VAL 1966 | Matthew Dalleks bok fokuserar författaren på ett område som andra författare tidigare ignorerat när det gäller Ronald Reagan.
Dallek konstaterar att t.o.m. Reagans officiella levnadstecknare, Edmund Morris, avverkar 1966 års guvernörsval i Kalifornien på ett par sidor.
Detta trots att valet var en av de viktiga vändpunkterna i USA:s historia. Reagans seger över sin demokratiska motståndare, guvernör Edmund ”Pat” Brown, blev början på vad som har kommit att kallas Reagans revolution.
Strategin som användes i valkampanjen – att koncentrera sig på ekonomi, lag och ordning och försvarsfrågor – var den samma som tog Reagan till Vita huset 1981.
Så här skriver Dallek om valets betydelse för den konservativa revolution som bar Reagans namn.
In truth the Reagan revolution began in 1966, and it was not primarily about economics or foreign policy. Reagan’s stunning, out-of-nowhere victory in the California governor’s race against two-term incumbent and Democratic giant Pat Brown marked the arrival of the Right in postwar American politics. Reagan’s leadership of that movement is perhaps his most enduring legacy.
Ronald Reagan’s race against Pat Brown — the real Reagan revolution — began as a debate about retaking control of a society in chaos. What Ronald Reagan stood for above all was law and order.
Reagan and Brown clashed on every issue, major and minor, of the day. Understanding the collapse of the liberal order and the rise of the conservative movement requires understanding how Reagan and Brown, during the several years leading up to 1966, came to embrace such bitterly opposed visions of government and society.
Reagan was a card-carrying conservative, Brown a proud liberal. For Reagan, opposing communism was paramount. For Brown, anticommunism was but one issue in foreign affairs and a nonissue at home. Reagan saw the welfare-state policies of recent decades as a slippery slope toward socialism. Brown viewed governmental programs as the best way to achieve a ”great society.” Reagan denounced moral decline on campus; Brown thanked God for the spectacle of students protesting. Brown seized an opportunity to lead the civil rights movement into the new frontier of fair housing; Reagan believed that even the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional. Faced with urban riots, Brown looked to government to help eradicate poverty; Reagan vowed zero tolerance for criminals.
It was Reagan’s promise to arrest moral decline that won him a million-vote victory over the popular incumbent, who had beaten Richard Nixon in 1962 and seemed destined to usher in California’s progressive future.
In 1966 these two titans faced off in a battle of worldviews. Law and order was the hinge on which an era turned, yet the particular strategies involved were crucial. For the first time, the conservative movement was able to distance itself from the anticommunist fringe. For the first time, the conservatives learned how to push the right buttons on key issues, from race and riots to war and crime. Reagan successfully linked the liberal social programs of the ’60s with disorder in the streets, and offered an alternative vision of what government should and should not do. The Reagan revolution would prove so lasting because the formulas developed in the heat of the moment — pro-social order, pro-individual liberty, anti-government meddling — had a lasting appeal. Americans, like most people, crave peace and prosperity. The Reagan revolution has come to be associated with the free market. Yet at its origins, and perhaps still today, it is equally about social order.
Bild: The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics av Matthew Dallek.