Why the next Reagan?
By Bruce Walker
I have written a couple of articles, beginning in January (before Fred Thompson's name was even being mentioned as a presidential candidate, much yet as the "Next Reagan") that Fred Thompson is the next Ronald Reagan of the Republican Party. Since my January article (which was entitled "The Next Reagan") the pundits first scoffed, then puzzled, and now rush to demonstrate just why Fred Thompson is not the next Reagan.
Many of the points that I made in my first two articles "The Next Reagan" and "Yes, the Next Reagan" are irrefutable: Fred Thompson is a great communicator, at home as much in front of the microphone as the camera, as comfortable with a group of people informally as he is in giving a serious speech; he is a man who believes that the republic has chosen him, and not the only way around (he is ambitious to do good, not ambitious to be ambitious); his life has been a study in character, with not even the hint of serious ethical problems; and he is almost impossible not to personally like because his decently and humanity toward everyone is unchallengeable; and what he says is what he believes. That sure sounds like Ronald Reagan.
Fred Thompson is also someone who has been in Washington enough to understand the nature of the its problems (eight years in the Senate is much more experience than Obama or Edwards have had, and Thompson worked on the Watergate Hearings in the 1970s and knew Hillary Clinton from that experience.) Yet Fred Thompson has been away from Washington since 2002. Hillary, Obama and Edwards all had something to do with what has happened in Iraq, because all were members of the Senate during that period. Many of the Republican candidates have also had something to do with what has happened in Iraq (Giuliani and Romney being the major exceptions.) Thompson, however, can run as a genuine outsider and as someone who can actually offer solutions to the problems we face in our war on terrorism.
But there is a much more important reason why Fred Thompson is the "Next Reagan." He is the only Republican candidate besides Ronald Reagan in the last forty-two years who is a genuine and unqualified conservative. It is a fascinating bit of trivia that the book which most influenced the young Fred Thompson was Phyllis Schlafly's masterpiece, A Choice Not an Echo. That book, published in 1964, noted that the Republican Party had been hijacked by what we would call RINOs since 1940, when Wendel Wilkie, a Democrat turned Republican, won the Republican nomination. There followed a succession of RINOs – Dewey, Eisenhower, Nixon (presciently seen for who he was by Schlafly in 1964.) Barry Goldwater was, of course, conservative but he ran a year after a Democrat president was assassinated; he presented an angry picture to the American people; and, critically, he divided the Republican Party.) After Goldwater Republicans chose Nixon twice, then Ford, and then – finally! – Reagan. But who followed Reagan? George H. Bush, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush.
This is the critical difference in the Thompson candidacy: he is an unapologetic conservative who, like Reagan, is impossible to demonize and who communicates very well, and he will run for the White House as the last true conservative candidate of the Republican Party in the last twenty-two years. Also, like Reagan and unlike Goldwater, Fred Thompson is deeply liked within the Republican Party and his nomination will not cause the schism that the Goldwater nomination did in 1964, but rather a rallying effect like Reagan in 1980 (his loyal friendship to John McCain will help on that score.)
As I have noted in many articles in the past, the Battleground Poll, the most respected and accurate of all bi-partisan polls, which reveals the internals of the poll to the public, has consistently shown in eight consecutive polls spread out by many months or years since 2002 that about sixty percent of the American people consider themselves "conservative" or "very conservative." This poll explicitly gives the responders the option of choosing, instead, to be considered a "moderate," "liberal," "very liberal," or "don't know." Six out of ten Americans, in every single Battleground Poll over the last seven years, have rejected being considered a "moderate" or "don't know" or "liberal" or "very liberal" and have instead called themselves "conservative" or "very conservative." The last poll, in January 2007, showed exactly the same ideological division in America. Fred Thompson will win because he is a great communicator, a likeable and decent man, a natural leader, a recognized figure, a unifier – yes, all that – but Fred Thompson will because the Republicans in 2008 will, for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, nominate a genuine, authentic conservative, someone who truly represents who Americans feel. That is why he is the Next Reagan.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a contributing editor to Enter Stage Right and a regular contributor to Conservative Truth, American Daily, Intellectual Conservative, Web Commentary, NewsByUs and Men's News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.