Answering former NH GOP Chair’s claim that Reagan “belongs to the past”

Ronald Reagan

Not content with trashing good conservatives here in the Granite State, former NH GOP Chair Fergus Cullen wrote a column in last Friday’s Union Leader telling fellow party members, when it comes to Ronald Reagan: GET OVER HIM! Following last Saturday’s MTNP radio appearance, guest Leslie Carbone– who posted an excellent piece commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Gipper’s passing— agreed to provide a response to Cullen’s drivel…

Times may change, but government is still the problem, not the solution

by Leslie Carbone

As Republican hands continue to wring themselves raw over the party’s back-to-back electoral trouncings, the latest sound-bite floating from the mouths of the moderates responsible for the party’s loss of trust and power is that we should all just forget Ronald Reagan. 

That’s like saying that we need to forget Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice. 

Has baseball changed since those guys hung up their Red Sox uniforms?  Sure.  New teams and new divisions have changed the play-off structure.  New stadiums with strange designs bring different dynamics into play.  And, sadly, steroid scandals and other unseemly behavior have tarnished the game’s gleam. 

But the fundamentals of the sport haven’t changed.  You’re still not going to win without good pitching, good hitting, and good management. 

The world of politics has changed some too since the days of Ronald Reagan.  A new enemy has replaced the one he largely defeated.  New technology alters the way all sides communicate their ideas. 

But as in baseball, the fundamentals haven’t changed.  Wealth redistribution is still wealth destruction.  And government is still the problem, not the solution.

The last Republican president, and presidential nominee, to grasp—and communicate—those principles was Ronald Reagan. 

And that’s one reason why we need to remember—and learn from—Ronald Reagan.  We need to understand those transcendent principles they way he did, and we need to learn to communicate them as well as he did, evolving the means to keep up with technology, but never changing the heart of the message. 

And there’s another reason why we need to remember Ronald Reagan:  We need heroes.  We need great men of character, courage, and conviction to learn from, to emulate, to be inspired by. 

When Ronald Reagan took office, America’s top income tax rate was 70 percent; when he left, it was 28 percent.  Reagan’s tax cuts were permanent (well, that is, until his successor George Bush broke a campaign pledge).  And President Reagan pushed his tax cuts through a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

When George W. Bush took office, the top income tax rate was 39.6 percent; when he left, it was 35 percent.  This small tax cut expires next year.  And at the time he was promoting his tax cut, President Bush enjoyed a Republican-controlled House (which he continued to do until the Republican betrayal of conservative principles finally bit them in 2006).

Which man should we seek to learn from, to emulate?  The one who pushed significant, permanent tax reform through a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives—and ushered in an era of robust economic growth?  Or the one who settled for small, temporary tax reform, with a Republican House—and ushered in an era of robust government growth? 

Today’s baseball players—in the Major Leagues and the Little Leagues—need to follow the example of the great players before them, the honest ones who relied on hard work to master the fundamentals. 

And today’s Republicans need to learn from and follow the example of the last great Republican president, the one who achieved great things by relying on sound principles. 

Leslie Carbone is the author of Slaying Leviathan:  The Moral Case for Tax Reform.