Last night Farmer and I were guests on a webcast (see here for April 7th archive). The issue of the Republican Party's relationship to conservatism came up when I challenged the assumption that the Republican party is the natural home of conservatism: citing Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford, men who were not ideological conservatives in the sense of the Conservative Movement (that term itself a topic of conversation).

Farmer replied that since Reagan, the Republican party should be the home of Conservatives, but that the Party had gone off the rails.

I would like to continue the discussion.

Did Ronald Reagan really transform the Republican Party into the Amerian Conservative Party?

I don't think so.

Exhibit A: George H. W. Bush. Although a loyal Vice-President to Reagan, will anyone argue that Bush 41 is now or ever has been a genuine Reagan Conservative? Yet he became the Republican standard bearer in '88 and the forty-first president.

Exhibit B: George W. Bush. Although conservative in many ways, will anyone argue that his Compassionate Conservatism is the same as Reagan Conservatism? Would Reagan have put forward the Prescription Drug Plan? Yet GWB was twice the Republican Standard Bearer and the forty-third president.

Exhibit C: The Republicans in the U.S. Senate from 1980 until now. Are these all Reagan Conservatives? No, though most are conservative in some ways.

It seems to me that the Republican Party was not remade by Reagan into a homogenous, cohesive, party supporting Reaganism.

Italy and Israel have numerous political parties each relatively pure ideologically. In order to form a government, several parties must agree to form a coalition. By contrast, in the United States, with our Two-Party System as it has evolved, both parties are of necessity made up of internal coalitions agreeing to cohere for political success. Reaganism dominated for a time, but it did not completely transform the other Republican Party coalition members.