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Francis Wilkinson

Republicans Still Believe It's 'Makers' Versus 'Takers'

Oft-quoted sages of yore did not warn that greedy voters would doom democracy. Reagan did, and so does today's GOP.
He got at least one thing wrong.

He got at least one thing wrong.

Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images

In 1965, not long after his assertion that adopting Medicare would mark the death of freedom, Ronald Reagan, that great sunny-side optimist of the American right, explained the apocalyptic, anti-democratic impulse that animated the far right of his day, and which now permeates the Republican Party.

Reagan's remark was not an aberration; he repeated versions of it on other occasions. Nor did Reagan claim the paragraph's vision as his own. He was quoting another man, or so he thought. Reagan misattributed the commentary to an 18th-century Scottish lord, Alexander Fraser Tytler, who apparently didn't much fancy the American Revolution.