what Mr. Reagan actually did, in thenapt words of an unsympathetic politicalncommentator, was to ofifend a large, perhapsncrucial, part of his own constituency.nFrom the outset in the Oval Office,nMr. Reagan has been surrounded by politicalnstrategists, consultants, pollsters,nand professional mavens who use computers,nproduce charts, map out tacticalnmoves, and pride themselves on beingnable to research, analyze, and programnany vector or tendency of public opinion.nThey rely on a technologized and systematizednvision of human affairs, which,nthey assume, can be thoroughly x-rayed,ndiagnosed, interpreted, and classified accordingnto methodologically categorizednissues. All that giant apparatus of introspectionnis supposed to go as deeply as isnpossible into the collective Americannmind, as well as into the souls of individualnvoters, and wrench from them whatnMr. Reagan’s advisers seem to see as thenessence of existence, the crux of man’s effortsnon this earth, the Golden Fleece forna politician’s success—namely votes, anlot of them, and all available at thenproper moment, that is, at the day ofnelection. In the process of dreamingnabout and yearning for votes, Mr.nReagan’s men tend to ignore somethingnthat may be more important to a statesmannand leader—namely, human feelings.nIn their zeal to get political mechanismsnmoving, they have lost the sense ofnwhat could be called an insult to the feelingsnof those who elevated Mr. Reagan tonthe Presidency in the first place.nOne can argue about what—in termsnof voters’ emotions—did put Mr.nReagan in the White House. Socioeconomicnvicissitudes and political climatesnunquestionably played an enormous rolenin producing the Reagan victory andnPresidency. But to my mind, the bottomnline was something less definable innterms of an electoral campaign, somethingnmore delicate than the voting actnitself, something more profoundly burrowednin the souls of the electorate,nsomething less penetrable by PR andnpolitical-marketing machinery. Thisnagent can be tentatively described as ansort of confused revulsion mixed with annirrepressible longing for a reality withnstable, comprehensible, sociomoralnnorms. I would say that it’s exactly thisningredient which gave Mr. Reagan thenPresidency, of which two years have beenndevoted to abandoning its cultivationnand substituting for it the promotionalngadgetry relished by the Republican Party’sndemi-intelligent hacks who professionallyn”know” what makes people votenin America of the 1980’s.nMany of those hacks even deemnthemselves conservatives and would feelnexasperated if told that they do notnunderstand the current meaning of thenword. Yet their country-club conservatismnis a feeble phantom: these days itnhas actually deteriorated to the level ofnsome specific corporate color blindnessnwhich predicates its infirmity and emasculation.nThe cognizance of grass-rootsnconcerns for larger-than-life justice, fairness,nand ethical order seems to havenvanished from both the vocabulary andnthe arsenal of “regular” (“moderate,”n”traditional,” “middle-of-the-road”)nRepublican operatives; their classunconsciousnessnhas acquired somenbizarre, if not grotesque, formulations.nTheirs is a conservatism of donors to bothnthe Republican Party andxht Ford Foundation’snprojects, to programs whosennnchief aims are to stave off a mythicalnsocial revolution that is nowhere in thenmaking, to suffuse this society withnspurious, hypocritical solicitudes, withncivil rights for behavioral anarchy, withnsocial conscience for abstractly contrivednneeds and alleged, melodramatizednwrongs. In that respect these “conservatives”nmeekly respond to the culture ofncheerfial, self-serving nihilism, the productnof which is colloquially called thenliberal establishment of the satiated andncynical upper classes—whose psychologicalnsatisfactions are derived fromn”causes” of a factitiously progressivenbent. It is this nihilistic “class-consciousness”nof moneyed searchers for “truths”nwhich has spawned cohabitation in Yalendorms, drug theology at Harvard andnBerkeley, the exciting bestiality of thenRolling Stones’ message (worth billionsnin stinking profits), and engendered thencult of subhumanness that is transmittednto masses by Playboy, Hustler, and HighnTimes. This cultural Armageddon is annihilatingnthe sense of civilizational securitynthat was once guaranteed by thennorms which the common folk still crave.nFor 20 years or more, Ronald Reagan promisednto fight this establishment and itsnfalse ideals tooth and nail. He created fornhimself the image of an incorruptible St.nGeorge who wouldn’t lay down hisnsword until the dragon was slain. Peoplencame to believe him; they pinned theirnlast hopes on him.nHe came to power, and, two yearsnlater, those whom he had proclaimed fornyears were his archenemies are nowncherished guests at White House dinnersnand celebrations. He is fawning upon thenmost ruthless notables of the WalternCronkite empire, the same ones he usednto characterize as America’s worstnpoisoners. He is entertaining procommunistnjet-set smarties and cringingnbefore corrupt disseminators of moralnand cultural toxins. Those who electednhim view this spectacle with revulsion. Indon’ t suppose they’ 11 cast their ballots fornhim next time, even if his opponent is nonbetter. Insults can be a more potentnpolitical emetic than disappointment.n,^—51nMarch 1983n