The Republican Party & the Conservative Movement – On Losing

By Ronald Reagan
[Ronald Reagan wrote this piece for the December 1, 1964, issue of National Review, where it first appeared after the defeat of Barry Goldwater. It still holds true today.]

By now a new cliché has been added to the time-worn lit, but I know of no other way of comment on the election than to open with the by now familiar — “Well, it’s over and we lost.”
Yes, we did; we lost a battle in the continuing war for freedom, but our position is not untenable. First of all, there are 26 million of us and we can’t be explained away as diehard party faithfuls. We cross party lines in our dedication to a philosophy.
There are no plans for retreating from our present positions, but we can’t advance without reinforcements. Are reinforcements available? The answer is an unhesitating — “Yes!” They are to be found in the millions of so-called Republican defectors — those people who didn’t really want LBJ, but who were scared of what they thought we represented. Read that sentence very carefully because in my opinion it tells the story. All of the landslide majority did not vote against the conservative philosophy; they voted against a false image our Liberal opponents successfully mounted. Indeed it was a double false image. Not only did they portray us as advancing a kind of radical departure from the status quo, but they took for themselves a costume of comfortable conservatism. Read again their campaign fiction and you will find their normal flamboyant Liberalism hidden under the protective coloration of “the great society,” or as Hubert Horatio Humphrey (who can’t ask what time it is without conducting a filibuster) put it: “We don’t want a planned society — we want society planning.”
Unfortunately, human nature resists change and goes over backward to avoid radical change. It’s a head shaker, I know, but the whole Liberal apparatus which can be quoted ad infinitum on “the wave of the future, the need for new approaches to old problems, adopt new rules for complex new problems, forget the Constitution,” was able to campaign in a last-year’s model, singing, “The old songs — the old songs are good enough for me.”
Very shortly, though, they’ll bring the show into town for a four-year run, complete with a new score — words and music by Reuther, Joseph Rauh, and the “Great Society Chorale.” Time then for the music critics — that’s us. We must dwell unceasingly on the change of tune. Our job beginning now is not so much to sell conservatism as to prove that our conservatism is in truth what a lot of people thought they were voting for when they fell for the cornpone come-on.
In short — time now for the soft sell to prove our radicalism was an optical illusion. We represent the forgotten American — that simple soul who goes to work, bucks for a raise, takes out insurance, pays for his kids’ schooling, contributes to his church and charity and knows there just “ain’t no such thing as free lunch.”
I’ll add a postscript — I don’t think we should turn the high command over to leaders who were traitors during the battle just ended.

16 thoughts on “The Republican Party & the Conservative Movement – On Losing”

  1. “I don’t think we should turn the high command over to leaders who were traitors during the battle just ended.”

  2. Cigar Mike, perhaps you are aware that Gov Palin is coming to Miami today and will be here for 2 days attending the Rep Governor’s Association dinner…I am trying to organize a support rally.
    Make no mistake the Obamunists will be out in full force to attempt to make her feel uncomfortable in a county that voted 60% for HUSSEIN…
    Any interested parties can go to my blog and or contact me at:
    Let’s make the next POTUS feel welcomed in Miami.
    BTW, I now know what it is like, since I was born in Miami, to live in a socialist country, West Kendall looks like Havana or Pyongyang with the Obama Nation bumper stickers, signs, etc….even in McDonalds and Publix!!!

  3. The last line is indeed the most important. Carlos, I’m a fan of Palin and we should do everything we can to make her welcome but let’s not put the cart before the horse. She was McCain’s choice, not the choice of the GOP. The contenders for 2012 will emerge soon enough. I’m not saying Palin won’t be one of them but we need to hear more from her and the others.

  4. Great piece Henry, here’s my favorite line: “All … did not vote against the conservative philosophy; they voted against a false image our Liberal opponents successfully mounted.” It’s still information warfare, and that’s the only way they can win in a nation that’s majority center-right when it comes to political/economic/social philosophy. As for Palin, I’m upset at her recent attack on the Bush policies. I’m tired of Republicans and conservatives that assisted the liberal/left in their effective campaign to demonize this Administration. You can’t fight a powerful liberal/left establishment by stabbing each other in the back, it’s absolutely suicide when you don’t have control of the information environment. Lets stop the senseless bickering, unite, and get our message out before the mid-terms.

