Reagan Betrayed: Are Conservatives Fumbling His Legacy?

By Norquist, Grover G.; Reagan, Michael et al. | Policy Review, July-August 1997 | Go to article overview

Reagan Betrayed: Are Conservatives Fumbling His Legacy?


Norquist, Grover G., Reagan, Michael, Gramm, Phil, Reed, Ralph, Abrams, Elliott, Bauer, Gary L., Keating, Frank, Lott, Trent, Cox, Christopher, Beasley, David, Miller, James C., Armey, Richard K., McIntosh, David, Kirkpatrick, Jean, Policy Review


What can conservatives today learn most from Ronald Reagan? Which features of Reagan's legacy (his principles, his rhetoric, his policies, his leadership style) are conservatives today most in danger of forgetting or betraying? Policy Review asked these questions of several of the conservative movement's top leaders.

-- Grover G. Norquist --

Before Ronald Reagan, great men like Whittaker Chambers said and believed that conservatives were on the "losing side of history." In the 1950s, Bill Buckley said that the task of conservatives was to "stand athwart history and yell 'stop.' " From Ronald Reagan, conservatives have learned optimism and dis- covered they are on the winning side of history.

Today, conservatives know that it is Marxism-Leninism that is in the dustbin of history, and we march with confidence against the welfare state. Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Trent Lott move to abolish the capital-gains tax and the death tax and propose a single-rate tax on income or retail sales. Every conservative knows that we will win radical tax reform and reduction as soon as we elect a president who will sign the bill. The flow of history is with us. Our victories can be delayed, but not denied. This is the change wrought by Ronald Reagan.

But conservative leaders sometimes forget that one of Reagan's great strengths was his ability to remain in visionary mode. He called for tax cuts, then left it to staffers such as James Baker to negotiate and compromise as needed to get a tax cut through Congress. Reagan himself never spoke about compromises. When one Republican leader was quoted recently as saying that conservatives lacked the votes to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, the press misconstrued the statement as a retreat from efforts to defund the NEA. Leaders should keep their eyes on the goal and leave such comments to their staffs.

Conservatives should also remember Reagan's willingness to repeat his mes- sage-over and over again. Active minds find it difficult to repeat, in speech after speech, the conservative goals of lower taxes, less regulation, and smaller government. But when you give the speech for the 100th time, there will be someone in the audience who is hearing it for the first time. Younger voters are always being introduced to the conservative message.

Conservatives are repeating one important error of the 1980s. During the Reagan years, conservative activists often complained that they would win the day if only the president would focus on their issue of concern long enough to make a few phone calls or send out a letter or have a meeting. This, of course, was true. A president can win any small battle in which he engages. But there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of possible problems to solve. We complained about what Reagan or his underlings failed to do for us. Now some conservatives are falling into the same trap, as they complain that we could win issue X if Gingrich or Lott won it for us. Whining about Gingrich or Lott is no substitute for doing the hard work of fighting these battles ourselves.

-- Michael Reagan --

On the day he was inaugurated, my father placed his hand on his mother's well-worn Bible and took the presidential oath of office. His hand rested on 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If My people who are called by My name will humble them- selves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

America certainly needed healing that day. We had endured a long national nightmare: the Iranian hostage crisis, double-digit inflation, and entrenched pessimism. Our economy was in ruins. Our hollow military seemed no match for the Soviet power that threatened the globe.

But the next eight years changed all that.

Ronald Reagan had long known what he intended to do in office. In 1976, he wrote a newspaper column, "Tax Cuts and Increased Revenue," that foreshadowed supply-side Reaganomics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reagan Betrayed: Are Conservatives Fumbling His Legacy?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.