Alexander's Column

The Reagan Model for Restoration

By Mark Alexander · Feb. 4, 2010
“No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution.” –Joseph Story
Commander in Chief

This week, we observe the birthday anniversary of Ronald Wilson Reagan – or “Reagan Day” as it is known around our office.

Ronald Reagan was, and remains, the North Star of the last great conservative revolution – and the next – if more Republicans will abide by their oaths to Support and Defend our Constitution and abide by their own political party platform.

At the most recent Republican National Committee confab, some members proposed a “Unity Principle for Support of Candidates” resolution, which identified 10 conservative principles, at least eight of which Republican candidates must support in order to receive RNC funding.

The measure failed, perhaps because more than a few of the current crop of politicos who call themselves “Republican” could not pass muster.

Subsequent to that failed motion, some Leftist intellectuals (an oxymoron, I know, but play along) opined that, based on Reagan’s record, not even he would have passed the test.

Of course, as Leftists are prone to do, they are contorting the record so it will comport with their hypothesis, or as Reagan said famously, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

What is clear about the Reagan record is that he both campaigned and governed on our First Principles, Constitutional Rule of Law and the basic tenets of Essential Liberty.

Unfortunately, at no time did President Reagan have Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, much less a super majority. Because of this, his conservative credentials were sometimes undermined by the opposition. This is most notable in the House’s failure to abide by negotiated government spending cuts to social programs commensurate with the tax cuts and increased defense spending that Reagan enacted.

Reagan resurrected supply-side economics – the real-world-tested fiscal policy that reductions in tax rates and government spending will invigorate the private sector economy, elevate GDP, resulting, ironically, in additional tax revenues even at the lower rates of taxation. But the principle works best only if reduced tax rates are accompanied by comparable reductions in government spending.

Democrats refused to cut spending, all while belittling Reagan’s efforts as “trickle-down economics.”

However, supply-side economics is so powerful that even though Democrat-controlled House budgets led to record deficits, Reagan’s economic policies resulted in the largest peacetime economic surge in American history. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the “trickle-up poverty” of the current administration’s past, present and proposed “economic recovery” plans.

Typical of great statesmen, Ronald Reagan took no credit for our nation’s economic recovery under his tenure. He was called “The Great Communicator” because of his ability to remind us of our nation’s values, its character, its soul and its confidence, a far cry from the incessant apologizing and the political chicanery that characterize the Obama presidency.

“I wasn’t a great communicator,” President Reagan said in his farewell address, “but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation – from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries.”

And what were those principles?

Back in 1964, shortly after Reagan parted ways with the Democrat Party (“I did not leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me.”), he delivered a timeless challenge to conservatives entitled “A Time for Choosing”: “You and I are told we must choose between a left or right,” Reagan said, “but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right, There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream – the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

In 1977, Reagan outlined a plan for “The New Republican Party,” stating, “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 what 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.”

He continued: “We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people.

"Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation. Families – not government programs – are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved. … We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our families; we know that it is not powerful enough to replace them.

"Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business … frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

"Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. … And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.”

In his 1981 inaugural address, President Reagan assured the nation: “The economic ills we suffer … will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Ronald Wilson Reagan appealed to the best in us.

His final words at the 1992 Republican convention reflect that appeal: “And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way. My fondest hope for each one of you – and especially for young people – is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.”

On the other hand, Barack Hussein Obama appeals to the worst in his constituents – their fears, doubts, dependence on the state, greed and envy, brokenness, pessimism and sense of helplessness. He has twisted JFK’s inaugural appeal to read: “Ask what your country can do for you, not what you can do for your country.”

Ronald Reagan provided a timeless template for the restoration of our nation’s economic and moral prosperity, and a return to First Principles and the Rule of Law. Once again, it is time for action, time to choose.

