How the Right Went Wrong

Conservatives are gloomy. The Republican candidates are struggling. Can the party reclaim Reagan's legacy?

David Hume Kennerly; Tear by Tim O'Brien

Ronald Reagan

A generation ago, fresh off the second biggest electoral landslide in American history, Ronald Reagan surveyed the wreckage that had been the opposition and declared victory. Standing before 1,700 true believers at the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he proclaimed, "The tide of history is moving irresistibly in our direction. Why? Because the other side is virtually bankrupt of ideas. It has nothing more to say, nothing to add to the debate. It has spent its intellectual capital." At this year's conference two weeks ago, Reagan's name was invoked more than anyone else's. But the mood at the most...

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