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Conventional political wisdom views the two most consequential presidents of the 20th 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 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 30 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Corey Uhden on 09-27-17
The REAL Reagan and principles to live by
Olsen's historian approach breathes new life into the saga of Ronald Reagan, revealing that it is principle, not ideology, that drove him. All politics boils down to principles and it's easy to see why Reagan was so successful by wearing his love for the American people on his sleeve. All politicians would do well to follow his lead and remember that it is outcomes people want, not process, not ideological exercises. Principled politics led by principled leaders, not ideologues.
By RHH on 09-08-17
Great Book, different and detailed look at the Gipper
Great book. Very detailed research that informed the central theme. Lots of great quotes from Reagan's early years. A different perspective on President Reagan and the Republican Party. Would highly recommend to anyone interested in politics.