Is Barack Obama the Democratic version of Ronald Reagan? That blog post yesterday got plenty of reader responses. Different people answered that question in different ways. Let me sum up:
Liberals: Yes, Obama is the next Reagan, the Great Communicator of the Left. More accurately, he's the anti-Reagan who, along with an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, will begin to undo the so-called Reagan Revolution, smash the Republican rump minority, and transform America by raising taxes on the rich and actively using the federal government to help average people. ¡Viva la Revolución!
Moderates: Yes, Obama is the next Reagan. His sense of optimism and his call for unity will help heal a bitterly divided America. As president, Obama will "reach across the aisle" to fashion bipartisan compromises on chronic problems like healthcare and Social Security. As a result, many of our children will someday be attending Barack Obama middle schools across this nation.
Conservatives: Please. Obama is actually Jimmy Carter, a guy elected president by a dispirited country who is then unable to deliver on his promises of "healing." After a catastrophic four years of higher taxes and more government—who knew "unity" cost so much?—and more division, America will turn to Bobby Jindal/David Petraeus/John Roberts/Mark Sanford/Sarah Palin for true leadership.
My take: Right now, Obama is still whatever people want him to be, at least if you go by the reader responses I received. To be the next Reagan or FDR — a transformational political figure — a President Obama will need to implement sweeping policy changes. (We're talking about domestic policy here. I think foreign policy is a whole different breed of cat.) And those changes, I would think, must ultimately reflect the core values and desires of the American people. Obama's transformation, if you go by his campaign so far, would mean higher income taxes, higher Social Security taxes, higher investment taxes, higher corporate taxes, massive new domestic spending, and a healthcare plan that perhaps could be the next step to a full-scale, single-payer system. Is that what most Americans want, someone who will fulfill a Democratic policy wish list? Or do they want Obama to be someone who pushes for compromise, centrist solutions? From the feedback I got, the answer is "both." I am not sure Obama knows. He has the next 264 days to figure it out.