I think that the conservative base of the Republican party, the ones who are so worked up over John McCain’s frontrunner status, is going to have to come to grips with an ugly truth: Ronald Reagan was a historical anomaly, a once-in-a-lifetime fluke–a master politician who wanted to reduce the power of politicians.
You very rarely see someone who spends his life working in government who also thinks that less government is a good idea. It’s like a Starbuck’s board member saying, “Hey, let’s shut a few of those franchises down. They’re freaking everywhere.” Conservatives keep waiting for someone to pick up the Reagan mantle, not realizing how truly unique he was.
As much as conservatives admire him, and as great as his legacy is, he wasn’t the vanguard of a new brand of Republican. When he left the scene, the Republican party went right back to churning out big government, go-along-to-get-along hacks.
Over the last 40 years, it’s been Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and now McCain, Huckabee, and Romney. What does that tell you about the Republican party? To know what kind of politician to expect from them, don’t look at the outlier, look at the pattern. If you spend your life expecting a revolutionary every election cycle, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.