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60 Comments

Becky Dunlop said:

Very nice piece...good reminder for all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Hank Roberts said:

in yur article you stated: "At the most recent Republican National Committee confab, some members proposed a 'Unity Principle for Support of Candidates' resolution, which identified 10 conservative principles, at least eight of which Republican candidates must support in order to receive RNC funding."The measure failed, perhaps because more than a few of the current crop of politicos who call themselves 'Republican' could not pass muster."While I'm not sure those are the ten items I would use to determine support, I would REALLY like to know who supported and who opposed this resolution.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Lorn Cramer said:

Reagan was a rock and a steadfast supporter of the United States Constitution. I am very disappointed with "lamestreet media's portrayal of him as incompetent. The History channel aired a program obviously aimed at discrediting President Reagan's legacy and emphasizing the important contributions of President Jimmy Carter. Pointing out his childish behavior and eating jelly beans, sleepinng in meetings and his missile defense initiative "star wars", as a bizzare concoction of his imagination. Even one of Reagan's staff (David Gergen)was quoted as saying that President Reagan "wasn't particularly bright". The History channel is trying to re-write our past, proving once again that the pen is mightier than the sword. Ronald Regan was a true patriot and a "real Commander in Chief"! Happy Birthday President Reagan and God Bless America.Lorn Cramer U.S. Army Retired

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Marcy Dupre said:

I sorely miss the quiet humility and towering strength of Ronald Reagan. One of the many things I remember about him was his insistence on personal responsibility attendant with Constitutional Rights. If you don't guard them, you will lose them. And his warning has proven true. We have moved away from the concept of self-reliance and have become dependent on the nanny state, a nanny state we are now in fear of."The government large enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away." -- attributed to both Thomas Jefferson and Barry GoldwaterAnd I like the quote in your trailer from Samuel Adams. How true!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Clive W. Foster said:

Until I voted against Obama, the only times I ever voted in a presidential election were in 1980, and 1984. Both times I voted for Reagan, neither time was I disappointed. This past election cycle has left me thinking more critically about the past. I've begun to wake up, and realize that an insidious force has been attacking our country for a very long time. The Democrats are definitely to be blamed, but let us not give the Republican Party a complete pass just because they are "not as bad" Richard M. Nixon took the US Dollar off of the gold standard paving the way for Congress to start 'counterfeiting' our own currency. Reagan, for all his accomplishments, never did anything to begin dismantling the Nanny State that had been begun by FDR, on the framework laid by Woodrow Wilson, expanded by JFK, even more so by LBJ, and added to by Jimmy Carter. Making the Communists stop building is not tantamount to tearing down what has already been built, they will just resume construction once a 'more progressive' Chief Executive is inaugurated. This has been demonstrated time and time again. Three things at a minimum need to occur. 1) We need leaders to have the courage to end Federal entitlements. 2) We need to not vote them out of office as soon as they begin to do that work. 3) We need to educate ourselves and our neighbors in the First Priciples, so that they will begin to assume responsibility for themselves. There are many more things that need to be done. Instead of trying to change leadership in DC, and feeling good about that happening, how about running for your local School Board, and then working to renegotiate the Teachers contracts to do away with the tenure system, and making it easier to dismiss the incompetent or lazy? Then you can set about writing a budget to run the schools on local funding, and tell the federal government to pack sand when they try to dictate how you teach your children. Te Left has long been filling the schools with their disciples, and they have been indoctrinating our children. Until we get THIS 'grass roots' any changes we implement at the top with be brief and temporary.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Charles Westbrook said:

Great Column. I wonder what President Reagan would have said about exporting our Industrial Strength and earning capacity to Communist in China.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:26 PM

June Angstadt said:

There are other good conservative websites on the internet, but yours is absolutely beyond compare. You are neither alarmists nor hate mongerers. Kudos to you for purity of content.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Barbara Micheli said:

Great article, as always,Mark. A wonderful tribute to President Reagan. Boy, don't we wish he was here now!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Gary Wood said:

