The thing to keep in mind about Reagan; he was the right guy for the right problems at the right time.
It's foolish to wait for another Ronald Reagan. But not just because his political gifts are rare. There's a particular way in which Reagan was exceptional that many of us fail to appreciate: He was the only president of the last century who came to the office as the leader of an ideological movement.
Reagan gave "The Speech" in October 1964, inherited the leadership of the conservative movement after Goldwater's loss, defeated a moderate establishment Republican two years later to win the GOP nomination for governor of California, and then defeated the Democratic incumbent. He remained in a sense the leader of conservatives nationally while serving two terms as governor, ran unsuccessfully against Gerald Ford in 1976, and won the presidency in 1980. He was a conservative first and a politician second, a National Review and Human Events reader first and an elected official second.
But I still contend the reason the conservative movement is faltering today is that too many republicans bastardized the message, used the message to get elected, then became part of the fat ass establishment. It's a scene straight out of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
I think the only person in the republican party that gets this is Newt Gingrich.
While I'm not a fan of Jerry Springer, I heard him on a talk show a couple of weeks ago and he made a very salient point on politics. He said (roughly paraphrasing) "The day you decide you're going to make a career in politics is the day you decide to give up your integrity because it becomes more about winning elections than leading change".
That's why Reagan was so far out in front of the republican party. He knew the conservative movement was much bigger than he was, he wasn't about winning an elections as he was leading something bigger than he. If you've never read his 1964 speech, you need to. It'll bring tears to your eyes.
I'm afraid Reagan had a qualities we'll never see in a leader again.