Republicans are right when they seek to invoke President Ronald Reagan’s legacy as their standard. Because Reagan redefined what it meant to be a Republican so profoundly his legacy will remain the gold standard for some time. George W. Bush ran on that legacy but did not hold to it in important ways once he was elected. In much the same way Democrats have invoked the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as their standard bearer for over sixty years. The major difference is that modern Democrats are much further from FDR, at least on foreign policy, than any of them would ever care to admit.
But most Republicans have already abandoned the Reagan legacy too, it is just not so obvious yet. My friend Andrew Sandlin captures this fracture very well in a piece that he wrote this week. I urge you to read it. Andrew expresses well what I noted a few days ago on this site when I outlined a simple three-point test for what should guide a modern conservative political philosophy. I also think he is quite right to note that Governor Huckaby is not a real conservative, except on certain moral/social issues. Fiscally and internationally he is not an heir to the legacy of the greatest president in my lifetime.
What saddens me about this is that so few evangelicals, who were energized to get into politics by the Reagan Revolution in the first place, have grown immensely comfortable in their use of political power but have no idea how to properly think about conservatism as outlined by Reagan and those who helped to shape his views. One reason Republicans are not excited/energized about this election, at least not yet, is that hey have no clear Reaganite to support in the current race, or at least no one that is viable politically. (Fred Thompson may actually come the closest to Reagan but he is dead in the water politically and doesn’t seem to have the "fire in the belly" to win.)