In today's sceney the-state-of-young-conservatism-today piece in the WaPo, there was no shortage of glowing praise for that eternal conservative flame: Ronald Reagan. Campus Progress recently examined the fixation groups like Young America's Foundation have with the old Gipper. What's aways incomprehensible to me is that when you compare the two conservative two-term presidents we've had, Bush and Reagan, Bush seems to be far to the right of Reagan. Bush exploded the deficit more, fought a real war in the name of democracy, actually legislated a chip on Roe v. Wade, and has done a better job of putting tow-the-line conservatives in high positions. So why is Bush so absent among the rosy speeches that young conservatives make?
Is it just that Bush is that unpopular, even among the youth? Possibly, but I think the real thing here is that we're witnessing is the fundamental problem with conservatism in practice. At the core of their ideology, conservatives believe that the best of life and politics was in the past. First, they tried to hark back to the 1950s and early '60s. Now, it's the '80s. I've no doubt Bush will be elevated to such a position, but his time has not yet come. He's too fresh. Soon enough, though, conservatives will begin to gloss over Bush's errors and hail him as the last man that truly fought for conservatism. Too bad he's not there yet; he could really use the ratings.