Lord knows that I love President Reagan. Like many others, I became a Republican because of him. After reading Lou Cannon’s “A Role of a Lifetime”, I spent the next 10 years searching for another Ronald Reagan in every candidate for public office. Then, I grew up.
There is only one Ronald Reagan. And, I would venture to say that some liberals are right - Ronald Reagan couldn’t win in the eyes of many Republican voters today because he wouldn’t be conservative enough. He certainly wouldn’t be the most polished candidate, not in the beginning. Reagan was successful because he was genuine. We cannot expect our candidates now to be someone who they are not. We cannot expect them to be Reagan.
If we wish to pay homage to Reagan, we must believe as he did that “American’s best days are yet to come.” Living in the past can be fun for a time. We all love to talk about the great Reagan days and quote him at every opportunity. Someday, there will be another candidate – dare I say – better than Reagan. America’s future is dependent on us to choose with conviction, but also realism. Many conservative voters are ideological – throwing away candidate after candidate because they don’t measure up. I understand this as I used to be one of them. There is a tremendous comfort in deciding that you will not compromise in a candidate – that you will not accept any flaws. However, this is a losing proposition for America.
It is important not to continuously put any of these candidates on a pedestal from which they will inevitably fall. Many people in the blogosphere and editorial pages have all but given up on Perry because of his lackluster performance in last night’s debate. The same fall from grace has been seen with other Republican candidates as well. Ronald Reagan has become the “one that got away”. You know – the person by which we compare all others. The problem with that thinking is that it increases the likelihood that we will miss the “real deal” when it is right in front of us. Is that person Rick Perry? I honestly don’t know yet.
If you are supporting a Republican candidate because you truly believe in his/her values, this isn’t aimed at you. I am talking to those who consistently attach to the bright shiny new thing in the room - be it Cain, Bachmann, Palin, or Perry - and then abandon all hopes at the first sign of trouble. It is time to grow up and realize that all of these candidates are imperfect. No one is perfect. No one is the perfect candidate. We must move beyond our idealized version of Ronald Reagan and find a leader for today. We must find the most conservative leader who is genuine, who can help return America back to our founding principles, and in whom we can trust.