The GOP Should Embrace a Jefferson-Reagan Day, While Democrats Should Show Lincoln-FDR Some Love

Republicans should celebrate Jefferson-Reagan Day.

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Democrats and Republicans are both doing it wrong when it comes to the presidents they annually pay tribute to, so says a presidential historian.

"It often amuses me that the Democratic Party, every year, celebrates Jefferson-Jackson Day," said author Craig Symonds, who wrote "Lincoln and His Admirals" and appeared at a Lincoln-inspired panel discussion sponsored by Ford's Theatre on Tuesday. Thomas Jefferson, said Symonds, was a big states' rights guy, while Andrew Jackson was responsible for the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native American populations. "Not necessarily icons the Democratic Party today would hold up," Symonds said. "And yet, there they are." Jefferson-Jackson Day is celebrated each spring with political fundraising dinners and off-the-cuff speeches.

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Turning to the GOP, Symonds noted that the Republicans' annual tribute isn't in line with modern ideology either.

"And the Republican Party holds the Lincoln Day Dinner, which of course Lincoln and his views would not be compatible with much of what the modern Republican Party advocates," Symonds said.

That being said, the Lincoln scholar has an idea to make things right. "I have suggested in other venues that the Republican Party ought to have a Jefferson-Reagan Dinner, and the Democratic Party should have a Lincoln-Franklin Roosevelt Dinner, and that would make more sense than the current tendency," Symonds said.

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