Two prominent reporters and political analysts, Fred Barnes and Steve Bartlett, have taken to task President George W. Bush. Barnes touts the view that the President isn’t merely a conservative but a radical conservative. Steve Bartlett insists that Bush has betrayed – yes, betrayed – the conservative cause. Other commentators are expressing almost every intermediate view. What is a poor Midwestern grown-up boy to think?
My friends, I should have known that Rush Limbaugh would have the answer. Last week on his broadcast, Rush said that Ronald W. Reagan thought of himself as the leader of a movement. In his Inaugural Addresses, in his State of the Union Addresses and in many other speeches, Ronald Reagan utilized the pronoun “we” and phrases such as “you and I together can…” By contrast, George W. Bush frequently speaks phrases such as “I will not cut out and run” or “I will not betray your trust” – in short, the first-person singular rather than the inclusive first-person plural.
Reagan, said Limbaugh, thought of himself as leading a movement. There were many people behind him ready to go around the established order. George W. Bush, on the other hand, sees himself more as a person who has kept his campaign promises. He has returned the White House to decency, returned 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to a place of honor and fulfilled as many campaign pledges as he has been able.
Limbaugh has a point. Each winter in Washington there is a conservative-movement gathering commonly called CPAC. It has grown to be a huge event. Several thousand young eager conservatives, seasoned citizens and those between gather at one of the few Washington hotels which can accommodate such a large crowd. An entire row is reserved for radio talk shows. Some stations broadcast live. When Reagan was Governor of California CPAC was much smaller – perhaps 800 attending the Friday evening banquet. But Reagan always was there. He did not miss speaking to this convention when he was Governor or when he was out of office, and he seldom missed keynoting as President from 1981 through 1988.
I say this as someone who himself did not always participate in CPAC. In retrospect it is surprising how faithful Ronald Reagan really was. At the time I looked upon Reagan’s speeches as a bit dull and uninteresting. He was feeding me principle. I was seeking action. Has George W. Bush spoken at any CPAC gathering? Does he feel the need to be there since, after all, he is not the leader of that movement?
Limbaugh was trying to explain to a listener why he was not attempting to destroy the George W. Bush Presidency over immigration, spending, the Dubai Port deal, you name it. Limbaugh explained to that rather well informed listener that he profoundly disagreed with President Bush as to those issues and had said so. But pounding Bush into the ground would only bring on the next generation of liberals. Meanwhile, clobbering the Congress, which becomes rather tiresome inasmuch as the Republican Leadership requires it so frequently, would bring on a show of committee chairmen too horrifying to contemplate.
The Democratic Party must be re-taken by reasonable ordinary Americans, men and women who believe in God and are not afraid to say so, folks who support small business and free enterprise but are not in the hands of greedy corporations, those who want this country to have the strongest military but who do not want the Pentagon to be able to spend recklessly – yes, men and women who will fight to defend an ally which is attacked but who simply do not buy the unrealistic Wilsonianism of making the world safe for democracy. Indeed, men and women are needed in that Party who believe in the sanctity of marriage and who will protect the weakest among us, the unborn.
That is not the Republican agenda transferred to the other party. No, what I describe is a commonsensical agenda which can lower taxes without selling out our children and grandchildren. The result would be a Democratic Party in which K Street would be an ordinary address, a party governed by intelligent and thoughtful citizens, the great middle class of America as the backdrop. It would be the Democratic Party of my youth.
It is unhealthy when we have no alternative. Third parties are not viable. The big two parties have seen to that. So a reasonable person is faced with the imperative to vote for one party (although often against his interest) because the other party is so dreadful it must be deprived of power. In times past we could afford to have the other party in power for a few years. We were convinced that worse was better. We were sure the electorate would revolt and bring enough of us back to make a difference.
Today if the Republicans were overthrown the first step of those assuming power would be to change the rules. Talk radio has made a huge difference in our ability to convey our views nationwide. Same for the Internet. Just re-regulate these two media outlets and we would have a zero chance to go up against a George Soros regime. Soros funds so-called 527 groups, organizations which have a tax standing which permits the spending of untold and unregulated advertising money in competition with talk radio. The left does not do well on talk radio. Why? Its message lacks hope. It offers no solution, only problems. Liberals do better on the Internet, through which they can scare people with over-the-top charges. Ordinary folks soon learn out that our material holds up. That of the left does not. So in the long run the liberals lose there also. Among talk TV news only Fox is real. And the other side would regulate Fox, anemic though it is as to the conservative cause.
The bottom line is that we simply cannot afford to bring these people to power in the hope and expectation that two years or four years thereafter the electorate would begin to throw them out. Who among us can help to render the Democratic Party more responsible and more reasonable?