  5. Mambi,
    You may be tired of conservative’s attacks on the current administration but reality is that performance is what counts for the American people.
    I don’t think that our comments are stabbing on the back of this administration. This administration earned its current reputation.
    For starters I think that President Bush forgot what it is to be a Ronald Reagan republican in his policies and became a RINO instead and totally managed to betray his Republican base.
    It pains me to say this, but George W. Bush is no Ronald Reagan Republican.
    The responsibility for mismanaging of the Iraqi war rests on President Bush’s shoulders, period; there is no escape from this fact.
    The same goes for the uncontrolled spending that has wrecked our economy for the last 8 years.
    I do agree that we should have gone into Iraq but, having said that I believe that when you send our soldiers into harms way you don’t play games with it because the American people will be quickly disenchanted very much the way they did during the Viet-Nam conflict.
    The American people want their wars quick, the moment you start turning them into a bloody quagmires there is a political price to pay.
    Unfortunately the way Donald Rumsfeld managed the war qualified him for dismissal way before he was eventually fired. By that time he was canned the damaged was already done to this administration no matter the surge’s success as a strategy in the conflict.
    President Bush has no one to blame but himself for allowing his Secretary of Defense and his subordinates to make the mess of a conflict that this Iraqi War turned out to be.
    I said in another post that I feel that President Bush surrounded himself with too many idiotic aides that made way too many mistakes and President Bush stuck to them for way too long when he should have canned them therefore damaging his administration’s legacy.
    The fact that Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose plus the war in Afghanistan still giving us problems does not help the current administration either as is perceived that it cannot finish conflicts.
    Sarah Paulin is right to say that this administration total embracement of the status quo is the main reason that today the Marxist-Anti-American bullshit artist is our new President elect.
    This is a fact, not backstabbing as the buck rests on the President Bush shoulder’s for not aggressively standing-up to the liberals while tackling this country’s many economic and energy problems (to name a few) because he was not proactive enough on finding a solution (as he should have) before these problems became the unmanageable mess they are today.
    Instead President Bush let these problems accumulate while the American people became impatient with the status quo and this situation ruined the Republican candidate’s chances during last week’s elections.
    Make no mistake, the buck stops at the current administration front desk because the American people rightly perceived that is has not performed properly. The consequences were the results of last Tuesday’s elections. I witness this fact way too many times for the last 30+ years I lived in America.
    The American people bought the big bullshit line of “CHANGE” because they were totally frustrated with the current situation.
    I feel that the only major accomplishment that we can give President Bush after 8 years in office is that we have not being attacked again, and that we have two new conservative appointees in the Supreme Court, that it.
    I sincerely feel that President Bush could have accomplished much more than that during his term in office and that his legacy will be that of an underachiever.

  6. One last comment,
    What America and the free world needs more than ever is a Ronald Reagan conservative pit-bull at the helm of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
    We’ll see when we’ll get it.

  7. FFC: Dude, you’re way off. The “administration earned its current reputation”? Man, you’ve bought into the liberal/left hype.
    Domestically, he gave us our money back, and we spent it in a way that energized the economy to the point that unemployment was at 4.4% not so long ago. GDP growth was decent and everyone seemed happy, until oil prices went up (not his fault) and the housing market collapsed (not his fault either, unless you wanted government intervention/manipulation).
    Yea, federal expenditures went up, but most of that was for the war! It’s disingenuous to say “we haven’t been attacked since 9/11” and then go on to tear apart his war strategy. War is never perfect, and Iraq was no different. Sure, some things could have been handled better, but I doubt anyone else could have done much better, especially not a friggin pussy Democrat. And if Rumsfeld held back on sending in more folks it’s because the administration was constantly on the defensive against attacks from the Left, plus an in-bread American, Western aversion to seeing people die in wars (i.e., he wanted to send in the minimum amount to do the job). I’m not inclined to break down the two wars and tell you why and why not things were done the way they were. But, first: putting a bazillion troops into Afghanistan would not fix the problem (remember the Soviets?), and killing Bin Laden will not end the threat, it’s absolutely naive to think so. He’s strictly a symbol right now, his death will be a nice psychological coup, but it won’t end the threat of Islamic extremism. Second, going into Iraq was a bold, strategic move intended to hopefully shape the Middle East so we wouldn’t have anymore 9/11’s. It’s been painful, but time will prove it was necessary. BTW, you use “quagmire”, which is exactly what the liberal/left wanted us to believe. Those of us who’ve been out there, know better, and realize that war is messy and sometimes we learn as we go along—and we’ve done that. One thing I will say, even this Republican administration has held back on the war effort instead of going ‘balls to the wall’ against the threat. I witnessed it in Afghanistan and was sickened by it. Unfortunately, they’ve been ‘pussy-wipped’ by the Left and are averse to letting the ‘dogs of war’ loose. Therefore, we fight with our hands tied behind our backs because of people like President-elect Obama, who are incapable of defending this country and do everything possible to undermine our effort. I just wish the administration had gotten ‘in their face’ over the past 4 to 5 years – it’s the only way to confront the Left.
    How come the media/pundits aren’t congratulating Bush now that gas is down to $2.20 and Iraq appears to be succeeding? Some mistakes were made, but not to the level the Left has brought it, and it pains me to see our own side suckered in and piling on the corpse. It’s wrong, stupid, and counter-productive to our cause! Sorry, but I’ll part ways with you on this one.

