Written by Frank Salvato
By Frank Salvato
Jan 25, 2008
I have been avoiding the discussion of who I am supporting for the Republican presidential nomination in deference to urging others to thoroughly examine the platforms, agendas and records of all those in contention.
For the record, the two candidates that represented my vision of what leaders should be were – and still are to a certain extent – Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter. Both of these men are strong on defense and understand that no other issue really amounts to much if we lose the wars against Islamofascist aggression and the American Fifth Column.
Given that, they too realize that our tax system, in dire need of restructuring, caters to congressional opportunism and financial malfeasance and that the government ought to start diminishing its role in Social Security so that we can lessen our government’s “tax footprint” and continue the creation of an ownership society. They both have considerably more experience in government and non-caustic inside-the-beltway politics than any of the Democrats running for the White House yet they still hold true to the belief that elected officials serve their constituents.
Both of these good and decent men are now out of the race and are so for many reasons, chief among them: a lack of adequate media coverage and a lack of support from those who should have known better. Now we are left with yet again another election where we – we who place the well-being of our nation before special interest litmus tests and victory at the cost of compromise – are left with the task of electing the “lesser of two evils.”
There has been much talk this election cycle about the principles championed by Ronald Reagan and whether or not the Reagan Coalition is dead. While I was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan, throughout his presidency and before, I was – and still am – more a supporter of the principles that he, I and many others felt were important for the well-being of our nation.
To be certain, there were some issues that I felt less passionate about than he did but in my support of him and the conservative movement those differences fell to the priority of the issues upon which there was agreement; issues important to the immediate well-being of our country.
That being said, we must all realize that Ronald Reagan’s “big tent party” was not a galvanized contingent of people who agreed on every issue. Reaganites of the era did not all belong to the same special interest groups or successfully pass every litmus test imposed. Ronald Reagan’s “big tent party” was an association of individuals and groups who – at their cores – understood Reagan to be a torch bearer for the basic principles of conservatism, even if he didn’t pass every litmus test imposed.
Ronald Reagan didn’t strive to placate the most intricate tenets of every conservative special interest group; he strived to lead the country in a direction where each advocate or special interest group would be able to quest for their ideals independently of government. He championed a path to responsible, limited government and a civically responsible ownership society so that those with ideals different from his own could take their causes directly to the people instead of trying to socially engineer through congressional action or judicial activism.
In essence, Ronald Reagan said, “...this is what I stand for and I am willing to lead,” not, “I am willing to follow the path where you would have me lead you.”
Ronald Reagan has since passed on and our country is lesser for it, although richer for having had him at all. And with him goes the so-called Reagan Coalition and we should allow this to be so. History has always witnessed the degradation of ideological movements when they have outlived their revolutionary leaders. A perfect example of this is seen in the degradation of the Civil Rights movement after the fall of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today’s so-called “civil rights leaders” – Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to name but two – have devolved to an opportunistic race-baiting group of special interest charlatans more interested in power and control than in enabling the least fortunate among us to chart their own courses for success.
But this doesn’t mean that we cannot build upon the Reagan legacy. In fact, we must build on the Reagan legacy. To do this we must first understand that we cannot achieve the dream of a responsible, limited government and a self-reliant, civically responsible ownership society without standing united in the basic principles of conservatism. We cannot place our special interest litmus tests before the well-being of the nation. We cannot demand that the Republican nominee be all things to all people. That impossible dream belongs to the false-promises of opportunistic politicians, not true leaders in government.
Further, we must realize that the path that leads back to an American society that values the well-being of our nation over the divisive power-mongering of partisan politics must be selfless. Individuals, special interest groups, advocates, unions and corporations must appreciate the fable about the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Each and every one of us must make a concerted effort to dial back on the “me-first” attitude so prevalent in today’s “I’ve got mine, to hell with you” society and start giving of ourselves – voluntarily – so that we steward the health of our nation; so that above all else, we maintain that “shining city on the hill” for future generations.
In the end, a good Republican recognizes there will more than likely be disagreements between candidates and voters on one or more individual issues. More importantly, a good Republican understands that those differences are trumped when the candidate is dedicated to moving down a principled ideological path toward the establishment of limited but effective government and societal self-reliance and that there always be an opportunity to advance dialogue on ideological differences among the populace.
In the end, a true RINO (Republican in name only) is one who places less value in the basic principles championed by Ronald Reagan and more value in using his name to further their ideological special interests, even if it means sitting an election out because they couldn’t get their way. Thus is the true nature of the RINO, self-serving, self-destructive, arrogant, litmus test politics.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention.