Ronald Reagan not only knew he needed to sell the value of conservative principles to America in 1981, he knew he could and he hungered to do so.
The comparison between the optimism of Reagan and today’s self-proclaimed conservatives could not be starker. It was Ronald Reagan who, in 1975, defined the manner in which we conservatives define ourselves:
“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”
As we watch and listen to the GOP today, are we seeing bold colors or are we seeing pale pastels?
Ours is a time where our leaders seem to find defining our principles as troubling. They almost want to sound liberal, to cow-tow and to placate, as if embarrassed to speak with bold colors.
Ronald Reagan not only knew he had to sell the principles of conservative, he relished doing so. He found pleasure and delight in setting forth conservative propositions.
Here are four ways Ronald Reagon sold the value of conservative principles?
The Principles of Conservatism were not Theories
Reagan believed the principles of conservativism were real, not theories. He did not feel the need to call for experimentation in order to validate conservative precepts.
The principles conservatives believe are rooted, not in social science, and government test tubes, but in the nature of God and man.
Small government, liberty, and our unalienable rights are bestowed, not discovered. Inherently, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are etched in every man’s heart. This is what makes them true, relevant and contemporary, never dependent upon government to validate them.
Ours is a time in history where social theory, experimentation, and utopian dreams should be over-powered by the facts of conservative principles.
The Principles of Conservatism are about Life, not Politics
To Ronald Reagan, life was to be lived by applying conservative principles to everyday living. Big government wants to artificially create edicts to govern society. We know these to be laws and regulations.
Politicians want to create guidelines for living. They want to deliver their feeble notions of how we ought to live life. Mostly, they tilt the playing field to feed and empower the government to exercise fake authority and power to obligate us to a life they define.
In Ronald Reagan’s life, politics had a place far removed from his internal commitment to living life as a conservative.
The principles of conservatism are found in the way conservatives live, think, work, problem solve and address the inevitable joys and hardships of life.
Ours is a lifestyle and politics, although involving the mechanics of social order, have nothing to do with what and why we do what we do.
The Principles of Conservatism Actually Work in the Real World
This leads us to the third way Ronald Reagan sold the value of conservative principles. He knew the principled actually work in real life.
Reagan knew that people who are motivated by the gains associated with independence, hard work, ingenuity, opportunities to better themselves and the creation of wealth by their own initiative, will accomplish more than dependent people.
America is a nation built upon the principles of conservatism applied to real life in a real world. Working hard works. Being motivated by the opportunity for gain works. Having personal dreams works. Being responsible for one’s own life and is outcomes works. Having the liberty to come and go, to worship or not worship, to assemble, to speak one’s mind, works.
Ronald Reagan could sell conservative values to Tip O’Neil because the values conservatives hold dear work.
Ours is a nation needing renewal. The political class that pretends to be conservative could serve us better by realizing conservatism works.
The Principles of Conservatism Elevate People, they Don’t Enslave Them
Whenever the government does for us what ought to do and can do for ourselves we become servants of the state. The welfare state enslaves free men, trapping them in a self-defeating spiral of dependency.
Reagan knew government seldom elevates us to greater heights. History shows us that bad people, who control bad governments will almost always enslave the populace.
While the principles of conservatism elevate people, socialism enslaves. Marxism enslaves. Communism enslaves. All forms of dependency, when taken to their logical endpoint, enslave.
Why is this true? There is something buried deep within the heart and soul of each of us that causes us to yearn for liberty, to desire honor, to want to be elevated by the results of the lives we build.
This is the power of the principle of conservatism lived out.
Ours is a government largely engulfed in the sea of secular humanism. While our government pretends its policies will elevate people, most of its regulations are filled with barbs.
These are the four ways Ronald Reagan sold the principles of Conservatism.