With the constant invocation of “what would Reagan do,” the amnesia about what he actually did do and say about conservatism is amazing. In the midst of a grand celebration of Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, many Republicans rush to claim his name while ignoring his principles. Reagan worked tirelessly to coalesce social, economic and national defense conservatives and when he succeeded he won big. It wasn’t a political tactic to him. It was congruous with clear thinking and the resulting success came not by contrivance but by nature.
But some people who claim his legacy seem to have forgotten.
Washington insiders have successfully convinced the Tea Party movement to stick to lower taxes and smaller government. The social issues will divide us, the Wise Men of the Beltway advise. But will lower taxes and smaller government alone save the Republic?
It is difficult to explain to a culture rapidly forgetting its foundation why that foundation matters. While churches and schools have left instruction in Western Civilization behind, the recipients of its strong underpinnings float aimlessly trying to redefine the definite and ignore the irrefutable. And here it is:
Western Civilization in general and America in particular was built on Judeo-Christian values. Those values shaped every area of life from government to finance to family. They brought order to all three.
Government was no longer top-down, but of the people. People were free to “pursue happiness” in part by choosing their own work. Judeo-Christian teaching taught them to work hard, make and keep contracts, treat employees fairly, pay an honest day’s wage, and keep their word. Prosperity followed from those foundational principles. It wasn’t the first time. In the fourth century, St. Augustine observed Christians becoming prosperous by following these new principles…then falling away seduced by their own success.
The moral foundations of Judeo-Christianity created boundaries in which strong families could be built. Stable families brought prosperity and success. Obedient children were productive and helpful. Wives were free to take care of home and personal interests, made secure by faithful husbands who in turn entered the workplace able to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Businesses were built, wealth created and the “pursuit of happiness” made possible by moral restraint.