The Party That Reagan Built

A paragraph from William Schneider's 1987 article about Reagan's impact on American politics:

What keeps the Reagan coalition together is not affection or agreement but the perception of a common threat. The threat is that liberals will regain control of the federal government and use it, as they have in the past, to carry out their "redistributionist" or "reformist" or "anti-military" program. The threat will not disappear when Reagan leaves office, and neither will the Reagan coalition--not even if it loses the 1988 election. A coalition may be defeated, as Reagan's was in the 1986 Senate elections, but that does not mean it has been destroyed. In the short run the Republicans are likely to lose many elections, just as the Democrats did over the fifty-year history of their New Deal coalition. The short-term fate of the Republican Party is highly dependent on the condition of the economy. That is what brought the party to power in 1980 and kept it in power in 1984. A major recession would spell the end of Republican rule. But the Reagan coalition would dissolve only if the various groups that compose it no longer felt they had a common interest in limited government. The Republicans are now the party of a weak government and a strong state, attracting people who are committed to one or both objectives. The Reagan revolution, not just Reagan himself, has acquired a popular constituency.