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The Bush Massacre of the Reaganites

Bush and Reagan

This week marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of the “massacre of the Reaganites” by newly elected President George H.W. Bush that effectively ended the prospect of institutionalizing Reaganism as the governing principle of the Republican Party and America.

We call it the “massacre of the Reaganites” because, in a well-thought-out and carefully crafted purge, on Inauguration Day 1989 practically every conservative who remained in government at the end of President Ronald Reagan’s second term, and certainly any conservative of any political consequence, was fired or forced to resign from their post in the federal government.

Even those who had worked tirelessly to elect George H.W. Bush President in the expectation that a Bush presidency would be effectively the “third term of Ronald Reagan” were dismissed.

Within hours of Bush’s inauguration establishment Republicans, such as James Baker III, who had opposed many of Reagan’s initiatives from within the administration, were promoted. But throughout the government Reagan’s conservative appointees, many of whom were loyal Republicans who had supported Bush, were forced to resign, were stripped of their duties, or were summarily fired by a new administration that wanted no part of the relatively few movement conservatives left in the government on the day Ronald Reagan departed Washington for California.

The few that were left were relegated to the dim reaches of various federal office building and given a few months to find another job or left on the payroll, but given no responsibilities in the new administration. Their in-boxes filled with only magazines and with nothing substantive to do they soon left.

While Bush partisans argued that the new president was justified in putting his own people in place, the 1989 “Inauguration Day Massacre” firings were more akin to political executions; lists of those to be “executed” were drawn up, and they were fired before sundown of the first day of the new Bush administration in a well-planned agenda to replace conservatives (be they Bush supporters or not) with establishment Republicans.

While most conservative critiques of George H.W. Bush tend to focus on “Read my lips,” and Bush’s abandonment of his pledge not to raise taxes, the result of the “Inauguration Day Massacre” firings were with no conservatives left to say “hey wait a minute,” Bush quickly walked away from conservative principles on a long list of policies and decisions.

• Bush reversed himself and imposed a temporary ban on semiautomatic rifles—so-called assault weapons—after first opposing the idea.

• He signed and advocated the Americans with Disabilities Act, creating a whole new realm of litigation nightmares for businesses large and small.

• He bailed out the troubled savings and loans banks.

• He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, making it easier for employees to sue employers.

• He bought into global warming by signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

• He created a “no net loss of wetlands” policy out of whole cloth, with little legislative authority, outraging farmers and landowners across the country.

• And, in what was perhaps his most lasting and damaging betrayal of conservatives, he appointed an obscure state judge, David Souter of New Hampshire, to the Supreme Court.

The “massacre of the Reaganites” should serve as a caution to conservatives who look at Jeb Bush and listen to his “right to rise” rhetoric and think “he sounds pretty good, how bad could a third Bush administration be?” During Reagan’s presidency conservatives frequently said, “Personnel is policy,” and Bush’s Inauguration Day massacre was a sure sign that he intended to abandon Reagan’s policies, and his principles.

Despite all of Bush’s rhetoric about “the transformative power of conservative ideas,” Jeb Bush is the “great white hope” of the Republican establishment.

No one else in America, save Hillary Clinton, starts the 2016 political season with a larger Rolodex of Washington insider supporters than does Jeb Bush. In addition to supporting all of their major policy goals from Common Core to amnesty for illegal aliens, a Bush candidacy will send millions of dollars in consulting business and lucrative lobbying contracts to a small, but powerful, coterie of Bush family supporters and acolytes.

We limited government constitutional conservatives must recognize up front that a successful Jeb Bush campaign would ensure that the Republican establishment stays in power for at least another decade, and it would also ensure that, no matter if Jeb or the Democrat wins, Big Government will continue to get bigger.


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Republican Establishment

We need a party to replace the GOP. There's no other way conservatives will hold sway --- and we are the majority of voters, one way or another.

Conservatives have tried to work within the GOP since Goldwater and have failed, being sunk from within. The Establishment tried, and failed, to sink Reagan in the primaries. However, since that time, they have ruled and have shown, as we saw in Mississippi, they will do whatever necessary to control what goes on in their party. And, they are just as pleased with a Democrat majority as they are with a Republican majority. It's time to go.

"Third parties always lose" is a lie. The GOP was born as a third party. "You'll split the vote". Well, who cares? You get a liberal either way.

There's nothing but ourselves standing in the way of the formation of true home for conservative voters. Let's get on with it.