There have been two articles in the WSJ recently that look at how Ronald Reagan influenced our conception of conservatism. This one argues that Reagan's conservatism was something new, different and complex while this one argues that Reagan simply returned America to its roots. Both articles are worthy efforts in their way but the first one in particular mistakes what he had to do as a matter of practical politics for what his basic aims and values were. But why take anybody's word for what Reagan stood for when we have it all summed up by the man himself in his farewell speech as President? He makes it clear there that there is just ONE thing he stood for above all: Individual liberty. As he said:
"And in all of that time I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation - from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.... Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which "We the people" tell the government what it is allowed to do. "We the people" are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past eight years.... I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.... We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection". I'll go with Reagan's definition of conservatism any time.
This blog is of course only one of many that is scathing in its criticisms of all forms of Leftism and so-called "liberalism". Unsurprisingly, however, Leftists do shoot back and one of their favourite tactics is to misrepresent conservatism in various ways. I have therefore put up here a brief survey of the historical and psychological evidence on what conservatism is -- thus giving, I hope, useful ammunition to combat Leftist lies and misrepresentations. And I can assure everyone that what Reagan stood for has been a consistent theme in Anglo-Saxon politics for over a thousand years. In the hope of drawing the article to the attention of as many as possible of my fellow bloggers, I have posted it on blogspot together with a big blogroll. I think most bloggers do track down mentions of themselves on other blogs so they should come across the article whilst doing that. Note that the permalinks for the article are gathered together at the end in the form of a clickable index.
And this is the sort of unreason conservatives are up against: "Ronald Reagan's biggest crimes were the bloody military actions to suppress social and political change in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Afghanistan"