  8. I’ll tell you why the Republicans are in the shape they are in: They are hired to run a gov. and not to beat up a pin~ata…

  9. Mambi – you don’t fund a war (TWO wars!) by cutting taxes. W became a borrow and spend President, just slightly better than a tax and spend President. Americans should feel some type of sacrifice when we are fighting 2 wars! If a war is not worth sacrificing even a little at home, then it is not worth sending our best to die over either. Even McCain complained about the tax cuts initially. Why? Because as a military man, he recognized that doing that during a time of war sent the wrong signal. I happen to agree, as apparently did most Americans. I voted for McCain, but I am disappointed in W.

  10. Cangrejo: Jimminy Crickets, I can’t let this die. He cut taxes to grow the economy, which leads to more revenue, unfortunately it’s not enough to cover all the costs of a war! So, your suggestion is to tax the living be-Jesus out of the populace to support the war. Yea, make it hurt, sounds good on the surface, but it’s not enough and wholly counter-productive. I’m tired of hearing about deficit spending in the middle of a war. What if we’d taken that attitude during WWII? Bush has tried over the years to tell Americans that 9/11 was equivalent to Pearl Harbor and the GWOT needed our total unflinching commitment. Unfortunately, we’re a society of spoiled whiners who aren’t prepared to sacrifice in order to defend ourselves. The majority of us have forgotten 9/11 and really could give shit anymore. Hell, we’re too concerned about our next Disney vacation, or the new SUV, or the shopping spree at the mall, or how I’m going to get laid this weekend. Our focus should be on defending our culture, society, and our freedoms, they really are threatened, but most of us don’t want to deal with it. Fuck the deficit! Spend whatever is necessary to defeat those extremists who want to destroy us, otherwise, 9/11 will look like kids play compared to what awaits us.

  11. Fellas the main reason we have the huge deficits today is not because of the war (at least not directly). As Barack Obama has told us five million times the war is cost $10 billion a month or $120 a year. We have a $2.7 Trillion budget.
    Federal income tax revenues went up by something like 40% during the bush years despite (or really because of) cuts in marginal rates.
    Laffer Curve 101.
    The runaway spending has been domestic spending on entitlements. The medicare prescription drug program bush passed is an expensive boondoggle. The fact is that this president wasn’t popular enough or have enough political capital to veto wasteful spending sent up to the white house by the GOP congress that ruled for 6 years.

