Originally published: Feb 23, 2012 @ 16:03
Would you, as a voter with conservative values and principles, vote for a candidate who says the following?
- I will Raise Taxes 11 Times in 8 years
- I will Increase Government Spending
- I will Double or Triple the National Debt
- I will Increase the Size of Government
- I will Give Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants
- I will Negotiate & Make Deals with Terrorists or Tyrannical Regimes
The answer is a John Boehner-esque “Hell No!”.
Ask a group of Conservatives, “Who is your political hero?” Invariably, one name will spring to life as an answer to the question. That name, like the list of policies above, belongs to the 40th president of The United States, Ronald Reagan.
The problem with so many conservative voters today is that they hold President Reagan as their idol, and their idol did precisely the things that conservatives claim to be against. These modern “Conservative Principles” are also what gave rise to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich as presidential candidates. The atrocious record of Romney has been thoroughly placed in the public form, yet conservatives still support this guy.
Something is seriously wrong here.
Let’s start by looking at some of what “Reagan Conservatives” believe in, and comparing that to the actual results of Reagan’s Presidency:
Beliefs of Reagan Conservatives
- American Exceptionalism – The United States is an exceptional nation. No other country in the history of the world has done more to secure liberty and honor God-given rights of individuals. Our government is uniquely of, by, and for the people, not the other way around.
- Secure Borders – Legal immigrants have enriched this country. Illegal immigration undermines American sovereignty and weakens national security. The U.S. has a right and obligation to secure it’s borders.
- Strong Military – A strong military is a deterrent. The U.S. must maintain military superiority to ensure our security. The American military is made up of dedicated and patriotic individuals who deserve this nation’s full support.
- Energy Independence – For national security and economic reasons it is time that we as a nation become energy independent by exploiting all our natural resources responsibly while at the same time encouraging energy innovation.
- Individual Rights – The subjugation of individual rights in favor of groups rights is unconstitutional and has always lead to the trampling of individual freedom.
- Individual Responsibility – Individuals are responsible for their actions and the consequences. It is not government’s place to save individuals from their mistakes. This kind of government intervention only encourages irresponsible behavior and impinges on others’ rights.
- Limited Government - Thomas Jefferson was correct when he wrote: “That government is best which governs least.” Government should be limited to the powers delegated it by the Constitution. Beyond these powers, as government grows, individual freedom shrinks and the economy suffers.
- Low Taxes and Fiscal Constraint - Government redistribution of income through taxation is not constitutional. Individuals have a right to their income and are far better managers of their money than is the government. Free market solutions improve the economy while upholding individual freedoms.
Results of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency:
- American Exceptionalism - The term “American Exceptionalism” was first coined and used by Joseph Stalin – the communist Russian dictator responsible for the mass-death of millions of people – in statements regarding a Communist Revolution in America. This is the same style of Communist Russian Dictatorship that Reagan battled during “The Cold War”.
- Secure Borders/Individual Responsibility - Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted Amnesty to illegal immigrants
- Strong Military/National Defense – Reagan used the military as a “world police force” rather than a deterrent to attack on America. He ordered military action in Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, Honduras, Panama, and many actions in the Persian Gulf. The Reagan government is also reported (but unconfirmed by CIA) to have directly aided and funded Osama bin Laden in the 1980′s.
Reagan also negotiated a deal with the Iranian terrorists who held American hostages, by trading arms for hostages.
- Energy Independence – In 1981, Regan’s first year in office, the US imported 2,188,420,000 barrels of oil. By 1988, Reagan’s final year in office, imports increased to 2,709,140,000, after imports had dipped previously in the mid-80′s.
- Individual Rights/Adherence To Constitution – Throughout the Reagan presidency, the Supreme Court ruled that 9 acts of legislation were unconstitutional in whole, or in part.
- Limited Government - In Reagan’s first year, 1981, the US government spent $1.0518 Trillion. By Reagan’s last year in office, the government spent $1.7713 Trillion. Also, The national debt grew under Reagan as well, starting at $1,028,729,000,000 in 1981, and ballooning to $2,952,994,000,000 by January of 1989, when Reagan left office – almost triple what it started at.
Furthermore, in 1981 there were 4,982,000 government employees. By Reagan’s final year, 1988, the government employed 5,289,000 people – an increase of over 300,000 employees.
- Low Taxes - Ronald Reagan was not the tax-slashing president that many make him out to be. In fact, Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his presidency – which is contrary to the view that many purport of him.
If you are seeking smaller government, lower taxes, less government spending, strong national defense, and adherence to the US Constitution – why would you idolize Reagan?
The fallacy of Reagan, I believe, is that people allow the personality and charisma of “Ronald Reagan, The Man” to overshadow the actions of “Ronald Reagan, The President” – much like voters did with President Obama in 2008.
Conservatives must replace Ronald Reagan as their posterboy. It is time for conservatives to not only ‘talk-the-talk’, but it is high time that we ‘walk-the-walk’ as well. For Conservatives to truly change this country, things must change with conservatism. Not only should we support political candidates that actually adhere to conservative principles, but we must apply a face to the movement that does as well – a face that accurately represents the principles of conservatism.