What would Reagan do?asks Martin Sieff.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement in America have been brought to their current appalling state because they are full of people who endlessly praise Ronald Reagan while doing the opposite of what he taught and practiced. In fact, Reagan’s brilliant example and crystal spirit can light up the road ahead – if conservatives will open their closed minds and shriveled spirits to him.
First of all, Ronald Reagan was a lifelong optimist and an example of remarkable resilience especially in bad times.
… Reagan therefore would not have lost heart and despaired of conservative and patriotic principles, nor of America. He would have taken a good night’s sleep and got up in the morning eager to find new directions and new opportunities for the way ahead.
Second, the conservative movement that Ronald Reagan created was generous and inclusive. Reagan welcomed brilliant African-American and Jewish intellectuals alike on to his team.
… Ronald Reagan was a social conservative and one of the greatest spokesmen for genuine moral values in the history of American politics. But he was never a bigot or a fool. He never outraged women or any other group by expressing ridiculous, offensive, or plain absurd sentiments.
… Ronald Reagan did not mindlessly worship youth or embody it. His mind and spirit were always young – always optimistic, intellectually curious and ready to challenge old orthodoxies from economics to national security. But he was almost 70 years old when he took the oath of office for the first time, the oldest American ever to do so.
Neither was Reagan afraid to change and adapt his policies to changing times. The Ronald Reagan who ended one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War by launching a new era of détente with Mikhail Gorbachev was not a different Reagan from the Reagan who had had fearlessly stood up to previous Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yury Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. It was the same Reagan. But when the Soviet leadership changed, he recognized when he needed to change his policies – never his principles – too.
… Like Dwight David Eisenhower, for a full eight years he brilliantly preserved peace through strength and wisdom when it seemed almost impossible to do.
… Reagan would not have despaired -- or even been disheartened -- by the national election results on Tuesday night. He would have been energized by them to seek out new opportunities. He would have sought to learn the right lessons and apply them. And he would not have let the architects of such a sweeping and comprehensive defeat get the chance to bang their heads against the same old brick walls and ever bury the conservative movement again.
Finally, Ronald Reagan would never have tried to turn the clock back to some mythical golden age before the New Deal, or before Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal or, for that matter, before the Bill of Rights. For him the true golden age was always ahead, and it was a privilege for him and the American people to strive to achieve it.