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The retconning of the President

amadeus

burning out his fuse out here alone
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Democrats today will sometimes fondly refer to Reagan or George Bush (either one) though they fought him tooth-and-nail in Congress while he was in office. Republicans, same thing with Bill Clinton, or JFK, or even FDR.

So what do you think, is this part of a political calculus at trying to build cross-party support for a platform, or do we as people generally tend to soften our criticisms of past leadership?

I know that I certainly look back at former presidents with a somewhat softer lens than when they were in office. I think part of it is that the issues we see as important today become often enough irrelevant, and our continuity of existence and even if mild prosperity shows that we entrusted them at least enough not to break everything.
 
Mostly they're out of power sibyou don't need to try and drive down their pilling/support.
 
fighting reagan is very politically unfeasible in the current climate. he's very loved by the middle. of course that needs to change, but i don't see the appeals to him as anything but that, recognizing that he's, sadly, still very popular.
 
fighting reagan is very politically unfeasible in the current climate. he's very loved by the middle. of course that needs to change, but i don't see the appeals to him as anything but that, recognizing that he's, sadly, still very popular.

Although an American of average age today was 5 when Reagan was last in office. The youngest person who last voted for Reagan is now 56. By some napkin math, about 8% of the current US population voted for Reagan.
 
Long ago I read some article or blog post with a sarcastic opening sentence like "The Only Good Republican is a Dead One"...The point being that Democrats often looked back at long-gone opponents like Reagan and Barry Goldwater more fondly. I don't know whether that's always true or not. But I think when a political opponent is gone, people understand the sum total of their life and are able to understand their positions a bit better, than otherwise seeing them as merely antagonistic to their own.
I.e. hindsight is always 20/20.

Who knows...I'm sure in 1 or 2 decades people will look back at George Bush as someone who was unfairly handed the 9/11/01 attacks which most likely would have happened to Al Gore too. But "stolen election" and "Iraq war 'lies'" still leaves too much of a bitter taste in many, many mouths...
Just as I imagine Truman "let" the Russians get The Bomb and "let" the commies take over China, despite his pretty hard-line stances quite early in the Cold War that al future presidents then took for granted.
 
Although an American of average age today was 5 when Reagan was last in office. The youngest person who last voted for Reagan is now 56. By some napkin math, about 8% of the current US population voted for Reagan.
yes, but he's still romanticized; whether sympathetically or not, he's become larger-than-life. don't want to eliminate grey votes as a moderate, specifically by talking down a president who has, for better or worse, been made quite the historical figure in the public consciousness. what's there to gain from publicly criticizing eg some bad eisenhower policy specifically talking about eisenhower as a poor politician? it's eisenhower. are you opposed to the us fighting nazis? stuff like this is tied into historical spirit and becomes complicated. regardless of practicality.

personally i'd prefer a more thorough reflection on him than the legitimate thinkpieces and distancing that's been happening, but his/thatcer's era cemented neoliberalism. restructuring national identity is very hard to do.

like, even "moderates" today affiliate with the guy. he's a nucleus of defending fiscal conservatism online. that his generation is now a minority in the polls doesn't take away his statue quality. it's goddamn reagan!
 
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yes, but he's still romanticized; whether sympathetically or not, he's become larger-than-life. don't want to eliminate grey votes as a moderate, specifically by talking down a president who has, for better or worse, been made quite the historical figure in the public consciousness. what's there to gain from publicly criticizing eg some bad eisenhower policy specifically talking about eisenhower as a poor politician? it's eisenhower. are you opposed to the us fighting nazis? stuff like this is tied into historical spirit and becomes complicated. regardless of practicality.

personally i'd prefer a more thorough reflection on him than the legitimate thinkpieces and distancing that's been happening, but his/thatcer's era cemented neoliberalism. restructuring national identity is very hard to do.

like, even "moderates" today affiliate with the guy. he's a nucleus of defending fiscal conservatism online. that his generation is now a minority in the polls doesn't take away his statue quality. it's goddamn reagan!