  12. Mambi,
    Trust me; I have not bought into the liberal lefty line at all. If there is something I cannot stand at all is the liberals and its current movement.
    But I don’t blind or try to blind myself (as you certainly do) to the many mistakes that President Bush has made during his tenure in office.
    By the way I voted for him twice because it was the lesser of the two evils, but definitely he could have been a much better President and squandered the opportunity allowed to him by history.
    I know that he inherited a hell of a mess left over by previous administrations (not only Clinton’s). Having said that, I feel that great leaders thrive under these very difficult set of circumstances handed to them and find the way to implement the right solutions.
    That’s what true leaders are made of.
    It is just that I definitely don’t put President Bush on a pedestal that he does not belong, that simple.
    But I do feel that this administration many mistakes have made it extremely easy for the liberals to win this election.
    In his time, the great communicator Ronald Wilson Reagan presided with a Democratic Congress and a Republican Senate and with the total opposition of the MSM and the liberal groups. Yet he proceeded to overcome all that opposition and implement his agenda for America.
    That fact alone speaks volumes for Ronald Wilson Reagan political abilities, personal charisma and oratory skills that enabled him to bring the American people to his side of the political agenda regardless of the odds stacked against him. Unfortunately President Bush does not posses these abilities.
    That’s why Ronald Wilson Reagan has become a political icon in America respected not only by Republicans and by many on the Democratic side of the fence and there will never be one like him in our lifetime.
    Actually now that you say that I have bought into the liberal line I post one to you that you might not expect from me.
    I personally feel that there is a big lefty conspiracy financed by many wealthy and powerful individuals here and abroad to implement a political system in this country that goes against America’s mainstream values.
    I also feel that there are many accomplices to this conspiracy that don’t have a clue the consequences to America and the free world if this new political system succeeds; and this is the one main reason behind Barack Hussein Obama’s raise to power.

  13. Mambi,
    You witnessed how the US held back on its effort on the war on terror and not go “balls to the wall” approach against our enemies.
    To me that was a horrendous blunder made by this administration. They should have learned that lesson from the Viet-Nam conflict.
    Plus I agree with you that many Americans have already forgotten about 9-11 and this fact makes me sick.
    To me this is the main reason I feel President Bush should not held back on this war (regardless of what the left would have said and the opposition he would have faced) and let it prolong for so long.
    President Bush should have understood that fact from the very beginning of this war that the American people have lost the values that once had and that he had to act quickly in order to succeed because the people no longer have the stomach for long wars or the sense of patriotism and loyalty to America that previous generations had.

  14. Guys, we’re all on the same team. We’re pretty passionate, and that’s good right now. I still have disagreements with you guys about Bush and what may be the best approach to win. But, I’ll reiterate what FFC said about our populace not “having the stomach.” They don’t have the will to defend themselves and the majority love to be told they’re getting handouts; even though surveys show that this is a center-right nation. I’m telling you that going out there and trying to sell the pure conservative philosophy won’t get it done. I love Reagan, but he benefited from a total fuck-up like Carter, and was fairly charismatic (unlike Bush). Bush tried to be ‘nice’ by taking care of seniors, and I can’t fault him for that (compassionate conservatism). Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress took it from there and obviously went haywire, along with the Democrats. But why did we lose Congress in 2006?–the polls said IRAQ; not because Bush and others tried to be ‘nice’ to their constituents by doling out money. Do you really believe most Americans are going to vote out a guy because he spends money on them? Come on; like I said, even though most Americans consider themselves conservative, they still love to be handed goodies like subsidized medicine, mortgages, education, and anything else you can think of. Once again, I’m on your side, and I’m disgusted with what happened on Nov 4th and want nothing more than to return this country to what I consider the decent, hardworking, God-fearing, responsible, courageous philosophy that made it great. However, unless Obama and his leftist friends screw up big-time, we’re going to have a tough time selling pure conservative principles as our salvation—not to this ignorant, ill-informed populace. We need to pick a conservative theme that will resonate with that majority center-right mindset, and then pound it into them. Then, we may have a chance, and only if we have someone that can effectively ‘sell’ the product. Look, I’m fairly practical and believe that the ‘ends justify the means’. So, lets do what’ll get us into power, then we can try and implement our conservative ideals. Lastly, ‘Information is Power’; that’s why for the past 4 to 5 years I’ve dreamed of Bush conducting casual ‘fireside chats’ on TV, where he calmly and simply explained his decisions to the populace (i.e. layman’s language, so they could understand). I believe our message, properly presented, is so commonsensical that most Americans would have understood…too bad.
    Great discussion guys, keeps me sharp.

  15. Mambi,
    Don’t you worry; I’m certain that in much less than four years the American people will move again to the right as the Marxist-Anti-American bullshit artist takes the mask off and makes an even bigger mess than Jimmy Carter did.
    When this event takes place we’ll see who’ll emerge from the Republican Party as the leading figure capable of carrying the Ronald Wilson Reagan legacy into the 21st century.
    We’ll watch history unfold right before our eyes.

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