Paul  Kengor
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Editor's note: Dr. Kengor will be a participant in an April 19-20 conference hosted by The Center for Vision & Values on “The Challenge 2012: The Divided Conservative Mind.”

February 6 was the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. It comes at an appropriate time. February is also the month of Presidents Day and the birthday of Lincoln, the other Republican standard-bearer. Every Republican presidential candidate tries to claim the mantle of Reagan: “I believe as Ronald Reagan believed….”

Well, what did Ronald Reagan believe? It’s a question I get often. I’ve been giving a lecture titled, “What is a Reagan conservative?” I’ll be giving it again at the CPAC conference on Feb. 11 and our Center for Vision & Values conference in April. In that lecture, I lay out the core fundamentals of “Reagan conservatism.”

Some of those fundamentals have special relevance in light of the ongoing scandal known as the “Obama mandate;” that is, President Obama’s unprecedented “healthcare” decree mandating that all Americans—including Catholics and Catholic organizations—forcibly pay for contraception, sterilization, and birth-control drugs that cause abortions. Two core Reagan fundamentals stand out: 1) Reagan’s belief in the sanctity and dignity of human life; and 2) Reagan’s thoughts on the “idea” of America.

On the first, Reagan insisted that without the right to life, there can be no other rights. The right to life is the first of all freedoms, without which other freedoms literally cannot exist. “My administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land,” said Reagan in 1983. “And there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.”

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