Henry Olsen: “I volunteered for the Republican Party starting when I was 12.”

Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and an opinion columnist for The Washington Post. Henry’s work “focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right.” He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

Mr. Olsen’s opinion pieces for The Washington Post focus on politics, populism, foreign affairs and American conservative thought. He has authored several books including: Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism, and The Four Faces of the Republican Party, co-authored with Dante Scala.

“I grew up at a time of the Cold War and something attracted me to being politically interested as young as 6 years old. I remember following the 1968 presidential race you know. ”

“I was somebody who conflated American conservatism with what could be called populism. I grew up in Reagan’s California. I volunteered for the Republican Party starting when I was 12 and imbibed California conservatism as part of my political philosophy.”

“And what’s happened was, you know, over time I began to think that the things that I believed in weren’t being upheld by the philosophy that was being propounded. And, for me I started thinking in the early part of this decade about how do we recover that? So, I thought, well I’m gonna go back to Ronald Reagan. I’m going to start learning about it because when Reagan took over he became the leader of the Republican Party. The Republican Party was considered a dinosaur. It had one third of the members of the house. It had thirty-something members of the Senate, it controlled four of the fifty states, and the common wisdom was the only solution was to move left, and Reagan not only moved it to the right, but he made it the equal of the Democratic Party for the first time in 50 years. So the question is how does he do this?”