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The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism

Henry Olsen
Format
Book
Published
New York, NY : Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
ISBN
9780062475268, 0062475266, 9780062475275, 0062475274
Summary
"In this sure to be controversial book in the vein of The Forgotten Man, a political analyst argues that conservative icon Ronald Reagan was not an enemy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, but his true heir and the popular program's ultimate savior. Conventional political wisdom views the two most consequential presidents of the twentieth-century--FDR and Ronald Reagan--as ideological opposites. FDR is hailed as the champion of big-government progressivism manifested in the New Deal. Reagan is seen as the crusader for conservatism dedicated to small government and free markets. But Henry Olsen argues that this assumption is wrong. In The Working Class Republican, Olsen contends that the historical record clearly shows that Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal itself were more conservative than either Democrats or Republicans believe, and that Ronald Reagan was more progressive than most contemporary Republicans understand. Olsen cuts through political mythology to set the record straight, revealing how Reagan--a longtime Democrat until FDR's successors lost his vision in the 1960s--saw himself as FDR's natural heir, carrying forward the basic promises of the New Deal: that every American deserves comfort, dignity, and respect provided they work to the best of their ability. Olsen corrects faulty assumptions driving today's politics. Conservative Republican political victories over the last thirty years have not been a rejection of the New Deal's promises, he demonstrates, but rather a representation of the electorate's desire for their success--which Americans see as fulfilling the vision of the nation's founding. For the good of all citizens and the GOP, he implores Republicans to once again become a party of "FDR Conservatives"--To rediscover and support the basic elements of FDR (and Reagan's) vision"--
"For 30 years the GOP has wrapped itself in the mantle of Ronald Reagan, winning national elections by appealing to free trade, low taxes and small government. Yet today the old Reagan coalition is falling apart, while its ideology has been rejected by the Republican base in favor of the nativist appeals of Donald Trump. Where should the party turn next? Ironically, answers political scientist Henry Olsen, to Reagan himself. Not the Reagan of conservative mythology, but the real Reagan - Reagan the fan of FDR and the supporter and ultimate savior of the New Deal. Reagan began his political career as a proud New Deal Democrat and an admirer of FDR. As Olsen shows in this sharply revisionist political biography, that admiration never changed, even as he eventually developed into an opponent of big government. It wasn't the New Deal that Regan objected to but LBJ's Great Society, which represented a massive expansion of state power in an attempt to solve social and economic problems best left to free market mechanisms. As such, Reagan never saw himself as FDR's political nemesis, but as his natural heir. Indeed Reagan built a philosophy that carried forward the basic promises of the New Deal -- that every American deserves comfort, dignity, and respect provided they work to the best of their ability. Neither party today truly understands what the New Deal represented - and still represents - to the American people. In fact, Olsen argues, the New Deal -- and Roosevelt himself -- were much more conservative than most Americans believe, while Reagan was much more progressive than most - conservatives and liberals alike - understand"--
Description
xx, 345 pages ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Technical Details
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