This week I had the honor of speaking to the docents at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. They're the guides and the hosts who bring Ronald Reagan to life for a new generation of Americans. Many who visit weren't alive or paying attention when his administration brought America back from the cultural malaise and economic recession that threatened the future of our country.
My presentation, "You're the Only Reagan Some Will Ever Meet," helped remind those attending of the importance of sharing and living the principles Reagan valued. Citizens visiting the Reagan Library aren't just interested in history; they want to learn what he stood for and how it influences us today.
Reagan deeply respected the people he led, “I’m not taking your time this evening to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourself. That is what America is all about… It’s the power of millions of people like you who will determine what will make America great again.”
It's too easy today for the GOP to glorify Ronald Reagan, instead of educating and empowering the real stars--"We the People." If the principles he valued are to make a difference to this generation, it's the job of conservatives to educate and persuade citizens to treasure them and elect politicians who will use them to govern.
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has learned how Democrats turned social media and local outreach into key state victories. In the GOP's report, "Growth and Opportunity Project," they suggest, "We need to grow the Republican Party from the ground up, not from the top down.... The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue."
The report focuses on key changes, "Volunteer contact has to be used not only to identify voters but also to persuade them to support our candidates. Democrats had the clear edge on new media and ground game, in terms of both reach and effectiveness. Obama’s campaign knocked on twice as many doors as the Romney campaign,"
Joseph Spencer, author of "What Can One Man Do," (htp://www.onemancan.org) is one person who is making a difference. He reminds us all, "The greatest mistake is to do nothing because you can only do a little. The Constitution and our republic matter. I couldn't sleep if I didn't do my part." He's starting by helping conservatives in his own state assembly district to take back America one block at a time...starting with their own.
Mr. Spencer states his mission, "By using the latest technology to connect conservative voters with local conservative activists, we can keep more voters informed and substantially increase voter turnout. By training those local activists how to focus on their own neighborhoods, they quickly become the 'go to' experts and the source for reliable information on candidates and issues all the way down the ballot. We want to turn the conventional campaign process on its head."
If the GOP is going to give the Democrats a November wakeup call, they need a more welcoming conservatism that meets people where they live. The Democrats have ushered in a new cultural malaise, an exploding deficit, an unpopular "Affordable" Care Act, and an anemic economic "recovery." The time is right if conservatives are ready, willing, and empowered with systems to connect with and influence their neighbors.
Don't accept that America is in inevitable decline. Reclaim Reagan's optimism: “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”