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What Makes A Reaganite?

The greatest President in the last century, if you are a Conservative, is Ronald Reagan. Because of this, every Republican wanna-be compares himself to the Gipper, and every Republican who wants to be President claims to be a Reagan Republican. The range of candidates making such claims is so broad, that frankly some of them have to be lying to make that claim. The trouble, of course, is that any of the posers would be quick to assure you that his opponent is the liar, while he is the real deal. So, rather than get into a prolonged ad hominem shootout, I think the better course for us would be to discuss the qualities of a true Reagan Republican.

Ronald Reagan made his mark even as he took office, when news broke that Iranian terrorists had released American hostages taken in 1979 when they overran the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. While the terrorists had meant for the gesture to be a sign of contempt against the Carter Administration, the public generally took it as a sign that Iran was far more worried about a Reagan White House than his predecessor, and that Reagan stood for a strong America. That image was his first legacy, and it still stands. Any Republican who would claim the Reagan mantle, must first be strong on the Military and resolute on National Security.

Reagan is also famous for Free Trade. Trade was an effective weapon against Communism, a force which Gorbachev could neither deny nor defeat. It was also Reagan's trump card for unifying the West and guaranteeing the preeminence of America in her alliances and associations. Reagan was the driving force behind NAFTA, and he was a constant advocate of a world without tarifffs or trade barriers. As much as Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan created and developed the concept of Globalization as we know it. Any Republican who would claim Reagan's blessing, must also be a thorough champion of Free Trade.

Reagan also stood for Free Speech. Reagan not only encouraged and energized the rhetorical forces of Conservatism, but he also listened and responded to Liberal arguments, either debunking false claims or building respect by accepting valid claims. Reagan properly recognized the 'Fairness Doctrine' for the Orwellian lie it was, and worked to dismantle it. Reagan knew and taught that free expression of ideas, concepts, debate was the best and surest means to creating open societies and truly republican democracies. Any Republican who would claim to be like Reagan, must support freedom for expressing opinion, especially in politics.

Reagan also stood for the United States Constitution. It was his constant desire for judges to obey the provisions, and the limits, of the Constitution and to limit government intrusion into the lives and freedom of American citizens to those boundaries explicitly defined in the Constitution. Any Republican who would claim to carry forward Reagan's legacy, must support constructionist judges and justices.

Those are my first thoughts on what it means to be a Reaganite.



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Comments (9)

One of my favorite Reagan q... (Below threshold)
Clay:

One of my favorite Reagan quotes:
"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

I believe Reagan's greatest... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

I believe Reagan's greatest quality was that he was such a strong, effective communicator. He could persuade, inspire, and motivate. He spoke clearly and simply without spin or nuance.

He would look you in the eye and you knew that you could trust and believe him. I don't get that feeling very much from the current crop of GOP wannabe's and I've never gotten that feeling from any of the leftists.

"Reagan is also famous for ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

"Reagan is also famous for Free Trade."

Is that what we are calling Iran/Contra now?

Hey, Barney. Nice to see y... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Hey, Barney. Nice to see you made bail.

Reagan is the greatest pres... (Below threshold)
Jo:

Reagan is the greatest president of the last century.....period.

Reagan understood the compr... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Reagan understood the compromise of politics, but everything he did was to advance the conservative agenda of "saving babies, killing terrorists, small gov". He compromised with the Dem for some tax increases in return for spending cuts. But we all knew how the dems would keep their promises. Barney is not happy because Reagan brought down communism, especially Nicaraguan communists (while the dems in Congress were trying to aid the communists there).

AlQuaeda tricked some women with Down Syndrome for a bombing attack today. Yet you will hear liberals calling for withdrawal from Iraq so that AlQ will have a free hand to blow up more women and children. And they will not forget about attacking the American homeland when they have free time on their hands.

Reagan is also fam... (Below threshold)
jpm100:
Reagan is also famous for Free Trade. Trade was an effective weapon against Communism, a force which Gorbachev could neither deny nor defeat. It was also Reagan's trump card for unifying the West and guaranteeing the preeminence of America in her alliances and associations. Reagan was the driving force behind NAFTA, and he was a constant advocate of a world without tarifffs or trade barriers. As much as Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan created and developed the concept of Globalization as we know it. Any Republican who would claim Reagan's blessing, must also be a thorough champion of Free Trade.
I'd like to say your second sentence pretty much disqualifies Reagan from today's Republican Party's defition of a Free Trade Advocate. There's no way we'd see Reagan endorsing the level of trade we have with China without having seen Human Rights reforms there. And this is not to mention a tighter lease on N. Korea these past 10 years.

Anyway, I've alway seen NAFTA as we know it attributed to G.H. Bush and this is the first time I've heard a connection to Reagan.

But to the point of the article, I believe an over emphasis on 'Free Trade' is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, distortions of what is suppose to be Conservative. Personally I consider that a Republican issue and not a Conservative issue at all.

I believe Reagan believed in Self-Reliance and autonomy for the US. Period. (people confuse autonomy for isolationism or non-interventionalism, it ain't) Everything else derives from that.

So, to that end he believed in minimized government interference into certainly the domestic marketplace. Although I believe there was was reservations/regrets about Japan's currency fixing in the 80's and the consequence for US manufacturering, he mostly wished for minimum interference in trade among our allies as well. But that's where he drew the line. However that record is being distorted.

Reagan was not 'International Trade Above All Else', like most of today's Republican Leadership.

Reagan set three goals when... (Below threshold)
HughS:

Reagan set three goals when he campaigned in 1976 and 1980:

1) Win the Cold War and return America to its position of military dominance in the world. Pundits today unremember Reykjavik and the deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe. The criticism today of Bush war policy pales in comparison to the storm Reagan faced daily from a totally dominated liberal media.

2) Lower Taxes...Reagan strong armed a Democrat controlled House to lower the highest marginal rates from 70%. Does anyone old enough remember that doctors in the 1960's and 1970's didn't work on Wednesdays? Why? To avoid that high marginal rate...they played golf instead. Productivity anyone?

3) Reduce the Size and Influence of the federal government.

Reagan accomplished the first two despite overwhelming obstacles and failed at third, especially with TEFRA in 1986.

Reagan was the greatest President, at the most important time, of the century.

Reagan was a principled rea... (Below threshold)
McCainiac:

Reagan was a principled realist. He wasn't afraid to talk to the other side, and his dialogue with Gorbatchev was one part of his work in ending the Cold War. His speeches, although very powerful, did not make use of bombastic threats. He knew when to hold em and when to fold em, as when he got out of Beirut after the Marine barracks bombing there.




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