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What does it take for a Republican president to effect real, lasting change? Was President Ronald Reagan a failure beyond the Cold War and the economy? Reagan had two overwhelming Electoral College victories. He did so by assembling a coalition of three different kinds of “conservatives:” religious (social), economic, and security. In the end, Reagan’s eight years in office were marked by big substantive policy benefits to the economic and national security wings, with minimal substantive benefits to religious/social conservatives.
Consider the policy area of education. Ronald Reagan ran in 1980 on reversing the brand new elevation of a Department of Education to cabinet level. He failed in this and failed in effecting any substantive reform of education, so failed to even slow the left’s mark through the institutions and seizure of mind share. President Reagan left us a legacy of ashes in education policy.