Liberals quickly seized on President Obama’s inaugural speech as laying
the foundation for progressive goals that will work for all Americans,
not just the rich and favored few.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer moaned that the speech signaled
the end of the age of Reagan. If that’s really the case, and I truly hope
it is, then the nation has a lot to celebrate at the beginning of Obama’s
journey to right the wrong inherent in conservatism.
The old saying, “History is written by the victors,” aptly applies to
Reagan. Thirty years of dominant conservatism have deified the 40th
Reagan’s first inaugural address set the tone: Government is the problem,
not the solution. Conservatives swooned and the country paid dearly.
It was during the Reagan years that supply-side economics gained a
foothold because it allowed the rich to feel good about their greed. It
was an era of hostile business takeovers where the few gobbled up their
rivals to enrich themselves and make a mockery of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
One of Reagan’s first acts was to bust the PATCO union, throwing into
unemployment every air traffic controller who dared strike. Jobs began
disappearing, creating a deep recession and lowering wages that is still
The recession was aided by tax cuts so deep that even the
free-market resident in the Oval Office had to eventually reverse himself.
Reagan’s administration engaged in lawlessness with the Iran-Contra
affair, labeled the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire -- because all good conservatives must have an enemy. He had his
enemies at home too, lambasting welfare queens and presiding over a
grotesque rise in homelessness.
In other words, Reagan used the government, as Republicans always do, to make life worse for ordinary Americans while allowing a corporate takeover of the country’s riches and
This dominant philosophy has been running the country ever
since, and that includes the Clinton years when good ol’ Bill marched to
the right. That march seems to be over with Obama’s second term.
In a recent poll, the president had a 51 percent approval rating compared
to eight percent for Congress, which is why congressional Democrats need
to be loud in refuting their GOP colleagues. And the president needs
to keep reminding Americans that Republicans stand in the way of making
Recently, Congressional Republicans met in North Carolina (the only swing state that
stood by Romney) to conjure a little alchemy to turn their cheap
metals into gold at the ballot box. How can they appeal to more voters
when they demonize immigrants, marginalize minorities, insult and injure
women, praise the rich over the poor, subscribe to punishing economic
policies and treat government as a barrier instead of a major agent for
As the country inches to the left, Republicans seem to be poised for
extinction. Knowing that, the GOP in Virginia wants to change the state’s
electoral counting and tie it to congressional districts instead of winner
take all, thereby setting the stage for the GOP to reign supreme. It’s a
sign of desperation for losers.
Republicans have had 30 years of their philosophy in place and the country
is worse off than at any time since President Roosevelt’s first term began
in 1933. Most Americans don’t want to continue down this path and are
ready to embrace liberal values.
Stephen Dick is a columnist for CNHI News Service and can be reached at