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.)

Moral Monday Union Backs Roy Cooper, Others

images-2It’s true, the so-called “Moral Monday” backers, the AFL-CIO, have issued endorsements.  Shamefully, they have endorsed Roy Cooper for Governor.

Cooper has never stood up for North Carolina values, instead preferring to bury his head in the sand over issues like Obamacare. Cooper is the probable Democrat nominee to run against Governor Pat McCrory.

According to the Civitas Institute, The Moral Monday agenda would cost taxpayers $10 billion, forcing a tax increase of $4,000 on every family of four.

“Estimates now reach an eye-popping $10 billion to pay for the “people’s agenda.” That would mark a whopping 50 percent increase in the state budget. To fund the “Moral Monday” demands would cost every man, woman in child in North Carolina roughly an additional $1,000. That amounts to adding another $4,000 in taxes to the tax bill of each family of four.” (“Moral Monday Price Tag Grows – Now at $10 Billion,” Civitas Institute, 6/10/2014)

Ricky Diaz, Pat McCrory for Governor spokesman, said, “Roy Cooper’s backing by the unions is no surprise, given they have bankrolled protests and relentless attacks against Governor McCrory to obstruct his efforts to rebuild North Carolina since day one.

But now that they have formally endorsed him, Roy Cooper completely owns their radical, pro-union Moral Monday agenda, which seeks to end the state’s right-to-work laws, increase the size of the state budget by 50% and increase taxes on each family in North Carolina by $4,000.”

The AFL-CIO has also endorsed Deborah Ross for US Senate, and Charles Meeker for Labor Commissioner..

AFP’s Bryson: Support Economic Freedom

Donald Bryson is President of the NC Chapter of Americans for Prosperity
Donald Bryson is President of the NC Chapter of Americans for Prosperity

We must get out there and push our message, seemed to be the overall message at the Friday morning session.   That goes along with the official theme of this Conservative Leadership Conference, “Unleashing Freedom”.

Donald Bryson, NC Director of the Americans for Prosperity (AFP), said his group is the largest grassroots organization in the nation.  In North Carolina, they have over 192,0oo activists, he said and they know how to push the message.

Bryson said AFP doesn’t “do drugs or guns” but they support economic freedom.  One such issue is Educational Freedom, and this was repeated by many speakers throughout the day.

Bryson told his audience,

in 2013 we brought in a new Governor, a new Lt. Governor, and continued with our conservative state legislature.  Thanks to them and to the AFP activists, we now have the state’s first voucher program.   That means more educational freedom for children and more choices for parents.”

Bryson did not mince words when he said that they his group will “hit an elected official over the head”, proverbially speaking, when they make a poor decision.

He added that the “middle way is no way.”

Those who waffle about in the middle, Republicans included, are not popular with AFP  The non-partisan group is thrilled educational partnership that teaches the issues so people can speak to their elected officials.

By appearing at town halls, and writing letters, grassroots can stop bad legislation or encourage their elected  officials to support AFP causes.

He closed by urging the audience to work to stop the “Certificate of Need” in North Carolina.

Raleigh, for example,  has used it as a way around voting for an unpopular bond issue to build or purchase something the citizens do not want.  That way they can use a law that was meant to purchase emergency equipment, like fire engines, to get their liberal agenda accomplished..

Conservative Leadership Conference Starts Strong

CLC has started off strong.  Photo: K. Benningfield

If you live in North Carolina and enjoy seeing the best conservative speakers, the Conservative Leadership Conference is the place to be.

Presidential Candidate, Rick Santorium and South Carolina Atty Gen. Alan Wilson gave rousing talks  Photo: K Benningfield
Presidential Candidate, Rick Santorium and South Carolina Atty Gen. Alan Wilson gave rousing talks Photo: K Benningfield

The 10th annual gathering, sponored by the Civitas Institute sold out, so it’s too late to attend this year.

There is so much press here that there was no room for the NC Beagle Watchdog‘s television camera.  Plus the Friday morning session, was packed.

With speakers such as presidential candidate Rick Santorum, state director of Americans for Prosperity Donald Bryson, NC Lt. Governor Dan Forest, and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

We’ll have more on each speaker in our next post.

Outside the conference is where much of the action is.  I’ve run into people working for candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.  I’ve watched live shots on Time Warner Channel 14 and seen many old friends, while meeting a lot of new people.  I’m thrilled to have these new people in our movement.

Tammy Fitzgerald
Tammy Fitzgerald

Also good to hear were social conservatives.  Tammy Fitzgerald, state director of the NC Values Coalition met with officials and was a large presence.

Others weren’t afraid to talk about how government has ruined the family by legalizing gay marriage, allowed gender confusion to continue, and by allowing abortions late into a pregnancy.

I even ran into my old pal,political columnist,  John Fund   Good to have here also is probably the world’s nicest person, Don Irvine.  Don is the runs Accuracy in Media and it’s great to have him down from the DC area.

Meanwhile, I’d like to personally thank the Civitas Institute’s Director of Technology and Outreach, Bill Gilbert, and Communications Director Jim Tynen  for all of their help.

Additionally, I appreciate the help of two special volunteers and I regret I didn’t get their names.  Kudos to these young men who are hardworking high school students and the future of our movement!

More to come….