Ronald Reagan is underrated

That is the theme of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

As I interpret the career of Reagan, he understood another point very well — and that concerns the scarcity of moral capital. Reagan knew there were real “bad guys,” and that it was up to leaders and elites to identify them and stand up to them, both rhetorically and diplomatically. Most of all, it was important to encourage the American public to internalize these same moral judgments. This may all sound corny and dated, but the pending conflict in Ukraine shows it to be an enduring truth.

The complementary Reagan vision was positive, optimistic and focused on what Americans can accomplish when working together. Americans are going to disagree on a lot of issues, he acknowledged, but they should maintain a relatively united front and save their real opprobrium for the truly destructive forces on the global scene.

Fast forward 40 years, and it seems that America has almost completely ignored these strictures. Many on the right seem most upset about the worst aspects of the left, and vice versa. Even when bad forces emerge in the international arena, Americans seem far more preoccupied by their fights with each other.

On Russia specifically, as recently as several months ago the current military escalation was hardly a topic of discussion among U.S. elites. When Mitt Romney tried to raise the danger of Russia in his 2012 presidential campaign, the point largely fell flat. Former President Barack Obama actually mocked him.

One of my biggest beefs about the status quo is that both the Trumpist Right and the Progressive Left are so willing to run down America’s moral capital in service of their pet partisan projects.


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