Reagan Era is Ours for the Keeping
By Phil Perkins
December 1, 2008
While reading Dinesh D'Souza's brilliant expose, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, I was reaffirmed in the timelessness of the great man's beliefs for America and why his beliefs never go out of style. And why liberals still see these beliefs as such a threat.
Although D'Souza's book was published 11 years ago, and I found it on a discount rack at a local bookstore, it shines just as brightly today as then in illuminating what made Reagan a great leader and president. It was not just what he believed in and why he believed it; what really set Reagan apart was the fierce determination with which he held on to those beliefs. What many of us mistook for simple ignorance of how his adversaries felt toward him, was in reality Reagan's ability to deflect the criticism and keep on advancing toward his goals in the face of biting critiques and skepticism.
Perhaps one of D'Souza's most salient points was that Reagan was not only running against the Democrat candidate; he was in fact running against the twentieth century in its totality-the century which ushered in the era of Big Government. And though the loss of individual freedom and financial mismanagement that that entailed is only too painfully obvious to conservatives, many Americans started to believe in Big Government as a solution to their problems. Therefore, the insulting caricature of Reagan as an "amiable dunce" belied his shrewdness in swimming against this tide and in discerning what type of leadership the American people were truly seeking. By packaging his beliefs about government, taxation, and national security into anecdotes and allegories that made the complex simple and relevant, Reagan became popular across all of America and her demographics-young and old, wealthy and not so well-to-do, north or south. A "dunce" of any stripe simply could not have accomplished this.
The pundits of our day who are declaring that the Reagan era is over or, at the very least, that it needs to end in the so-called best interests of the Republican Party, ignore the shrewdness and political capabilities of Reagan the man and focus on his allegedly "far-right" principles as hopelessly out of date. Yet today, a politician of similar skills who advocated smaller, less costly and intrusive government; lower taxes; and a strong defense, especially to offset the continuing terrorist threat, would have a ready audience. As numerous articles on this site have stated over the years, America has been and continues to be a center-right nation who, with the proper motivation from an inspiring candidate, will vote in that manner. It is Obama's election and the increased Democrat majorities swept in with him that are truly the aberration and will be shown as such in the annals of history.
If Reagan were here now, I would not be a bit surprised to hear him decry the way his party has pandered to the Left on issues such as so-called man-made "climate change," illegal immigration, runaway spending on Medicare prescriptions and education, and so on. As he would point out, just because the job of winning people over is tougher as the prevailing culture moves ever leftward, does not mean that we should throw in the towel and take the path of least resistance. Since, in so doing, we dilute those bedrock beliefs on which this nation and our party were built.
If Sarah Palin made any serious mistakes during the recent campaign, they were due to her not anticipating just how scathing the drive-by media and the Democrats' criticisms of her would be. She may have helped herself in this regard by reading D'Souza's book, which states clearly the reasons behind the Left's hysteria toward the prospect of a Reagan presidency and why they continuously tried to undermine Reagan the candidate and the president. Even Reagan, as great of a communicator as he was when he had the script (and it's important to note that the script was largely his own, not something manufactured for him), was often out of his element in press conferences or interviews with drive-bys whose only wish was to zing him as much as possible. Sarah Palin apparently had the same problem and therefore should have stayed away from the likes of Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, who were only out to make her look bad and, unfortunately, for the most part succeeded.
The era of Reagan is only over if we allow it to be. And to do that would be a huge mistake. This time, we shouldn't let the Democrats, drive-bys and faux conservatives and RINOs decide what is or isn't over for us.