Just to clarify, I don’t question your data at all. I just feel that you’re pushing boomers on the whole too far to the right.

Reagan was undoubtedly a “small government” guy, as were the boomers who supported him. But the federal government grew under his watch, and not just because of military spending. He ratcheted up the drug war — a bad idea, to be sure, but one that had support on both sides. He expanded Medicaid. He raised taxes more than a half-dozen times. He did quite a few things to expand the size and scope of government. And boomers responded by reelecting him in ’84 and then electing another Republican in ’88.

All I’m suggesting is that boomers aren’t the “destroyers” you’re making them out to be. Some of them are, of course, but I would contend that many of them simply believed that a private sector unencumbered by government would produce unprecedented wealth and prosperity, which in turn would do more to improve the quality of life in America than anything the government could do — you know, the “trickle down” of wealth and all that jazz.

And that’s what I mean when I talk about “shifting responsibilities.” Put the private sector in charge of making Americans more prosperous and comfortable, and it’ll do a better job than government could ever hope to do. People will make more money and have more disposable income, charities will get more donations, more people will have health care, and so on and so forth. That is (or was) the mindset of the average boomer, in my opinion. I don’t believe they simply wanted to lay waste to government services and programs and leave poor folks hanging out to dry. And I think that becomes even more clear when you look more closely at the other presidential candidates they supported and some of the proposals those candidates advocated for.

Having said all that, I disagree with many of Reagan’s policies and decisions, though I do think he got some things right. And Grover Norquist is really just Uncle Rich Pennybags in the flesh, so I have no interest in defending him.

I have a problem with the populism that masquerades as reasonable politics that says there is this thing called an “establishment politician” who is evil and both sides are the same. “Establishment politician” is mostly an empty slogan.

Fair point on the “establishment politician” phrase. I rolled with it in my piece because its meaning is widely understood, but I’ll admit that it’s maybe an excessively cynical label. You have a lot of minds to change on that one before the phrase fades from use, though.

However, I do not feel that both sides are the same, either in terms of responsibility or ideology. I want to make that perfectly clear. Do I feel that both sides deserve some share of the blame for the lack of progress on specific issues? Yes, I absolutely do. However, the amount of blame that each side gets ought to depend on how much each side actually deserves. I’m not in the habit of assigning blame in equal proportions just for the sake of it. On some issues, I personally blame the GOP more. On others, the Democrats. There are perhaps a handful of issues where I might go 50/50. The drug issue might be one, but I’d have to spend some time thinking about that.

On that note, I do need to get ready to go into the office in a few minutes, but a couple last points before I do:

  1. No argument from me on the specific immigration bills you cited. The failures of those two bills fall on the GOP’s shoulders. When I spoke of immigration, though, I was going back even further than that, back when McCain and Kennedy were leading the charge for reform during the Bush years. I vividly remember how a lot of folks on both sides of the debate were unwilling to make virtually any (meaningful) concessions at all. Or they’d go on some talk show and say that they’re open to doing X, only to refrain from discussing X ever again because, in reality, they had no interest in making that concession in the first place. Over the last twenty years or so, there has been a lot of stalling and doublespeak on immigration — much of it on the right, but a decent amount from some on the left as well, IMO.
  2. Not a fan of the Hastert rule, so no argument from me on that one, either. It’s a stupid rule and a terrible way to manage the affairs of the House, I feel.

Anyways, I have to take off. I’m happy to concede the last word to you if you’d like it and will most certainly read your reply when I’m back online. Have a good night, and thanks again for the discussion!

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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