The Republican approach was not fully played out politically after 2008 because the depth of the country’s economic troubles kept discontent high and helped the GOP to its 2010 midterm victory. But in 2012, voters had the choice of confirming their 2008 decision to move toward the center-left, or ratifying 2010’s verdict on behalf of the right. They chose Obama and the new progressive course.
Republicans in Congress now, like Democrats in the Reagan years, are coming to terms with a country that wants to move in a new direction. Like Tip O’Neill, Speaker John Boehner is having trouble holding his troops together.
Reagan forced Democrats to realize they wouldn’t keep winning simply by invoking FDR’s legacy. Paradoxically, in following Reagan’s political lead, Obama is setting out to prove that the Reagan era is finally over.