On a drizzly evening in Zuccotti Park this week, where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are camped out with the modern revolutionary’s gear of iPhone, blue tarp and cappuccino, I spotted one young man wearing a T-shirt with an image of Ronald Reagan and the words “Bad Religion.”
It was the right outfit for the occasion. That’s because the greatest significance of the wave of leftist demonstrations that started in Lower Manhattan and rippled across the United States over the past few weeks is the potential challenge it poses to the Reagan Revolution.
During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama drew shrieks from the Democratic base, particularly its Clinton wing, by naming Ron rather than Bill as a president who had “changed the trajectory of America.”
But Obama was right. We are all living in a world shaped by Reagan and his ideology of small “l” liberalism.
Three decades later, the triumph of Reaganism is remarkable. In the United States and Britain taxes shrank, regulation, especially of the financial sector, was pruned back, and state companies were sold off. Even Brussels was nudged toward liberalization.