by Diane Rufino, August 24, 2018
I’d like to take a trip down memory lane, back to the time when Ronald Reagan was president, when most Americans admired our leader, trusted him, and felt comforted and safe knowing he was in charge. He had class and a certain gentility, yet also having a backbone to stand up for our country’s values and to stand firm on his moral convictions.
Ronald Reagan should be a role model for all Americans. He was civil and polite and even if he disagreed with you, you felt that it could never shake the bonds of friendship or make him have any less respect for you. For him, government served a purpose and that purpose was clear and limited. To view it any other way was to sacrifice individual liberty and to diminish its security. He believed our country was founded on individual liberty to secure individual liberty. Yet he was fully aware that government belongs and serves all citizens and it is their voice, at the ballot box, that sets its course.
In looking at Reagan’s entertainment and then his public service career, we see that he refused to be defined by a particular political party, looking instead to see which party supported the best policies, which party best served the American people and furthered the safety and security of the country. As most people know, he started off as a Democrat but later switched to the Republican Party.
In 1986, speaking at a fundraiser for Illinois Governor James Thompson (running for the US Congress), Reagan recounted a conversation he had in the White House with a man, Jim O’Grady, who went through a similar political transition, or transformation. He said:
“When he was at the White House, Jim said to me, ‘The great Democratic Party of my father’s and grandfather’s time just doesn’t exist anymore. Mr. President, I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me. That’s why I switched parties.’ And I said, ‘Jim, join the crowd.’”
He went on to share the experience of the great Winston Churchill:
“I know how tough it can be to change parties. I was working for Republican candidates for some time before I changed my registration. But for anyone who’s concerned about, and thinking about doing, that, I think Winston Churchill—when he changed parties, was a member of Parliament in England. And he answered a question as to why. He said, ‘Some men change principle for party, and some change party for principle.’”
There was a time when the Democratic Party still stood for solid principles and policies.
Being an actor and president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, it would have been very unusual for Ronald Reagan not to be a Democrat. As we all know, Hollywood has been historically Democratic. Most likely, he used his political affiliation only to enhance his own interests, and the Democrat Party was more suited to his own personal advancements in the Hollywood business industry.
Once Ronald Reagan became more successful as a businessman than he actually was as an entertainer and became more involved in politics, it seems he realized that while the Democrat Party was good to address the plight and situation of certain groups of individuals, it was not looking out for the best interest of the country or American citizens as a whole. He realized, despite the policies of the Democratic Party to “take care of people,” at their core, the policies did more harm than good – for both those they intended to help, for taxpayers, and for the rest of Americans. For all the spending that Democrats did on entitlement programs, there was little good to show for it; in fact, the policies did little to actually further individual success, dignity, or advancement, and rather created a problem of dependency, inferiority, and victimhood. As Reagan would point out, entitlement policies were fraught with fraud, abuse, and dependency and they (more than anything else) were enabling government to become larger and larger, something he had always viewed with great skepticism. He found it inconsistent that a country that calls itself free could allow the federal government to have increasing control and influence on citizens’ everyday lives.
Ronald Reagan became a Republican.
Reagan officially switched political parties in 1962, although some say that he wanted to do so even as far back as 1952, when he threw his support for Dwight D. Eisenhower and his running-mate, Richard Nixon.
In fact, in 1964, being asked to speak on behalf of presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater, Reagan delivered one of the most significant and famous speeches of all time – “A Time For Choosing.” In that speech he alluded to the choice Americans would have to make in the 1968 election — a choice for big government and less freedom or limited government and more freedom (“This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”)
With that speech, California Republicans took notice. They were impressed with his political views and his undeniable charisma. And so they nominated him as the Republican party candidate for Governor in 1966.
The rest is history. And to a great many Americans, he is sorely missed.
Like it or not, agree or disagree, President Trump is a lot like Reagan. Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump started off as a Democrat. That makes sense…. he’s a New Yorker. And like Reagan, Trump became more civic-minded once he achieved personal wealth… once he came to understand all the intricacies of how businesses are affected by government policies; how wealth is created.
Both men gravitated to party that allows American citizens to have greater opportunities to control their own destinies rather than be made to be dependent on government agencies.
