After a disappointing 2012 election, the GOP and Conservative camp are in planning and reflection modes. Though the next Presidential election is not until 2016, speculation over who will be the next candidate has by no means been subtle. Possible contenders include Senators Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. While they have been named, none have yet committed or given any major hint as to their intents. In terms of ideology many pundits have argued for a shift to Fiscal Conservatism, while drastically changing the stance on immigration and other social issues. Others have argued no change is needed. I would argue what we need is a Reaganesque Conservatism; new Reagan revolution.
Reagan was a man who was media savvy, articulate, and likable. His vision won the hearts and minds of Democrats and Republicans alike. His form of Conservatism was one which united Conservatives; as David Limbaugh recently emphasized in his article “Social Conservatives: GOP Can’t Live Without Them.”
Without sacrificing any core Conservative values, Reagan swept the country and offered Reaganomics, economic policy that could be understood by the average person. He knew that connecting with America would require more than promises, but an engaged and active commander in chief. Reagan, who brought about a peaceful resolution to the cold war and brought America out of the “stagflation” period of the Carter administration, showed Americans true leadership, and the most effective ways to defeat adversaries both ideologically and physically. He projected strength both physical and spiritual.
Much like the Cold War, our country faces an ideological threat in that of Radical Islam. Like communism, this threat will not weaken by simply ignoring it. Their hatred will not go away even if we accommodate them. Having faced an attack in the same area of the world (North Africa) where America first encountered Islamic terror with the Barbary pirates, we should realize the threat that Radical Islam and its adherents pose to the Western way of life.
The many civilians worldwide murdered by Islamists would most likely testify to the importance of defeating evil. While we cannot afford to be the world’s policeman, nor should we, the enemy can neither be appeased nor wished away. Involvement in other countries’ civil wars are not necessarily in our national interest. Our way of life and what America stands for must be non- negotiable, and unaffected by the opinions of those who hate America. Like Ronald Reagan said so famously “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Two other values that President Reagan championed were small government, and the power of the individual. He viewed welfare and the subsequent entitlement mentality as harmful to America. He believed that “man is not free unless government is limited.” He would no doubt be shocked to see the political landscape today and the continued increase in entitlements and government bailouts many “czars” that President Obama has appointed; not to mention the many “czars” that President Obama has appointed.
I believe there is something Conservatives should emphasize; that is the importance and centrality of limited government, and decreased regulation of industry by government. Reaganomics caught on for a reason, and provided a blueprint for economic recovery. Reagan’s economic vision is one I believe we should champion for strong economic growth.
I also believe we should maintain the values social Conservatism to promote a moral society. This is something President Reagan took pride in, and felt was a cornerstone of Conservatism and its vision for America.
While our Conservative movement should be inclusive of people united behind conservative principals (even if we don’t agree on all the principals), President Reagan’s belief that “If we ever forgot that we are one nation under G-d then, we will be a nation gone under” rings true now as it did then. His message, and the hopeful way he delivered it, should be an inspiration to those wishing to carry the torch of Conservatism.
While very few people can replicate the charisma and vision of Ronald Reagan, today’s Republican Party would do well to emulate his vision, enthusiasm and hope for America. We should emphasize the importance of patriotism, being good citizens, and the importance of doing what is best for the country, what is true to the Constitution, and not what is most politically expedient. Remaining true to these three aspects of conservatism will help us to win, and most importantly, to preserve liberty and justice for all.