The Goldwater/Reagan Eras – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Still Ahead

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died Sunday at the age of 94.
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died Sunday at the age of 94.

The death of former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, brought up memories.  On Sunday, Mrs. Reagan passed away Sunday, at age 94, seemingly putting a final stamp on the end of an era.  Sadly however, the Ronald Reagan Era ended long ago. What’s next for the conservative movement?  To find the answer, one must look to the past.

Today’s generation of students, (K-12, and even Millennials) only know the Reagan Presidency via the history books or by oral history passed down by their parents or often, the liberal media. But those of us from the generations who came of age in the 1960s and the 1980s must teach them what it was like to be a true conservative, rather than solely an economic conservative, or a so-called “libertarian/conservative”.   They are our children and grandchildren.

Two generations of young people were lucky enough to cut their political teeth during these eras.  The Baby Boomers, who reached high school, college age, and young adult hood during the early 1960s, and their children, the Generation Xers, who did the same during the 1980s.

We Gen Xers were fortunate enough to have the experience of the conservative Boomers as our teachers and our guides.  Now we must guide the next generation, who are ready to hear something good, instead of the negative.

Brief Overview of the Modern Conservative Movement

The modern conservative movement in the Republican party started in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

2016-logoIn 1960, 90 young conservatives came together to draft the Sharon Statement,  which set down a series of principles for the conservative movement. The also founded Young Americans for Freedom, to serve as an organization for conservative activists.  Phyllis Schafly, William F. Buckley, George Dunlop (later aide to Sen. Jesse Helms), conservative fundraiser Marvin Liebman, Brent Bozell, M. Stanton Evans, and so many others were key players of the era.

The young conservatives considered forming a third party and drafting a Presidential candidate, but instead chose to fight the “establishment” in the Republican Party at the time, and drafted Barry Goldwater as their man.  Though Senator Goldwater did not win, the movement continued as the YAF’s membership grew into adulthood and continued with their careers.  It was a heady time to be a conservative.

Ronald Reagan was working for General Electric during this era, and working what he termed “The Mashed Potato Circuit”, as he traveled the nation, giving a series of speeches.  He often spoke to businessmen’s luncheons (only men in those days) and Republican Party dinners.  His name ID grew and gave a nationally televised speech on Goldwater’s behalf, A Time for Choosing.

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 1988, file photo President Ronald Reagan waves to onlookers as he arrived in Palm Springs, Calif. If your're a fan of former President Ronald Reagan and you live in Wisconsin, you'll get a new day starting next winter to celebrate. A provision in the state budget that takes effect July 1, 2011, establishes Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day. It's a symbolic measure to celebrate the Gipper's birthday and has no impact on state spending. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)
President Ronald Reagan: Dec. 29, 1988 (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Reagan become a two-term Governor of California, first elected in 1966.  By 1976, he was ready to run for the highest office in the land, but the nation was not quite ready for him.  In 1980, his time came and he was elected in a landslide over sitting President Jimmy Carter.  The Reagan Era had begun and young conservatives like me were ready for him.

Because President Reagan brought hope and optimism to the American people, young people couldn’t help but be carried along.  Membership in conservative groups soared.  The College Republicans became a force to be reckoned with, even being lead nationally by a young North Carolinian, David Miner.  Generation Xers came of age in a time of great hope that America’s best days were ahead.  We worked hard, fought off the moderates, and elected conservatives.  Then, eight years later, Mr. Reagan’s second term ended and he left office.

Today, it seems that Millennials and students don’t have a lot of hope for.  We’ve had the non-smiling President Barak Obama as President for over 7 years.  The nation seems to be in a fog.  Our military has shrunk. Welfare roles have increased.  The role of the family has been de-emphasized and  we tell our enemies our plans via the media.  Government is larger than ever in it’s history. The FCC, like other Executive Branch Departments, has overreached its authority with Net Neutrality.  Debt continues to add at an alarming rate.  We are no longer a force for good in the world, or at home.

It’s a sad time…or is it?