But most of all, both men heeded the call of the time, to rally a people to change a disastrous course that its government was on. In fact, the situation presented to both men is incredibly similar. One just needs to continue reading Reagan’s remarks at that 1986 fundraiser event to note the similarities:
“As you may know, I went to Eureka College. That’s a little bit to the south and west of here. And I’ll never forget graduation day, when the president of the school handed me my diploma. He asked me a question that really stuck in my mind. He asked, ‘Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?’ Well, I’ve posed that question myself a few times since.
There was a time, and not so long ago, back in 1980, when the American people had to answer that question with a big, resounding ‘NO!’ The complete mismanagement of the party then in power had made an invalid of the once powerful giant of the American economy. After years of neglect, our proud military had fallen into disrepair and the mighty United States had become a whipping boy for penny-ante dictators and fanatics. A chorus of doom and gloom rose up from our opponents saying our best days were behind us and ringing down the curtain on America.
But you can be sure the American people never lost faith in our country. They knew that America’s best days were ahead of her, that the future was bright. And all they had to do was to clear out those people in Washington who were making such a mess of things. As usual, the American people were right. We came in and cut taxes, squashed inflation, unburdened the economy of needless regulations, heralding one of the longest peacetime expansions in history. Today there are actually 30,000 pages less in the Federal regulations than there were those few years ago. We built up our military, and around the world we spoke out loudly and clearly for freedom.
Today America is once again strong and united. Our economy is a powerhouse of economic growth and job creation, and we’ve regained our rightful place as leader of the free world. Now, there’s one change that makes me particularly proud: We have restored pride in the uniform of the military of the United States of America. Today’s recruits—and they’re all volunteers-are the most educated and some of the most highly motivated—simply the finest young men and women who have ever served their country. Indeed, we have a higher percentage of high school graduates in the military than we have ever had in our entire history, even with our wartime drafts. If we ever have to send them in harm’s way, I’m going to make sure they have the very best possible equipment that America can produce.
But it’s important to remember those dark days 5 ½ years ago, because the tax-and-spend crew is still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for a second chance. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party hasn’t changed; they’re as addicted as ever to big government, high taxes, and inflation. They’re just itching to repeal our tax cuts, to replace our opportunity society with a welfare state. And their foreign policy is still the same: slash defense and, when in doubt, always ‘blame America first.’ The Democratic leadership would chart the most dangerous course for a nation since the Egyptians tried a shortcut through the Red Sea. You have to think about that one for a minute. We can’t let America be paralyzed by a hostile Congress. We have too much yet to accomplish…
I’ve come here today to tell you that this election in 1986 will be a crucial moment of decision for our country. Will liberal policies return us to the days of malaise? Or will America continue down the road to progress? The answer to that question depends on one thing: [the people you elect]…..
I don’t have to tell you how important it is to have —– supporting our efforts to slim down the Federal bureaucracy and bring government back where it belongs: closer to the people. There are many people in Washington who have forgotten—or who want to forget this nation is a federation of sovereign States, and that is our basic strength……”
[Reference: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=37732 ]
Ronald Reagan brought us so much laughter and so much wisdom. He saw the defining issue of the day, laid it out crystal clear to the people of the United States, and put the country’s destiny in their hands. And as Reagan commented above: “The American people never lost faith in our country. They knew that America’s best days were ahead of her, that the future was bright. And all they had to do was to clear out those people in Washington who were making such a mess of things.”
And Donald Trump did the very same thing. Drain the Swamp. Make America Great Again. The American people knew that it was DC getting in the way of the country’s greatness and the ability of people to get ahead.
I hope when people step into the ballot box in November, they remember Ronald Reagan and they realize the hope of the country lies within them, in their ability to appreciate what America needs to continues to be her greatest self and their willingness to make the right choices. I hope they think back to Ronald Reagan and his path to finding his political identity, and especially to the criteria he used in finding that identity.
Conservatives, we may not have the mainstream media on our side, and we may not have those with the loudest platforms on our side, and we may not have the courts on our side, but if we want to do the right thing for our country, we need to use the one thing we do have….. the ballot box.
As usual, the American people were right. We came in and cut taxes, squashed inflation, unburdened I hope everyone asks the right questions when they step into the ballot box
Remarks given by President Ronald Reagan at a Fundraiser for Gov. James R. Thompson, Jr., in Rosemont, Illinois (April 12, 1986) – http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=37732
Video: Ronald Reagan’s Humor over the Years — https://www.facebook.com/diane.rufino.7/videos/10215249902793014/