“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people”.
Ronald Reagan at CPAC, 1975
With what passes for political discourse today, sometimes we just need to reflect and take stock on the timeless wisdom of our last political genius. Reagan’s words ring as true today as they did over 40 years ago and Republicans would be wise to take heed and follow them.
Donald Trump has a style that lends itself to making sharp contrasts but they are more often personal and tactical attacks rather than the ideological and strategic contrasts Reagan was emphasizing. If he wants to “make America great again”, The Donald should study carefully the speech methodology of “The Great Communicator”.
Certainly, there are near term issues that need the strong hand of the Oval Office to wrest solutions from the Washington bureaucratic quagmire. I believe Trump, with the right team of advisors, can be quite effective in slowing the seeming inexorable creep of government into our daily lives. However, there is a more fundamental battle that has to be enjoined if America is to again thrive.
Beginning in the 1960’s, the Democrats embarked on a long-term strategy to change the electorate from the greatest generation to one of managed sheep – ignorant and needy and they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. The Hart-Celler Act of 1965, coupled with Lyndon Johnson’s War On Poverty; set the nation on a transformational course that has resulted in the societal mess we find ourselves in today.
From our country’s inception, immigration had been an orderly process of adding important contributors from a variety of global regions to our society. Only those that could contribute to our national well-being were admitted. The Democrats destroyed this process and turned our once orderly immigration system into a third world flood designed to populate the War On Poverty welfare state and insure a majority of slavish Democratic voters. This is just about complete now.
Trump has commendably focused on immigration and made it a defining issue for his campaign. Securing the borders and being much more discriminating in who is allowed to enter the country will be a good start in shutting down the Democrats’ scam. However, we would still be left with an ignorant, misguided electorate that must be introduced to our founding principles and the virtues of conservatism. This is where Reagan’s strategy gives us the way forward.
One of the biggest failings of the George W. Bush administration was that it did not defend and promote conservatism. Relentless attacks from the Left were ignored and left unanswered. Opportunities to explain and promote conservative solutions were too often bypassed. This reticence got us eight years of Obama and may well yield a third term with Hillary Clinton. The time is now for Republicans to paint a bold picture of the superiority of conservatism over the tired, failed bromides the Democrats are peddling.
Republicans must now understand that first and foremost they are engaged in an ideological battle with the Left. The Left has been driven to win an ideological war for decades now and Republicans have been sleep walking, limiting their actions to political maneuvering. They rail against Obama when he fails to label Islamic terror as such, yet they fail to call their political enemy in Washington what it is – totalitarian statism. How can you win a war when you do not recognize and name your enemy for what they are?
The case for conservatism is an easy one to make. It is an innate drive in humans to be free, to make of your life what you want it to be and to enjoy the benefits derived from your personal efforts. Every human has dreams and aspirations of what their life could be. Our highest state of being is the pursuit of that personal vision. This is the embodiment of conservatism and the Left has done everything it can to distort and dispel this truth from public discourse. And the Republicans have abdicated their responsibility to defend what has really made America great.
Trump’s life story is a clear model for the possibilities of every citizen. He could be an effective evangelist for the pursuit of happiness the liberal statists so abhor. However, he has to step back from the rhetorical jousting that has characterized his campaign so far and engage the ideological war that currently only the Left is fighting. He has the charisma and now the platform to engage the war effectively, but will he?
I am concerned with who I see Trump surrounding himself with. While Trump has promoted an image of being a Washington outsider, his campaign team is heavily loaded with Republican establishment insiders. His gaggle of advisors is looking more and more like the Bob Dole team of 1996. I don’t believe there is one advisor on his team that worked with Reagan.
It’s time for Donald Trump to stop flirting with Bernie Sanders supporters and become the conservative evangelist he is capable of being. Do that and he, like Reagan, could win in a landslide.