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Forget Bush, Not Reagan

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

If some media reports are correct -- a dangerous assumption nowadays when media skepticism has given way to unquestioned Obama worship -- former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says the GOP needs to abandon nostalgia for the Reagan era.

I'm inclined to doubt the accuracy of that report since Jeb Bush was probably the best governor Florida ever had, and one who clung ferociously to the Republican principles exemplified by my father, Ronald Reagan.

Even if he did say something silly like that, my argument with him and Mitt Romney and the other participants in the so-called listening tour is not about my dad, but about the absurdity of a listening tour designed to tutor Republican bigwigs on what the public really wants from government,

My short answer to that question is that I want the government to get the hell out of our way and let us act like the free people our founding fathers wanted us to be, and not like subjects of an all-knowing, all-powerful federal government.

The listening tour is nothing but Republican gimmickry. The reality is that had they been listening over the past four years of the Bush presidency they would have seen the disaster of 2006 coming and they would have seen the catastrophe of 2008 coming.

Instead, they turned a deaf ear to the Republican conservatives not only on Capitol Hill, but to those out across America.

They lost in 2006 and 2008 because they stopped listening to the "nostalgia" for the conservative principles which guided my dad's administrations.

They receded backwards to the principle of losing elections, a habit that gripped the GOP until Newt Gingrich came along and showed them how to win congressional elections by standing for something, and my dad showed them how to win gubernatorial and presidential elections by championing the principles that made us the wealthiest and most-powerful nation in world history.

The lesson they taught was that you don't win elections by saying "me too," and trying to substitute a Republican version of big-government, wild-spending quasi-socialist agenda for a Democrat big-government, wild-spending quasi-socialist agenda.

Democrats know how to be socialists, Republicans don't. They can only try to imitate the real thing, so you end up as Benito Mussolini, half-socialist and half-capitalist, and not as Joe Stalin, socialist all the way to the death camps of Siberia.

If the GOP listeners want to know what the conservative majority among voters want and are thinking about, all they need to do is listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and -- in all modesty -- Mike Reagan.

Our voices are the voice of the majority of Republican voters and open-minded independents. We don't have tens of millions of listeners every day because we have a message that contradicts the opinion of our audience -- we have such a vast army of listeners because they recognize that we are echoing their own opinions and telling them they are right in thinking as they do.

They recognize gimmicky when they see it. Watching TV this morning, I saw a pornography star who is running for the United States Senate announcing that she is on -- guess what -- a "listening tour," to learn if voters want her to make the run for Capitol Hill. It seems Republicans aren't the only ones using gimmickry these days.

If Republicans had really been listening, they'd still be in control of the House and Senate and there would be a Republican in the White House.

They didn't listen then, and they aren't listening now. If they start listening, what they'll hear is a demand that the Republican Party get back to the principles and beliefs embodied by Ronald Reagan, and get back to the principles of genuine conservatism which echo Thomas Jefferson's sage advice that a people who fear government cannot be free, but a government that fears the people is a government where the people are the masters and the state is their servant.

Finally, it isn't nostalgia for the Reagan era we need to forget, but the big government, wild-spending of Jeb Bush's brother George's administration.

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