February 14, 2014Reagan's Roadmap to VictoryBy Herbert E. Meyer
Do you miss President Reagan? Do you smile every time you see a film clip of our 40th president on some television show? And do you lunge for the remote control and flip from Fox News to a movie channel every time one of the current Republican would-be presidents starts to say something so weird, so clumsy, so blindingly stupid you'd think he was actually trying to help Hillary get elected?
Treat yourself to a copy of 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, by Paul Kengor. It's a brilliant, beautifully written summary of what Ronald Reagan believed and how he communicated his beliefs to those of us he cheerfully called "my fellow Americans."
Kengor has sifted through President Reagan's speeches, blended those words with Reagan's actions in office, and distilled from all this the eleven principles on which Ronald Reagan lived and governed:
Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
The Founders' Wisdom and Vision
Peace through Strength
Belief in the Individual
Reagan's adherence to these principles wasn't based on the results of a focus-group study or on the advice of some overpaid political consultant. It was based on a lifetime of serious study -- of politics, of history, of economics, and of human nature -- that the President's critics never grasped and never even suspected this genial Californian had undertaken. Reagan himself explained his devotion to these principles in a speech he gave in 1977, three years before he was elected president:
The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and that we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations -- found through the often bitter testing of pain or sacrifice and sorrow.
Reagan being Reagan, he always found a way to communicate these principles with such clarity that even Americans who'd never voted for a Republican began to think that maybe, just maybe, this ex-actor turned politician wasn't the amiable idiot his opponents said he was. Here's Reagan in 1983, speaking at a luncheon meeting of the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association and touching on Principle Number Nine, "Peace through Strength":
There have been four wars in my lifetime. We didn't get into any of them because we were too strong.
Kengor being Kengor -- he's the author of several histories including Crusader, one of the very finest Reagan biographies -- he weaves into his outline of Reagan's principles some factual reporting that you won't find in whatever remains of the Mainstream Media. Here's Kengor on the actual impact on real people of Principle Number Seven, "Lower Taxes":
Contrary to liberal demonology, women and blacks and other minorities did extremely well during the Reagan years. Real income for a median black family had dropped 11 percent from 1977 through 1982; from 1982 through 1989, coming out of the recession, it rose by 17 percent. In the 1980s, there was a 40 percent jump in the number of black households earning $50,000 or more. Black unemployment (which has increased significantly under President Barack Obama) actually fell faster than white unemployment in the 1980s. The number of black-owned businesses increased by almost 40 percent, while the number of blacks who enrolled in college increased by almost 30 percent (white college enrollment increased by only 6 percent.)
Unlike so many of today's politicians, President Reagan understood the difference between asserting and persuading. Of course he "played to his base," but he did it in a way that expanded his base across party lines and into the hearts of ordinary Americans who just wanted to be left alone to do their jobs, raise their kids, and pursue their dreams. And that's why 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative is more than a pleasant trip down memory lane, laced with some facts you can use to stun your liberal friends. It's a roadmap to victory for today's conservatives -- if only they have the brains and courage to grasp it.Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. He is author of How to Analyze Information and The Cure for Poverty.
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