If you just saw or met Ronald Reagan in lets say 1978 or so and had no idea who he was other than Governor of California and looking to run for President in 1980 and someone told you that Reagan was once not only a Democrat, but a Progressive Democrat who voted for both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman for President, you might think that you were seeing same-sex marriages being performed at the Southern Baptist Convention, or looking at Martians with four eyes or something. And I’ll give you one more thing that might send you into shock therapy because I’m an evil bastard. Ron Reagan was not only a supporter of organized labor in the 1940s and 50s, but he ran the actors guild in Hollywood.
There’s plenty of evidence that Ron Reagan wouldn’t fit in very well in the Republican Party today at least as a national candidate and leader. Who would still do very well in California and probably could rebuild the Republican Party by himself out there. But today’s GOP at least the hard right believes that it should still be 1930 and things like the Great Society and New Deal should’ve never of happened. And that organized labor or even having the right to decided if you should join a union or is Un-American if not immoral as well. But that was the type of Democrat that Reagan was up until 1960s or so. A Cold War Progressive Democrat who was concerned with working people. Who was against American elitism.
Reagan was an FDR/Truman Progressive Democrat. Not a left-wing far-lefty radical, but a mainstream Progressive who believed in things like national security, national defense, liberty is worth defending, the right to organize, protecting the working class and even civil rights. Which is why he did very well with working class Democrats in the 1960s and 70s in California and won working classic Democrats over when he ran for President in 1979-80, while also being able to win over white-collar Republicans because wanted to cut taxes and regulations. What other Republican could do that today and win over a coalition like that and even be able to win over Latin and African-Americans and even women? Don’t see another Republican like that right now.
Daniel J.B. Mitchell: Ronald Reagan Campaigns For President Harry Truman in 1948