Reagan Won By Violating His Own 11th Commandment

Barb Wire

By Richard A. Viguerie

When Reagan ran for president in 1976, he ran against the entire Republican establishment; and when he remarked that we need new leaders, leaders unfettered by old ties and old relationships, he was talking about the establishment Republican Party and its “dime store Democrat” leadership, such as Ford, Nixon, Rockefeller, and their big business supporters.

The Tea Party is now the fourth leg of the conservative stool precisely because it is “unfettered.” […]

The Republican establishment likes to hide behind what they call Reagan’s eleventh commandment—thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican. This of course conveniently glosses over the fact that Reagan was a tough campaigner and a vigorous advocate of conservative principles.

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In 1976 Reagan had lost several primaries and was in danger of being knocked out of the presidential race. As the North Carolina primary approached, Senator Jesse Helms and Tom Ellis urged him to stay away from the state and let them handle the campaign unless he would do four things: attack President Ford; attack Henry Kissinger; attack the giveaway of the Panama Canal, and attack détente. Reagan agreed and attacked Ford and Kissinger and their weak foreign policy; he won the North Carolina Republican primary in an upset and kept his campaign alive.

In 1980 Reagan was equally tough on George H. W. Bush, famously reminding him, “I paid for this microphone” in a New Hampshire debate and showing Bush to be thin-skinned and petulant.

The bottom line is that the front-runner always wants a truce on negative ads.

Establishment Republicans also like to quote William F. Buckley Jr.’s dictum about supporting the most conservative candidate “who can be elected.” The problem is that so many establishment Republicans have become addicted to Big Government that they no longer qualify as conservatives. Supporting them as “conservatives” confuses voters and seriously weakens the Republican brand.

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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