(CNSNews.com) - - The conservative era that began with Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1980 is dead, according to a liberal advocacy group. At a press conference last week in the nation's capital, the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) drew parallels between the Carter-Reagan years and the current election year.
Leaders of the conservative movement, however, dismissed the idea that their movement is over.
In reference to today's economy, "the recession is similar to the kind of economic chaos we had in '79," said CAF Co-Director Robert Borosage. "The failures abroad are similar to the frustrations [President Jimmy] Carter had with Americans held hostage. The public gets this."
Stan Greenberg with the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research said in recent years conservatives have pushed policies that have caused the public to turn against them and seek other, radical solutions.
"Conservatives have sullied the government and made a mess of it at all levels," said Greenberg. "The country now believes the first place to begin the change is government. It's hard to understate the degree of tumult and the desire for change. There is just so much happening. I think the idea of looking at 1980 as a comparison is the right approach."
But David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union, told Cybercast News Service that CAF's analysis of the current political climate is wishful thinking.
"This must have been thought up by young people who were not around in 1980," said Keene. "We saw economic problems then that we haven't seen in modern times regardless of the state of the economy. It's wishful thinking on their part."
"Based on history, based on the fact we are in a war, based on the economy, based on the president's popularity, this should be a Democratic year," he said. "In the match-ups between the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee, the Democratic candidates should be way ahead, but they are not.
"If I were running a campaign for the Democratic nominee, I would find those numbers to be troubling,'" Keene added.
Borosage, however, said the opportunity for great change in 2008 exists despite troubles in the Democratic Party. "In spite of the train wreck which is becoming the Democratic nomination, this election has the opportunity and the conditions present not to simply be a change election, but to be a sea change election," he said. "Think not to 1992 but to 1980."
Ralph Reed, a political strategist and founder of the Christian Coalition, told Cybercast News Service that CAF's and Greenberg's numbers are not based in reality.
"I think that's wishful thinking on the part of Democratic strategists," Reed said. "This is not the first time they have prematurely written our obituary. In 1992, when George H.W. Bush was defeated by Clinton by the largest margin of an incumbent president since Herbert Hoover, they wrote our obituary.
"Within two years we had taken control of Congress for the first time in 40 years," he added.
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