Reagan’s Political Heir

George W. Bush, Values, and the War on Terror
  • John Kenneth White


In many respects, George W. Bush bears more of a political resemblance to Ronald Reagan than he does to his own father. And to win reelection in 2004, President Bush leaned on the grand coalition Reagan formed nearly twenty-five years ago. Back in 1979, the Reagan coalition was emerging as a powerful and potent force. Signs of its birth were already apparent in the 1978 midterm elections when Republicans added sixteen seats in the House and three in the Senate. Jimmy Carter—a Democrat who had been elected president in 1976 thanks to the Watergate scandal—was proving to be an ineffectual leader. While Carter had not lost his capacity for truth-telling, Americans wanted something more. In 1978, 70 percent believed “the government cannot be regularly trusted to do what is right”; 74 percent said “government is run for a few big interests”; and 79 percent thought “government wastes a lot of tax dollars.”1 Republicans took advantage of this hostility by advocating the “Kemp—Roth” tax plan—a massive cut in federal taxes they claimed would add revenues to the federal coffers. Republicans were thinking anew and, in Abraham Lincoln’s phrase, were “disenthralling themselves” from their long-standing balance-the-budget dogma. Supply-side economics was becoming an important chapter in the new Republican gospel.


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Copyright information

© Kevin J. McMahon, David M. Rankin, Donald W. Beachler, and John Kenneth White 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kenneth White

There are no affiliations available

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