The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism

The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism

by Henry Olsen


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In this sure to be controversial book in the vein of The Forgotten Man, a political analyst argues that conservative icon Ronald Reagan was not an enemy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, but his true heir and the popular program’s ultimate savior.

Conventional political wisdom views the two most consequential presidents of the twentieth-century—FDR and Ronald Reagan—as ideological opposites. FDR is hailed as the champion of big-government progressivism manifested in the New Deal. Reagan is seen as the crusader for conservatism dedicated to small government and free markets. But Henry Olsen argues that this assumption is wrong.

In The Working Class Republican, Olsen contends that the historical record clearly shows that Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal itself were more conservative than either Democrats or Republicans believe, and that Ronald Reagan was more progressive than most contemporary Republicans understand. Olsen cuts through political mythology to set the record straight, revealing how Reagan—a longtime Democrat until FDR’s successors lost his vision in the 1960s—saw himself as FDR’s natural heir, carrying forward the basic promises of the New Deal: that every American deserves comfort, dignity, and respect provided they work to the best of their ability.

Olsen corrects faulty assumptions driving today’s politics. Conservative Republican political victories over the last thirty years have not been a rejection of the New Deal’s promises, he demonstrates, but rather a representation of the electorate’s desire for their success—which Americans see as fulfilling the vision of the nation’s founding. For the good of all citizens and the GOP, he implores Republicans to once again become a party of "FDR Conservatives"—to rediscover and support the basic elements of FDR (and Reagan’s) vision.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062475268
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/27/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 830,528
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Henry Olsen is an incisive political analyst and a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington, DC, think tank. He is a regular contributor to such leading publications as The National Review, The Weekly Standard, National Affairs, Commentary, The National Interest, The American Interest, and The Claremont Review of Books. He has also published op-eds and book reviews in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and The Washington Examiner.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 Reagan Enters, Stage Left 1

Chapter 2 Ronald Reagan, All-American 19

Chapter 3 "A Time for Choosing": A Star Is Born 53

Chapter 4 The Creative Society, Starring Ronald Reagan 71

Chapter 5 California Political Theater: Ronald Reagan Presents 99

Chapter 6 Reagan's "Death Valley Days" 129

Chapter 7 President Reagan 185

Chapter 8 The Time Is Now: Reagan 227

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 273

Index 313

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