Reagan arrived with an entourage of economists who said that big government and government spending was inefficient, wasteful, and did damage conditions that it purported it would cure. None made a moral case in economics, that a man had a right to his or her own earnings. The Reagan revolution simply pointed out that the left had been wrong.
But this far, and no further. While Reagan had huge success, many on the right took a pass on repealing the welfare state that Wilson, Roosevelt, and Johnson built. They could show its inefficiencies, but would not affirm the property rights and the moral right, of those who had to pay for it through force and threat of force.
Post Reagan, real intellectual foundations were built at think tanks watchdogging the welfare state, and Americans watched post-Reagan Republicans, and Carter Republicans, wheel and deal with the left as if property rights was an old fading establishment not expected to survive, but worth fighting a losing piecemeal battle over. As if the confiscation of wealth was morally acceptable, while proven to be a practical farce.
The question on the right must then be today, since the case for free markets has been made on a practical level, why is America slipping toward the Euro-model? Because the moral argument has been surrendered. But just a cursory view of tea party “signage” has shown that moral argument, has begun to be taken up. For tea party patriots to be successful in the long-range, the Reagan/Gingrich model of accepting the lefts moral premise’ on economics, before fighting them on the details- must end. Mankind is not ‘his brothers keeper’.