News & Politics

NYT Columnist Says Reaganism Is Ripe for a Return

NYT Columnist Says Reaganism Is Ripe for a Return
(AP Photo/Scott Stewart, File)

The New York Times allows one token conservative columnist–and no, it’s not David Brooks.

Ross Douthat has been with the liberal paper for a dozen years, and he’s still only 41. He’s spent most of his pundit career imploring Republicans to move beyond Ronald Reagan’s conservatism.

But with soaring inflation, rising crime rates, a chaotic border, and foreign policy challenges — including an incipient battle with China — Douthat acknowledged that there are many parallels between the 1970s and 1980s and today in his Sunday column.

With a focus on inflation, supply-chain issues, crime, and China’s “Cold War-style brinkmanship around Taiwan,” he writes that Beijing could be what “Republican hawks were always looking for the next organizing threat for U.S. foreign policy.”

The Biden administration’s catastrophic surrender from Afghanistan while Communist China’s power continues to grow has led to comparisons of Biden’s disastrous tenure to Jimmy Carter’s failed term.

There are also other issues at work now that were not two generations ago; none are advantageous to Democrats.

“The vaulting ambitions of cultural progressivism, the march of activist ideas through elite institutions and public bureaucracies, have given Republicans a chance to regain the culture-war advantages that they lost during the socially liberal years between Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the Supreme Court’s establishment of a right to same-sex marriage,” Douthat writes. “As in the 1970s, the cultural left has lately won a series of victories but then has run way ahead of them, creating a gap between its vanguard ideas and public opinion.”

He admits that inflation and the murder spike are influenced by pandemic conditions, so they could recede more quickly than four decades ago, but Douthat also writes, “My own suspicion is that the norm of masking in liberal cities has facilitated crime, which is another reason for blue America to seek a more rapid exit from its Covid rules.”

Noting Glenn Youngkin’s surprise gubernatorial win earlier this month in Virginia, he adds, “Finally, whatever culture-war advantage the Great Awokening has handed to Republicans, the cultural right still has deep structural weaknesses relative to the Reagan era, given the decline of religious affiliation and family formation since the 1980s and the growth of progressive ideological influence not just in Hollywood or the academy but in Silicon Valley and corporate America.”

“For the electoral landscape of this specific moment, and the politics of 2022, the G.O.P. has advantages unlike any in my pundit’s lifetime,” Douthat concludes. “A chance to win, and maybe win big, by eschewing the unpleasant work of adaptation and simply playing those 1980s hits again.”

Related: Biden and Democrats Are Failing America

We shall see if Republicans heed such advice. As for Democrats, in the wake of GOP triumphs on Nov. 2, even the New York Times editorial board advised the party to moderate. But other than intra-White House bickering, so far there’s no interest.

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