Ethics & Public Policy Center

VIDEO: Henry Olsen Discusses The Working Class Republican at AEI



American Enterprise Institute


On June 27, 2017, EPPC Senior Fellow Henry Olsen appeared at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute about his new book The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism. Below is AEI’s summary of the event:

Tuesday at AEI, Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center discussed his new book, “The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism” (Broadside Books, June 2017), examining how Reagan appealed to working-class Americans and what Republicans today should learn from his approach. Mr. Olsen stated that Reagan was not an anti–New Deal conservative; he was for government that would help people have a hand up, not a hand out.

Craig Shirley, author of “Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976–1980” (Broadside Books, March 2017), offered a different interpretation, asserting that Reagan was a libertarian and did not support the New Deal.

Then the Brookings Institution’s William Galston moderated a discussion on the future of the Republican party, including challenges Republicans face and what they can learn from Reagan. AEI’s Jonah Goldberg emphasized that Republicans must shed the “cult of Reagan” and their obsession with purity and principles and should instead emulate Reagan’s successful use of persuasion and willingness to embrace innovative policies. The Center for American Progress’ Ruy Teixeira said part of the challenge is getting Republican politicians to acknowledge that they have a problem and that trying to shrink government by taking things away from people will not appeal to the working class.

— Eleanor O’Neil

Click here for more information about the event at AEI’s website.

Click here or click below for video of the event, and click here for an audio podcast of the conversation.

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