Rebecca Hagelin

“President Ronald Reagan.” We’re hearing a lot about him on the campaign trail these days. It seems everyone is invoking his name.

Why? Because they sense that Americans are looking for true leadership based on the bedrock principles of our Founding Fathers. The principles of limited government, a strong national defense, traditional values and individual freedom. Ronald Reagan proved that when you govern according to these conservative principles -- when you do not waiver -- when you are steadfast and true to freedom -- America flourishes.

Which brings us back to the thousands and thousands of candidates running for local, state and national offices this year. When pondering a policy question, they should ask themselves, What Would Reagan Do? The Heritage Foundation has partnered with talk show greats Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in a new year-long campaign to invite citizens and candidates to ponder this very question. There is no better role model to help navigate the choppy waters of politics, today and well into the future. Why? Because Reagan did more than simply take strong, effective positions -- he took positions based on the U.S. Constitution -- principles which never change. Principles as relevant to today’s issues as they were when penned by our nation’s founders. He proved that timeless values are just that … timeless.

Ronald Reagan won a resounding 44-state victory in 1980. In 1984, he won a 49-state landslide. Remember, all this occurred before there was a FOXNews, the World Wide Web, or talk radio to keep people informed. Reagan’s message reached the American people -- and he reached them right over the heads of an entrenched liberal media establishment.

How did he manage this? As Heritage President Ed Feulner summarizes:

“Ronald Reagan secured victory because he spoke powerfully to the American people about conservative principles -- which he would not compromise! He spoke of our Founding Fathers and promised to return government to the people. And he did. He captured the hearts and minds and spirits of the American people. And through his presidency, he governed by conservative principles. Not compromising. Not giving in to pressure. Never allowing the media to dictate his day or his policy.”

And when Reagan died in 2004, the American people showed that their love for him and all he stood for was undiminished. If anything, it had grown. They thronged the route of his funeral procession. Ordinary men and women waited for hours to file past his coffin and pay their last respects -- to thank the man who led our country so nobly, who won the Cold War without firing a shot, a leader who brought a sense of renewed purpose and genuine hope.

The liberal media have tried for years to remake Reagan as just a nice old man “sleepwalking through history,” to quote one critic. But the American people know better. They remember who went to the Berlin Wall and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” They recall his honesty and his courage. They know that the tax cuts he fought for allowed them to keep more of their own money. They haven’t forgotten who gave them back their government. Ronald Reagan’s legacy is defined by timeless principles, fearless leadership and visionary solutions.

I believe others can rise to the occasion and govern just as successfully as Reagan did. But we must remind them that it is impossible without resolve, courage and an undying commitment to constitutional principles. That’s why The Heritage Foundation, Sean and Laura seek to remind Americans that every politician’s promise, every proposed law, must be measured by one standard: the U.S. Constitution.

But if you’ve never read the Constitution … how will you know?

The Heritage Foundation is ready to arm you with your own copy of this essential document. Just go to and click on “What Would Reagan Do?” There you can order, free of charge, a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. (We’ll even pay the postage.) It’s more than just a tribute to a great president. It’s our way of ensuring that the flame of liberty kindled by our Founding Fathers continues to light the way for future generations of Americans.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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