’s keep Ayn Rand in perspective. She was a talented mass market novelist who wrote David and Goliath myths about a super individualist versus the behemoth society. Her philosophy was not even second rate. Ronald Reagan did not save the economy; his legacy was a crumbling foundation for growth and a rising tide of injustice. It could be seen as a positive to fail to measure up to either of them.

The right’s portrayal of Paul Ryan as a Reaganite is not that far from the truth, but the right then goes on to mythologize and entirely distort the Reagan years. Under Reagan in the 1980s, wages stopped growing, productivity grew at historically slow rates, investment was soft, and the deficit never came down to the levels promised. That deficit was an albatross around the neck of George H.W. Bush, his successor. Meanwhile, deregulation was unloosed, only to be given further impetus by the Clinton administration. The right goes so far as to attribute the productivity boom of the second half of the 1990s — that is, after the Clinton tax hike — to Reagan. How can we take such claims seriously?

Does Ryan go much farther than Reagan did in terms of changing Medicare from a guarantee to a poorly financed premium program? Sure. Would he cut other programs to almost zero? Yes. Did Reagan? No, but probably because he couldn’t politically, not because he didn’t want to. Maybe Reagan had a more generous heart than Ryan’s — he was once a lefty and never a rich kid like Ryan, and his dad worked for the New Deal. But he played the race card in California and on his way to the White House. Is there anything uglier these days than his attacks on “welfare queens” were then?

In the end, Romney and Ryan are both preaching Reagonomics: cut taxes and worry about closing the deficit sometime in the future. Neither tells us the loopholes they’d close or the other programs they’d cut to allegedly meet their deficit targets. Their aim is to reduce the size of government, as was Reagan’s and Milton Friedman’s. The deficit is a secondary consideration, for all the blather about it.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The National Memo

8 Responses to The Left Doesn’t Need A Rand And The Right Shouldn’t Want Another Reagan

  1. The only right wing idols the left should highlight are people like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Mourdoch and Akin, to name a few, and not necessarily to praise them, let alone idolize them. The things these people say, their paranoia, their plans to dismantle our social programs, and their plan to change a tax system that is already skewed to benefit the wealthy to give them even more breaks than they already get, should be re-emphasized to highlight the nefarious agnda the Tea Party has in store for the middle class and the poor, the 98% that only becomes relevant when it is time to vote.

  2. The left dosen’t talk like Reagan and is sometimes over intellectualized so the average Joe dosen’t understand them. This is why the right can derisively talk about eastern intellectuals, as being different from the rest of us. Most writers on the left delve into complex theories because others on the lef will undersrtand them, not really caring whether the knuckle dragging right does or not. When Reagan was president he would simplify the economy into a blueberry pie, and begins falsely carving it up to show where the money went and to justify his policy. The left would laugh at this but the rest of the country ate it up. The left needs to stop impressing themselves, and begin to simplify their theories if they want the rest of the country to understand them. This is why the right is so successful. They use catch phrases like drill babby drill, and always win the family values game. They do that because they linked it to the abortion debate and Christianity.
    What the left has to do is for example, link enviornmental protection to family values since it is about the protection of children, and begin the challange the right on how they are protecting children. Or how climate change will affect their childens future, not getting hung up in the science so much as making it simple enough to understand for all the people out there with a high school education or less. In the energy debate we have to show simply that for the 100 jobs that the coal plant will create 10,000 kids who live in the vicinity of the plant, will be at risk for asthma, and exposed to more carciogens in the air, and what will be the health care costs? More than the salaries of the workers? What parent wants their kids exposed to that, and that is where progressives have to fight this debate and make it about the value of protecting children. Childrens health vs corporate profits. We need to show that if the investors in the plant who live elsewhere would take less profit then the plant can be made safer for the kids. What is the sense of investing in a park if it is downwind from a coal plant. Also the left needs to hightlite that even Republican governors are fighting the states that produce this toxic smoke so it must be bad.

    The Left needs to stop worrying about publishing and writing interesting theories to each other and make it simple stupid!

    • Howa4x,
      I agree, the dialogue should be about our children’s future. The teapublicans talk about the reducing the deficit for our children’s future but if the air is being polluted because of coal producing plants and they can’t play outside and develop asthma how is that helping them not to mention the medical costs. The teapublicans want to do away with the EPA so corporations can continue to pollute the atmosphere and our rivers and oceans. They deny global warming when almost all scientists agree there is and when you look at what is happening in the United States with the worst drought in 100 years, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and unprecedented heat anyone with a lick of common sense agrees. The politicians that say they are looking out for our children’s future should explain why relaxing or doing away with rules that help corporations but harm our enviroment or safety is helping future generations.

      • KISS

        The fact in real life that applies to politics is to KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. As a former politician, you can easily confuse the voting public by making your argument or ideas too complicated to comprehend, and it doesn’t take much to get to that point.

        This thanks to our current education system. So don’t wonder why we are getting our fannies paddled in the world marketplace.

        • I agree….but the right is also highly skilled in the art of keeping the uninformed public SCARED. A person who is operating under FEAR is also unable to make any decision that is well thought out. Fear breeds anxiety, reactionary and impulsive decisions and behavior. Nothing works better than, “…”they” are gonna getcha…” fear. We fear what we don’t understand.

      • I agree with you a 100%, in fact, I believe that is the reason President Obama had so much trouble selling the Affordable Care Act. You would think most Americans would be in favor of legislation that would make medical coverage accessible to 41 million Americans who do not have insurance coverage because they can not afford the premiums, you would think most Americans would embrace concepts such as eliminating the pre-existng condition and cap clauses; but that was not the case and Dems paid a heavy price for our inability to articulate the benefits of that legislation in a way the average Joe would understand. In contrast, the GOP won that debate, at least short term, by talking about evil socialism, the fact that Americans would be forced to talk to bureaucrats instead of their doctors, death panels, paying for abortion, making ACA available to illegal immigrants and other ridiculous arguments that did not represent reality but resonated among those that are more inclined to believe a good 30-second political ad than analyze policy and how it would affect them as individuals and as citizens.

  3. Untill this country gets real and prosicutes the lying , cheating, murdering Bush , Cheny group (klan) there is very little reason to hope for positave change, The NAZI’S WON.

Leave a reply