Reagan was just that far to the left of where the Republican core is today.
 
A lot of it is an institutional response to Trump, but most of it is that for decades and decades of polls now there’s evidence that American’s grow more fond of presidents after they leave no matter how disliked they were while in power. It’s just a nostalgia effect (like how people talk about music from “their day” being better).
 
Gwb still a war criminal. Then again so is just about every other president.

I miss Al Gore. He should run in 2024
 
Thankfully I find it easier to remember good things than bad. Maybe this is the same for others.

If I spent all my time dwelling on the crimes of the past, I would be very unhappy indeed.
 
Thankfully I find it easier to remember good things than bad. Maybe this is the same for others.

If I spent all my time dwelling on the crimes of the past, I would be very unhappy indeed.
it is very tiring

Reagan was just that far to the left of where the Republican core is today.
y'know, now that you put it that way... holy cow, you may be right.
 
I don't hear or see a lot of nostalgia about Reagan or really, any of the others. The GOP talks about being the party of Reagan but there is little congruence between the policies of Reagan and the two Bushes and the grotesque collection of fascists and fundamentalists that is the current Republican Party.

I do think there is a softening of views once a president leaves office. Perhaps it's recognition of how hard the job is on the occupant of the Oval office.
 
I don't remember any of that being true at all. There is no real fondess for either of those presidents from the opposite end.
What does exist, is certain standard being upheld. E.g. democrats and republicans may have disagreed with one another politically in the 80s or early 90s, but there wasn't nearly as much vitriol as there is now. Something that changed mostly thanks to Newt Ginrich, who introduced the us versus them mentality in congress. Ever since the Republicans have slipped further and further away from decency. So yes, people might prefer to look back at a time where a certain politicial party didn't go with "up is down" as political guideline. You are supposed to judge the content of something, not be against something just because the other side is supporting it.

That being said, people remembering the good things from the past while ignoring the bad stuff is something that has been true for ages. You can even see it with many of the supposedly big "issues" of this day. Look at cancel culture. Some people like to pretend that you used to be able to say anything you want, and there would be no outrage over it. That is complete nonsense. People freaked out over "Nipplegate", and that was right in the oh so great time where every joke could be told. The 50s and 60s saw tv-channels only show Elvis from the waist and up because his movements were deemed too sexual, but sure you were much more "free" back then. Gay people better kept their mouths shut or they would face a backlash and / or insults, something that isn't entirely gone by this day, but sure, people could say anything. What these people truly mean is this: they hold certain positions, and back in the days no one criticised them for their disgusting behaviour. But now more and more people find them and their stances revolting, and they cannot stand the fact that this is the case.
 
I don't hear or see a lot of nostalgia about Reagan or really, any of the others. The GOP talks about being the party of Reagan but there is little congruence between the policies of Reagan and the two Bushes and the grotesque collection of fascists and fundamentalists that is the current Republican Party.

Well, there’s no ideological consistency to the GOP and hasn’t been really ever. Citing Reagan is just a branding/vibes thing. Whether or not they agree with his political vision is immaterial. Just like how republicans say they’re against taxes but they really only are against them for the wealthy. Or say they like small government but routinely overrule small liberal governments.

Reagan laughing about people dying from AIDS is the modern GOP though, and so in that regard they both agree. Obviously that’s not a political plank in the traditional sense, but cruelty has always been a conservative bedrock. Reagan and Bush and Trump would all agree on that (cruelty/racism/etc) being a worthwhile and important political pursuit.
 
There's always going to be a bit of nostalgia bias for past leaders, but I feel that phenomena is not as strong as it once was. Increased hyper-partisanship has softened the phenomena so you usually on see fairly modest gains in favorability after one leaves office.
 
Biden is more likely to behave himself as long as he has his nap, whereas Trump is the kind of elder you need to keep an eye on so they don't wander off into traffic.
 
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