It is good to see Mark Alexander point to the downfall of the economic programs Ronald Reagan wanted. To only submit tax cuts witout a corresponding reduction in government programs spells challenges for success and skews the data to a spin doctor's delight. Today many point to Reagan's failed policy yet it was not his failure, it was the failure of those surrounding his valiant efforts to reduce federal government, restore state level controls, and repair the damage of an out of control general growth begun and embraced in earnest under Roosevelt, Johnson, and Carter. When we hear people slam Reagan-omics as failed this is the part of the historical facts they either do not know or will not accept. His programs were stopped from full implementation, government was not reduced as he so dearly wanted it to be. Reagan was not helped by his vice president or his party faction. They allowed him to be the lightening rod of dissatisfaction as the tax cuts were not enough, alone, to sustain long-term fiscal improvement. Those surrounding him did not stand strong for reduced federal government. By 1994 the people were sold a contract from the master salesman, Newt Gingrich. This too came from the shadows of a faction who failed Reagan, and they failed the people who trusted them once again. Most of this trust was due to our embrace of Ronald Reagan. Today I still trust him and have long been saddened by the abuse from Bush, Sr., Gingrich, DeLay, and others who were not then, or now, friends to conservative values. Yesterday we saw Gingrich stand with Bennett, just as we saw Romney stand with him months ago. These people still are not our friends nor are they supporters of the true principles Reagan upheld. I remember the moving influence Gov. Reagan had on me in my youth. I still hold dear a card he sent to me in 1972, though it was merely a reprint that went to many of us. Ronald Reagan moved me to commit to our Constitution and our heritage because he was an example of statesmen of old. The moving influence of Bennett, Gingrich, and Romney is as strong. Bennett, Gingrich, and Romney move me to commit to our Constitution as well because they represent the political animals that will destroy it as quickly as the Demcratic factions, the progressives who willingly defy their oaths. To me Bennett, Gingrich, Romney, and other Republican 'leaders' are even worse than their progressive friends because they deceive to achieve their desired goal of rule. These are the true, hard core thieves of liberty and freedom for they pose as friends and many believe they are. Reagan would no doubt be saddened by the direction they have taken. Not only did the Democratic Party leave him in the 50s, our Republican Party of today has left him as well. Thank you for sharing this moving account and helping me to solidfy my committment to educate people so they can recognize the thiefs among us who will celebrate Reagan's name while failing to support his passion for our heritage of liberty under self-governing, God centered principles.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Tom in Montana said:

Well, well written and how true. My God, how far have we strayed?

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM

topgun_1959 said:

This an exceptional article which, in today's political environment, is more heartwarming than it would otherwise be. I don't believe enough positive things can be said of Ronald Reagan who made most of us extremely proud to be Americans. This came at a time, after four years of the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter, that the country needed a flag waving leader to inspire us to be our best again.The comments posted by Ted Wood are unconcionable and he qualifies the fact that he voted for Reagan twice while he "was using hard drugs". Enough said!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Sarah Smila said:

Oh, if we could just have another "Ronald Reagan" as our 2012 candidate. The preservation of this great country as a free nation depends upon it. In addition to Reagan, my heroes include George Washington (for his bravery), and Thomas Jefferson for his belief, like Reagan, that big government was not the solution, but the problem.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Frank E. Waterstraat said:

02/04/10Our founder Fathers gave us the GIFT,And God gave usRONALD WILSON REAGAN,Was also a GIFT and a TYPE ofman,It seems only come along every 230 yrs.A truePattiot,to our CONSTITUTION.If we can't find true PATRIOT soon,WOE IS US!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:15 PM

John Zee said:

What an excellent essay on the strengths and vision of RR. Unfortunately, his "new republican party" is fast disappearing in the very efforts you outline. The selfishness and lack of program and progress is putting the RNC in the cross-hairs of defeat. We need, must have, a future outlined by a sense of positive and love of freedom. The GOP, for which I have voted since 1949 is but a shadow of its former self. Its Chair talks of nothing but Obama and his inherent problems. Nothing comes forth to support what is becoming a need for a momentum for freedom. Without someone and something to vote for, something in which we can believe, there will be a dissolution of the Republican party and a rise in the independent spirit of reform. It's not too late to begin. The clock, however, is running - fast.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

J O'Brien said:

Just a comparison:Reagan: I wasn't a great communicator but I communicated great thingsObama: I have a giftReagan: There is no such thing as a left or right, there is only an up or downObama: I wonReagan: We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our familiesObama: I don't want my daughter punished with a babyReagan: Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problemObama: I take my share of the blame for not explaining [Obamacare] more clearly Reagan: May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimismObama: We are going to fundamentally transform America

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:56 PM