Searching for another Reagan?
Who is or where is the next Ronald Reagan for the GOP? A lot of people are asking and combing potential candidates each election cycle to find that person. I have been as guilty of it, as many other have over the past several years.
Let’s just be honest about it. There was only one Ronald Wilson Reagan. He was a once-in-a-lifetime candidate. He was historic. Reagan seemed to have it all. He presented well on television. He was a natural leader. He united the country. However, Reagan’s ascendency to the presidency was not immediate. Even I am not old enough to remember Reagan’s speech firsthand, “A Time for Choosing” at the 1964 GOP convention. However, every person should either read it or listen to it.
Yet, The Speech, as it later became known, by Reagan in 1964 for Barry Goldwater’s campaign was years before Reagan was ever elected as President of the United States. But, it did establish him in Republican and conservative politics. For years, Dad referred to Goldwater as the “forerunner of Reagan” and, indeed, his appearance on behalf of Goldwater surely set the stage for Reagan’s political rise.
But, I digress. The “next Reagan” yearning started to clearly manifest itself in 1999 and resonate as GOP officials flocked to Texas to solicit then Governor George W. Bush to run for president. Bush, indeed, did win election and serve two terms, as we all know. But, honestly, he was no Ronald Reagan. Otherwise, we would be looking for the “next Bush,” instead of the “next Reagan” after his two terms in office. So, in 2008 the “next Reagan” longing revealed itself with former Senator Fred Thompson’s arrival on the GOP primary ticket. At best, Thompson proved to be a lackluster candidate and quickly fizzled out, if he ever really took off after jumping into the fray, much to my dismay.
Now, we find ourselves in the 2012 campaign season, after a miserable few years of recession under the Obama administration. Has the longing subsided for the “next Reagan?” No. It has only grown to be a deeper yearning. In a mere six – count ’em 6 – months we have seen several names touted as the “next Reagan.” We’ve already seen Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry floated as the “next Reagan.” That’s a whirlwind six months, folks. Yet, none of them have been able to seize the opportunity, like Ronald Wilson Reagan.
The new flavor of the day is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Surely he is the “next Reagan.” Sadly, I believe Christie is more appealing as a non-candidate than as an actual candidate. Yet, that is not stopping many from putting the full-court press on Christie to jump into the race for the GOP nomination. Can you imagine the frustration for the current GOP field to be out on the trail campaigning like they are to have the spotlight shining on a non-candidate? Each of the current candidates missed their opportunity to seize the ever-elusive spotlight and hold onto it.
But, there again, the spotlight of the “next Reagan” will forever remain elusive, simple because there was only one Ronald Reagan. While he may be imitated, he will never be duplicated. A candidate may replicate him to some degree in their platform but that’s going to be the extent of it.
Reagan knew how to work an audience. He had charisma. He was soft spoken. He was easy going, when he needed to be but also tough as nails, when that need presented itself. But, there was another beauty about Reagan, he could temper these personas, moving back and forth between the two as circumstances dictated. The true underlying consistency of Reagan was his conservative disposition. I have yet to see these things in the purported saviors of the GOP in the past or present fields.
What we need today is a candidate that runs as a true conservative and then, when elected, governs in the same manner. Surely, that isn’t too much to ask, is it?
Bear this in mind though, while some of the GOP candidates are better than others on conservative credentials, any of them in the GOP field now are better than the current Obama administration. And, if you think one term of Obama was bad, dig deep into your imagination and think about how bad a lame duck Obama administration would be in a second term. Bearing that in mind, work hard for your preferred candidate in the GOP Presidential Primary. But, once the primary is over, get behind the nominee and bust your tail to make Barack Obama a one-term president.