Ronald Reagan’s Journey: Democrat to Republican
Stacy McCain interviews Ed Yager, author of a new book Ronald Reagan’s Journey: Democrat to Republican.
A key exchange:
Q. Why is Ronald Reagan’s early identification as a Democrat important to understanding his political career?
A. Because over about a 17-year period, from 1945 to 1962, he struggled to make sense of the political world. And he learned from his personal experiences there in Hollywood. He also learned from his personal experiences while on tour [as a spokesman for] General Electric, and he consistently discussed and debated political philosophy and policy issues with friends and family. And he also learned from a variety of books and magazines. …
So he was an engaged citizen, trying to make sense of the political world during the postwar period. Through these different sources … he developed his own political philosophy of having a hard-line position toward the Soviet Union in particular and international communism in general. His domestic policy views, those evolved later, during the mid- to late-1950s.
His political development was over a long period of time. It was gradual and sequential. … So that by 1962, when he changed his party affiliation, he had a coherent political philosophy that would guide him throughout his political career.
There’s more in the interview and, I’m sure, the book. But the fact that Ronald Reagan actively struggled with his political ideals and spent years thinking, writing, and talking about them explains why he was so capable of articulating and carrying out his vision. And the lack of same likely explains why so few contemporary American politicians can.