The Hon. George Dunlop
The Hon. George Dunlop

At the Conservative Leadership Conference, (sponsored by the Civitas Institute), I was fortunate enough to hear a Baby Boomer-age leader speak.  George Dunlop discussed the 1976 Reagan-Ford primary, and North Carolina’s importance in it.  He also talked about the conservative movement, it’s future, and why there IS hope.

The self-described right-hand-man of the late Senator Jesse Helms brought up a topic from the bible that made me reconsider that America’s Best Days are behind us.  Normally, conservatives are optimists and tend to be generally happy people, but our current president has managed to squish the last bastions of it from me, and others like me.

While in the U.S. Senate, Jesse Helms never gave up, even when he was alone in his beliefs.  Today, we must use the example of Sen. Helms and President Reagan to motivate us to rally, work hard, and share conservative visions with high school and college students.  We must encourage them to work hard, and share this vision with their peers.  We also must work to bring home now-forgotten evangelical vote, just as Helms did.

Mr. Dunlop then stated something profound:

The Lord never fails to preserve a remnant of the people.  He will always preserve a remnant so that conservatives can rise up and become conservative again, just like the Israelites did.  We don’t need everyone.  Just a remnant.

Get these people to work hard.  Recruit people as delegates to the conventions that are true conservatives, not these libertarian/conservatives or moderate conservatives.  We must go to our county conventions, district conventions, and our state convention with people who are like ourselves.  “Spend the time and effort to get credentialed” and others like us credentialed.

That’s how we win.  That’s why we have hope.  The Lord preserved a remnant.  While many were running away to become libertarian/”conservative”, the remnants didn’t.  It’s time.  It’s time for us to rise up and re-energize the conservative movement.

 

Note: My own parents are boomers who cast their very first vote for President for Barry Goldwater in 1964. (The voting age was 21 back then.)  I was fortunate enough to go through high school and college during the 1980s.)

Not All Republicans Are Conservative Says Heritage Action For America

Heritage Action for America is the Grassroots arm of the Heritage Foundation
Heritage Action for America is the Grassroots arm of the Heritage Foundation

During my thirty cumulative years being active in GOP politics, I’ve always known that not all Republicans are conservative.  There have been the liberal Rockefeller Republicans, for example, that conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly fought in the 60s and 70s.  Those liberal Republicans have been supplanted by the libertarian Republicans.  We conservatives have resorted to calling ourselves “true conservatives” to distinguish ourselves.

Most “libertarian” Republicans who consider themselves conservative.  I’m speaking of true conservatives.  The libertarians in our party are trying to control our party and do so in many states.

A true conservative is a social/religious and fiscal conservative.  The others are just libertarians who only support abortion, 2nd amendment issues, and perhaps school choice.

A true conservative  supports the party platform on social issues, in addition to the  fiscal.  In short, fiscally, we that we believe in government, but only necessary government.  We oppose the vast expansions of the Obama administration.

For example, currently up for consideration is a four-year extension of Amtrak.  The bill promises rehabilitation to some parts of Amtrak’s food and beverage service.  But, that would only be in five years, one year after the current bill expires.  Practically, that overhaul would never occur because Amtrak would not have any incentive to begin work on it to retain its Federal subsidy.

I have used and enjoyed Amtrak and have ridden it from my home in Raleigh to Washington, DC many times.  It’s a good deal….too good of a deal. This for-profit corporation that has gotten many millions in government subsidies over the years.  Please call your Representative and ask him or her to vote no on the Amtrak funding extension.

According to the Heritage Action For America,  most Republicans currently serving in Congress (House and Senate) nationally, only support tweaking programs, not deleting, replacing or overhauling them completely.  These people must find new jobs in their districts and cease to serve in the House and Senate.

NOTES:

1.  My Member of Congress, Rep. George Holding (NC-13) is considered by many to be a conservative.  But after checking Heritage Action’s scoring, he’s only 79 percent with us!

He, and the others like him, need to be educated about issues of concern to true conservatives.  We don’t need to berate him on social media.  Please stand with us and encourage him not to support the House GOP leadership.  We need real reform, not tweaks.

2.  The libertarian Republicans are simply trying to steal the moniker “conservative” from those in which it truly belongs.  We true conservatives can work with the libertarian Republicans on many issues, such as certain fiscal issues..