Former Republican senator says Ronald Reagan wouldn’t identify with today’s GOP

For many months now, I’ve been arguing that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that Ronald Reagan couldn’t win a GOP primary election these days. And seemingly with each passing day, another prominent Republican expresses much the same opinion.

The latest of these is former GOP Sen. Chuck Hegel (above) of Nebraska, who SAYS “extremists” now hold sway in his party:

“Reagan wouldn’t identify with this party. There’s a streak of intolerance in the Republican Party today that scares people. Intolerance is a very dangerous thing in a society because it always leads to a tragic ending,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was never driven by ideology. He was a conservative but he was a practical conservative. He wanted limited government but he used government and he used it many times. And he would work with the other party.”

The situation today is similar to where the GOP found itself in the early 1950s, when there was a battle for the direction of the party over the party’s identity, Hagel said. Dwight Eisenhower and his moderate allies won that fight, diminishing the influence of extremists like Joe McCarthy, Hagel said.

But today, the extremists are winning.




  1. Truth About Energy

    I wasn’t aware that Chuck Hagel is a Republican, after his “wife’s” endorsement of Obama. He is speaking for his party, not the Republican Party.

  2. Truth About Energy: The fact remains that Ronald Reagan would be considered a RINO in today’s Republican Party. Such is the extent of the GOP’s current extremism.

    Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he supported a precursor to the Buffett Rule. In his first term, he raised taxes when unemployment was nearing 11 percent. He raised taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. He gave amnesty to illegal immigrants, expanded the size of the federal government, tripled the deficit and added trillions to the debt. He bailed out domestic industries, and called for a world without nuclear weapons. He also met with our most hated enemy without preconditions, criticized Israel, and illegally funneled arms to Iran.

    As governor of California, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation’s first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, and expanded the nation’s largest state-based Medicaid program (socialized medicine).

    What’s more, Reagan did something today’s GOP nutcases won’t abide: He compromised with Democrats.

    Them’s the facts, buddy boy, whether you like it or not.

  3. By the way, Truth About Energy, as a senator, Chuck Hagel received a lifetime rating of 84 percent from the American Conservative Union and consistent A and B grades from the National Taxpayers Union.

    But you claim not to be aware that Hagel is a Republican.

    There seem to be lots of things of which you unaware.

  4. expdoc


    JFK most likely would have agreed with everything I just said, with the exception that he may have been pro-life because of his Catholic beliefs.

    The difference between then and now is the degree to which Democrats pursue these principles and the way they do it. The primary voice of the Party seems to come mostly from the far left. There’s no longer much room for compromise, the extremes of every principle are pursued to the maximum, and those who disagree are viciously attacked.

    Would JFK be a Democrat today? I think he would find it difficult. Or maybe with more leaders like him, the Party itself would be different.

    I say none of this with reference to the Republican Party. They have their own strengths, failings, and problems. But I’m not one of them, so it doesn’t bother me so much. What does bother me is the current state of the Democratic Party. I haven’t left it, but more and more it seems to have left me.

  5. Reagan has a legacy so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television set beyond the elaborate myth now concocted around him. Did he really rid the world of commie scum? Did destroy or save our economy? Check out my portrait of The Gipper and help me figure it out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/happy-100th-gipper.html with some Cold War Hollywood!

  6. shawnnews

    I think most of the presidents have surface religious beliefs. To say JFK could’ve been pro-life because of his Catholic beliefs is true — however his womanizing has nothing to do with his Catholic beliefs. Lust, adultery, sex outside of marriage are all sins. I wouldn’t look to politicians as examples of successful virtue.

  7. Luke Fredrickson

    A fun game – Gerald Ford would be a moderate Democrat by today’s standards.

    Nixon would be a protoype Republican Controller in Dixon (fiscal conservative).

    Eugene McCarthy would fit right in with today’s Tea Party.

  8. Luke: You mean Joe McCarthy rather than Gene, don’t you?

  9. Luke Fredrickson

    BTW, the Dixon scandal is so overblown.

    All Rita did was use her entrepeneurial initiative to follow Republican budget orthodoxy – she funneled revenue from Dixon’s bloated entitlement programs and put that cash where it belonged, in the hands of the job creators.

  10. Luke Fredrickson

    Yes Pat, thanks.

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