Today's GOP: Why Reagan Would Cringe
Gipper didn't hate government; he wanted it to work
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2009 12:38 PM CST
In this Jan. 4, 1984 file photo, President Ronald Reagan, and Democratic presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson, gesture shortly after a White House ceremony honoring Navy Lt. Robert O. Goodman.   (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz, File)
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(Newser) – Republicans love to invoke Reagan, but if he’s watching right now, the Gipper is probably “smacking himself on the forehead, rolling his eyes and wondering who in the world these clowns are,” speculates former GOP Congressman (and longtime Reagan backer) Mickey Edwards in the LA Times. Today’s would-be Reaganites believe all government “is the problem,” and that small government is inherently better than big. “This is all errant nonsense,” writes Edwards, “wrong in every conceivable way.”

“In America, government is us,” Edwards reasons. What matters isn’t the size of government, but the limits of its powers. Bush Republicans obviously don’t get this, but Reagan did. In his famous inaugural, he said that “in the present crisis…government is the problem.” But he went on to say, “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work.” A sentiment echoed by Obama in his address.