Chopping Off Their Noses

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2004

A lot of Reagan conservatives are threatening to cut off their noses to spite their faces, as the old saying goes. They think that because President Bush hasn’t done every single thing they want, or has done things they didn’t want, they should punish him by staying home on election day or voting for some third party candidate who hasn’t got a chance to win in November.

It should be obvious to them that they will therefore help elect the Kerry-Edwards team that will do nothing they want and everything they don’t want. Somehow this idiocy seems to make sense to them – dump a conservative president for a pair of socialists who given four years in the White House will wreck this country’s economy and in the process probably lose the war on terrorism as well.

What bothers me is the insistence of these dissident conservatives that they are devoted to the legacy of Ronald Reagan, who understood the truth of the old adage, “Politics is the art of the possible.” In other words you get what you can and wait for a chance to get the rest of what you want.

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These people think that if they don’t get everything they want they are willing to accept nothing, but that’s not what my father stood for. My father would say if I can get 80 percent or 60 percent or 50 percent of what I’m looking for I’ll take that and I’ll go back later on for the rest of it.

A lot of conservatives who say they espouse Ronald Reagan’s values forget a whole lot of his history, and his willingness to take what he could get was an important part of that history. They should recall that he kept moving the ball ahead, sometimes by just a few feet at a time, but almost always would end up crossing the goal line. This is how great things get done, by persistence tempered by patience and realism.

For Reagan conservatives to say that because they don’t like this or that thing that President Bush has done or has not done, they will even the score by walking away from the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan and thereby ensure the election of John Kerry, who is 180 degrees the opposite of my dad.

One of the things that is upsetting these conservatives is the preponderance of so-called moderate Republicans scheduled to be featured speakers at the Republican convention.

If the GOP relied on conservatives alone to win elections we’d never get elected to anything. Whether we like it or not, we need the moderates, we need the liberals in the party, we need to attract cross-over Democrats, if we want to elect Republicans and conservatives to office.

We may not like everything that is done, but we have to understand it’s the nature of politics – the art of the possible. As far as the lineup of convention speakers is concerned, we have to understand that national political conventions are essentially show business. This year, for example, there is no question about who the nominees will be so the main concern of the parties is to use the conventions as showcases for their political wares.

Part of that is the effort that will be made to win over those who don’t support the party but can be won over if they are attracted by what they will see and hear at the convention.

The Democrats are using my brother Ron at their convention. They may claim that they really want him as an advocate of embryonic stem cell research, which they support, but what they are really trying to do is to attract all those Reagan Democrats who have been voting Republican by saying, in effect, look, here’s Ronald Reagan’s own son lending his name to our party’s convention. They are saying c’mon home, Reagan Democrats and join with Ronald Reagan Jr.

Dissident Republican conservatives need to stay home, in the party of Ronald Reagan. After all, think how silly you’ll look without noses.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. Comments to for Mike.

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