“What would Reagan do?” is the go-to mantra for today’s Republicans. They ponder that question when it comes to climate change, civil rights, and especially the economy. Ronald Reagan has become some sort of political Christ/saint-like figure that Republicans pray to in tough times. It has gotten so out of hand, that some conservatives launched a Republican social networking site, ReaganBook.
Just a quick Google search of “what would Reagan do” will inundate you with editorials sincerely asking that question, references to what Reagan did during his presidency, a link to a hilarious Daily Show clip, and images of “What Would Reagan Do” t-shirts. Yes, there is a market for W.W.R.D. apparel. Bracelets, however, are unavailable.
Like with any other religion, the Church of Reagan is not without its commentators and contentious scholars. While addressing the ISIS crisis in Iraq, Rick Perry and Rand Paul volleyed back and forth about which Reagan they would see: military-interventionist Reagan, or diplomatic Reagan?
When Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, the Reaganites gathered around their Reagen shrines, trying to make sense of what happened and looking for answers. Using similar situations that happened during Reagan’s term, conservatives determined that Reagan sprung into action, and there lies the answer. But that’s not what Reagan did.
Jon Stewart reminded everyone that when two commercial airliners were shot down, one by America, the other by North Korea, during Reagan’s term, the president didn’t want to budge because he was on vacation.
The fact is that Reagan, in all his Republican foolishness, actually acted within the context of the present situation. Right or wrong, that’s still what he did. The problem with the Reaganites is that they neglect to realize that some policies and political actions have a small shelf life. In short, Reagan-politics don’t apply to today’s world; case in point, Reaganomics.
So, what exactly would Reagan do? The truth is that no one knows, and it doesn’t matter. Living or not, what Reagan would have to say is unimportant and wouldn’t change anything. No one hears Democrats or progressives ask what JFK or Jimmy Carter would do because the world is different than what it used to be back then.
The only reason that Republicans pathetically flock to The Church of Reagan is because they no longer have a champion, someone that’s “respectable” within their ranks. They’ve canonized one of the worst presidents of all time into political sainthood.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.