September 6th, 2012
12:13 PM ET

The heirs of Reagan's optimism

By Fareed Zakaria

In the '70s and '80s, to many Americans the Democratic Party seemed more concerned with America's shortcomings than its strengths. Many of its leaders criticized the country relentlessly for its behavior at home and abroad, for its inequities and injustices. The Democrats, Jeane Kirkpatrick said at the Republican Convention in 1984, "always blame America first."

Today it is the Republican Party that often seems angry with America. Read the best-selling books by conservatives these days, watch Fox News or attend a Tea Party rally. They are filled with rage, often combined with a powerful nostalgia for an America that has gone away.

Reagan was said to be three parts optimism and one part nostalgia. Recently, that formula has been inverted. In 1996, Bob Dole gave an astonishing convention speech that attacked those who believed the U.S. had improved over the past decades. "I say you're wrong. And I know because I was there. And I have seen it. And I remember," said Dole. So much for progress on civil rights, women's rights or even toward a more open and meritocratic economy and society.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Patrick

    Being realistic here, there isn't a great deal to be optimistic about these days. The M.I.C. is more entrenched than ever as it owns more and more of our politicians. Furthermore, it isn't likely that we'll ever reach our former level of prosperity as we did during the 1990's. This year's election will not yield fruitful results, no matter who gets elected.

    September 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      The only optimism I feel is that the PMS guy who keeps stealing my name will have an aneurism.
      Apart from that I feel quite happy the way things are.
      Muslims are killing muslims; therefore, all is well in the world.

      September 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Reply
      • Patrick

        I bet that Joseph is going to feel awfully good about you're usurping his name in order to vomit all that Tea party nonsense thereunder, Phunnie boy! You know that what you posted above isn't true at all, unless you're a complete idiot! Somehow I don't think you are, just a another programmed right-wing Tea Partier!

        September 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
      • JosephMcCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007©™/JoeCollins/J.FosterDulles/Marine5484/OldManClark/ Willie12345/KillerO'Bama/Patrick-2/USMCForever

        You are the same guy, moron!

        September 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  2. JosephMcCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007©™/JoeCollins/J.FosterDulles/Marine5484/OldManClark/Willie12345/KillerO'Bama/Patrick-2/USMCForever

    I am the same guy. I am a useless piece of camel dung who works at the moron stage. I post anti-American, anti GB, anti-Semite, anti-India, anti-modern anything because I am a good Moslem from Pakistan. I have stolen Patrick’s moniker because I am so ashamed of myself and I post the most stupid comments because I am an imbecile. Mohammed the pedophile has taught me well. When people get angry with me, I claim they are the stupid ones. If I am not careful, my brain will explode because it is so full of hate and puss.

    September 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      Well stated, Phunnie boy!

      September 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Reply
      • JosephMcCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007©™/JoeCollins/J.FosterDulles/Marine5484/OldManClark/ Willie12345/KillerO'Bama/Patrick-2/USMCForever

        Well stated Abdul.
        Hang on to your lies, Shatan is waiting for you.

        September 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  3. 100 %ETHIO

    I am not sure about the pros/cons, since I wasn't around during Ronald Reagan's Presidency.
    However, I know him by reading books,....

    The Two of a kind Reagan's Era:

    1) Fake Reagan;
    His Movies has been shown in Africa, as Actor, he got his Presidency by Militarily struggle and overthrowing his predecessor.
    The Two Hours long Movie showes, Reagan's overcoat buttons as Bombs. He splits the button and he threw it to caused explosion. These were what the Intelligence Agents were doing against young Africans' bad Min-Sets. And Civil war was the consequences.

    Soon after the above Movie released, the former Libyan leader Qaddafi, released a fake Movie Four Hours long. Qaddafi as a Movie Actor, he tied up Reagan against the Trees and start torched him. The Movie has been shown all over Arab Countries.
    Then, Muslims started rising against America.

    2) The Real Reagan:

    • When every American divided Countries around Africa, Europe, M East and Asia; President Reagan, with his famous popularity, he used his power and RE-UNITED the Two Germanies as ONE-GERMANY.

    Former President Reagan, during his election time, he meant what he promised, more than 89%.
    Comparing President Obama who didn't fulfilled what he promised: such as;
    1) didn't turn the economy around,
    Proof- $16 Trillions Debt. More than 5Million Americans doesn't have a job.
    2) he didn't fulfilled his Liberal cause. His former Teacher at Harvard Law School Professor Roberto Unger said, "Obama...has failed to advanced the progressive cause. He has spent Trillion Dollars to rescue the interests and left behind workers and homeowners to their own devices".

    3) he is pro-Black Slave Descendants supporter and against other minorities, like Ehio-Americans. During Obama's Presidency, many Ethiopians in America, Canada, Middle-East has been subjected into illful treatments, including murders. Who is Barack Obama?

    Back in the challenged time, the great hero President Abraham Lincoln said, "You may fool all of the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time."

    And I said, let my Family Slave govern me, till the bad time pass.
    Incompetence, got affirmative action.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      It wasn't Ronald Reagan who united Germany in 1989, it was first East German Chancellor Eric Honiker who decided to step down and those who took over decided to hand East Germany over to the Western half on Oct.3, 1990. Furthermore, Ronald Reagan had absolutely nothing to do with democracy coming to Poland. That was accomplished by Wojcek Jaruzelski in 1990. Now I suppose this idiot Tea Partier Phunnie boy is going to try to discredit me and what I just said here, Just ignore him when he does!

      September 7, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
      • Patrick

        Anytime you read "Tea Partier" and "Phunnie" (sic) under my name, you know that the PMS guy has stolen my name to post ignorant, stupid comments. I beat him up every time he does and being a follower of the cult of masochism discovered by the Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, he simply cannot help himself. I guess his mommy puts him in the corner and takes away his computer every once in a while, but then he comes back for more drooling for more insults. He is just pitiful.

        September 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  4. Hahahahahahahaha

    Reagan put the CON in CONservative!!! Hahahahahahahahaha

    September 7, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
    • Quigley

      That he did Hahahahahahahaha, that he did bigtime!

      September 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Mitt Romney looks to Reagan for inspiration: anti-Russia rhetoric and military spending. Reagan's supporters credited Reagan's anti-Soviet rhetoric and increased defence spending as a key factor in bringing the Cold War to an end, because it forced the USSR to recognise it could not compete with the American-led capitalist west.

    September 8, 2012 at 5:46 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Paul Ryan wants to be compared to the patron saint of American conservatism – Ronald Reagan. Yet many believe he is less than he's seen – courageous and serious – and call him a hypocrite.

    September 8, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply
  7. Muin

    LOL. Start learning spanish. You will have two options when you order at a restaurant since you like this so much.

    September 9, 2012 at 7:40 am | Reply
  8. Patty Goldman

    I don't think the Democratic or Republican party leaders are negative or positive about America. All they want to do iswin the next election on all levels-local,county,state,federal.Since we are not included in any discussions involving our tax money or where it is spent, we have no idea what our pretend leaders talk about with other pretend leaders from other countries we're left with listening or reading to news from reporters who for the most part have an agenda. I don't know where all the news stories originate but iwe probably wouldn't like it if we knew. It's our country,it's our money,it's our right to question all the pretend politicians and pretend reporters who seem more and more distant .

    September 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Reply

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