Students of history—particularly my students of history—will remember Ronald Reagan’s genius unification of the Republican Party during the 1980 election. Through sheer strength of charisma and occasionally insane rhetoric, Reagan consolidated three fundamentally disparate groups—old-time political conservatives, the nouveau riche, and church people—into what we now recognize as the contemporary GOP. Those of us who grew up under Reagan tend to take this alliance for granted, but it wasn’t always so. For most of the twentieth century, evangelical Christians were a reliable constituency of the Democratic Party, and the newly wealthy were anybody’s guess. The Great Communicator’s success as a politician, if not as a President, was his ability to describe the Republican agenda in terms these three groups understood. Hence the Evil Empire speech, in which the principle feature of communism is the abolition not of private property but of religion. “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism,” sounds like an utterly bonkers thing for the President of the United States to say into a microphone, but that microphone was provided by the National Association of Evangelicals. When he spoke to the Club For Growth, it was all tax cuts and welfare queens, and when he spoke to the hawks in Congress, it was the Strategic Defense Initiative. All of it boiled down to one easily digestible GOP platform, and there lied the genius of Ronald Reagan.