An anniversary of hidden conservatism
By Bruce Walker
Conservatives greatly outnumber liberals in America, as I have pointed out in many articles. Every single polling organization which has measured ideological self-identification – and these organizations show a strong bias against conservatives – presents the same clear picture of a strongly conservative America. Not only do many conservatives scoff at this fact, but leftist bosses of news and culture do the same.
Ten years ago, on June 5, 2004, these leftists saw just how much they were out of synch with the rest of America. President Reagan, who had been out of office for more than fifteen years and who had been out of the public eye for almost as long, died. In the past, when American presidents had been out of office for a long time died, there was a respectful nod from the media and not much more.
Can anyone recall how America reacted when Eisenhower died? He was an enormously popular president who had commanded Allied forces in the European Theater and Ike had been out of office for a much shorter period than Reagan when he died. Yet the Eisenhower death scarcely measured on the Richter Scale of American sentiment. Our reaction to the death of Eisenhower was the norm, not the exception.
Can anyone recall how we felt when Truman died? Or when Hoover died? Gerald Ford died a few years ago, and Ford, like Ike and Truman, was genuinely liked by most Americans and like Ike his administration was perceived as honorable and well intentioned. The leftist establishment was certainly willing to give these men as much notice and sympathy as Reagan when he died.
But America reacted very differently when Reagan died than when Ike or Ford or Truman or Hoover died. This great conservative leader, who had been virtually invisible for many years, was mourned in a way unique in our nation's history. Tens of millions of Americans waited for hours in long lines just to share a few brief seconds with this dead president.
Only three other times Americans have reacted so emotionally to the death of a president – Lincoln in 1865, FDR in 1945 and Kennedy in 1963. These three presidents died unexpectedly while in office. Lincoln and FDR were war presidents of long, bloody conflicts which were just coming to a successful victory. JFK, whose presidency had been hyped by the leftist establishment as soon as he took office, was a young man with a beautiful wife and small children who had been assassinated. Had these men died fifteen years after leaving office of a long illness there is no reason to believe that their passing would have merited more attention than the passing of Eisenhower or Truman.
Considering the circumstance of his death, the powerful pull which Reagan had on the hearts of ordinary Americans was greater than any American president in our nation's history. This pull was in spite of the disrespect and dislike of virtually the whole leftist establishment stunned the left.
Presidential Candidate Kerry, who as Senator Kerry imputed every vile motive conceivable to President Reagan, felt compelled during the 2004 presidential election to publicly commune with the spirit of Reagan so that Americans could see how much Kerry had really loved Reagan. His fellow senator from Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy, had actually gone to Moscow and tried to persuade the Soviets to manipulated international events to sabotage the Reagan re-election campaign in 1994.
Elena Kagan, we learned during her Senate confirmation hearings, was so depressed when Reagan was elected in 1980 that she got stinking drunk. (Justice Kagan also revealed that many of her leftist friends felt the same way.) Establishment White House reporters like Sam Donaldson treated Reagan during presidential press conferences with ill-concealed contempt.
The Republican Establishment had been just as hostile to Reagan's conservatism. His vice president, George H. Bush, had referred to Reagan's supply side ideas during the 1980 nomination campaign as "Voodoo Economics." As soon as Bush replaced Reagan, Bush told us he would usher in a "Kinder, gentler America." The only folks who loved Reagan were the American people, but this love was strong and unbroken over the decades.
Reagan over the last decade routinely tops the list of presidents in the "Most admired man" poll. Why? Reagan was the most conservative president in American history - Reagan's own favorite president, Coolidge, was the only other true conservative president in the last century, and America is an overwhelmingly conservative nation.
Bruce Walker is the author of book Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life and a contributing editor to Enter Stage Right.