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Why Mitt Romney Is More Like Ronald Reagan Than You Think

I’m a loud and proud Mitt Romney supporter. And it bothers me that I have to defend him as much as I do with fellow Republicans. The far right has been looking for the “anti-Romney” candidate all year long fearing that Romney isn’t “conservative enough” to go against Barack Obama. I’m here to tell them they’re absolutely wrong.

When I ask far right conservatives just what the heck are they looking for, the answer I get the most is “the next Ronald Reagan.” But what they don’t realize is that they’ve created this monolithic myth around Reagan that is not only inaccurate, but is impossible to live up to.

The far right wants to believe that Reagan was the most conservative president in history who never had to compromise in his life. If only. 

While Reagan certainly talked a good game of conservative principles and values, his record shows that while some taxes went down, others went up, and government spending as well as the national debt continued to grow under his administration uninterrupted. Moreover, Reagan had a Democrat-majority Congress all throughout his eight year term in the White House. He couldn’t get anything done without their approval, which led to some of the greatest pieces of bipartisan legislation this country has ever seen, including the 1982 Job Training Partnership Act, the 1983 Social Security Amendments, the 1984 Deficit Reduction Act, and the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

So how is that any different from what Romney had to deal with as governor of Massachusetts with an 85% Democrat state legislature? Romney passed what he could and vetoed anything he didn’t like, but ultimately reached across the aisle whenever he had to and solved a lot of the problems Massachusetts had, which included spending cuts, lowering taxes, and health care reform, that turned a $3 billion deficit into a $700 million budget surplus and gave the state a credit rating upgrade.

The far right also accuses Romney of being a flip-flopper on issues like abortion. Hello again Ronald Reagan, who signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act as governor of California in order to reduce the number of back alley abortions that was out of control in California at the time. Reagan then “flip-flopped,” and later became pro-life.

In fact, Reagan was also a liberal Democrat while he was working in Hollywood, supported Franklin Roosevelt’s big government policies under the New Deal, and was divorced.

Today’s far right would consider Reagan to be a “moderate sellout” with “too much baggage in his past.” They would have you believe that the difference between Romney and Obama is a difference between Coke and Pepsi. I couldn’t disagree more. Romney is a foreign policy hawk, a staunch supporter of lowering taxes, and an unapologetic free market capitalist with 25 years of private sector experience under his belt, just as Reagan was. Obama, on the other hand, is a career politician who fights for tax hikes and believes government is the solutions to all of life’s problems.

Romney provides a stark contrast to Obama much like Reagan did to Jimmy Carter in 1980. The country was suffering from a crippling recession with any hope of an economic recovery blunted by excessive taxation and regulation. One candidate blamed the American people for being soft and lazy instead of looking at his own misguided faith in big government solutions and redistribution of wealth policies while another firmly believed in free market economics and understood what makes America the great nation that it is – because of its liberty, prosperity, and strong national security. 

Déjà vu 2012, where Americans have to choose once again between continuing down the same path of big government-based solutions and economic stagnation under its current leadership or switch gears to a leader who wants to flex America’s muscles and reopen the private sector economy for business again without apologizing for either.

“Coke and Pepsi?” Yeah right.

Photo Credit: Howard O. Young

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