Ronald Reagan, like Republican presidents in recent decades generally, was more liberal than his image or reputation. Nixon started a pattern where you could be a Rockefeller Republican, a Sunbelt Chamber of Commerce functionary, or a neocon, but play a George Wallace populist on TV, and get elected Prez.
By Thom Hartmann Salon
When armed Black Panthers showed up at the California State Capitol in 1967, they probably saved thousands of lives.
On May 2, 1967, the destinies of Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Ronald Reagan collided. The day saved untold thousands of lives.
At the time, California was an open-carry state with few gun restrictions. Gov. Reagan was on the steps of the State Capitol to meet and share lunch with a group of visiting eighth-graders when Newton, Seale and nearly 30 other Black Panthers pulled up out front in a small caravan of cars.
Armed with everything from pistols to 12-gauge shotguns, they climbed the half-dozen steps to the area around the front doors of the building. Seale pulled out a prepared statement, and read it to the students and people in front of the Capitol:
“Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against Black people. The time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”