What Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to understand about Ronald Reagan

Published November 6, 2023

Washington Post

Ron DeSantis is telling Republican voters that “the 2024 election is a time for choosing.” Yet, the Florida governor has not asked them to make the only choice that matters: the one between him and former president Donald Trump.

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The phrase “a time for choosing” has a hallowed history. It was the name of a televised 1964 speech Ronald Reagan gave on behalf of Barry Goldwater, and it catapulted the future president to political stardom. Reagan thrilled millions by his clear delineation between the paths America could take: “There’s only an up or down: up to man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

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Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

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