He communicated his policies and principles in a way that was clear, cohesive and concise. He supported a small but effective federal government, one that worked on behalf of its citizens, as well as free markets and free societies at home and abroad. His policies stabilized the American economy in the midst of a recession and ensured American security in a dangerous world. Thus, when Republicans seek the “next Reagan,” they are truly seeking a politician who can effectively communicate the principles and policies of conservatism and get this country back on the “right” track.
During the past eight years, we have seen both the maintenance of and departure from conservative policies—a decisively mixed record. President Bush’s tax cuts were enacted on the basis that the American people spend their money more efficiently than the federal government, and thus, that the people can stimulate the economy better than the government. Individual Americans spend money based on individual wants and needs, and businesses that produce those goods garner the most profits. This belief is consistent with faith in the free market.
The recent auto bailout, however, is an example of the Republican departure from conservatism. To prevent the loss of American jobs, President Bush has set a precedent for the federal government’s intervention into the affairs of private institutions. GM, Chrysler and Ford are failing because they are not strong enough to compete successfully in the market. While the Big Three are dragged down by their ties to the auto unions, their competitors who are not bound by artificially high employee benefits continue to outperform them. The Big Three should have been allowed to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy so that they could restructure their companies and emerge stronger. Instead, the federal government intervened and is now in the business of using American tax dollars to prop up inefficient businesses.
While the GOP may have strayed from Reagan’s conservative principles, it will bounce back from its presidential and congressional losses. The only question is when. The answer, however, will be largely dependant on the behavior of the opposition—namely, how long it takes for the Democrats to bungle government so badly that voters start salivating for conservative-run small government again. But rest assured: voters will once again seek a new Reagan, a charismatic conservative who will allow them to live their lives, live them safely, and live them well.