Applying Reagan’s ‘Bold Colors’ Not ‘Pale Pastels’ to Conservative Political Action (Part 1)

In his 1975 speech to CPAC Ronald Reagan said:

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

Forty years of work by conservative thinkers, think tanks and issue advocacy organizations from coast to coast have provided more than enough intellectual ammunition to accomplish the raising of that banner of bold colors on every issue.

So why hasn’t it been raised? We experience election cycle after election cycle — and even election victories — without seeing that banner raised. With a few important exceptions here and there, Republican congressional majorities, Republican governors and Republican state legislatures continue to govern mostly in line with the Democratic Party Platform. Once in a while they spend a few dollars less than the Democrats would have.

I talk or email daily with fellow conservatives that are at their wit’s end. Many conservatives despair because they don’t see a solution. The problems are too big, too entrenched, too well funded. The political left has done too much damage, and the possibility of repairs seems like a pipe dream — especially because they don’t see elected conservatives mounting much of an effort to win support for cleaning up the big government mess.

The exchanges I have with friends and allies usually includes items from the catalog of problems facing our government at the local, state, and federal level. Debt piled high. Unsustainable entitlement programs. A massive government that stifles economic growth and opportunity. Moral decay that’s evident no matter where you look — even inside Christian churches. A K-college education system that somehow finds out ways to become worse even as the number of dollars shoved into it increases exponentially.

The questions are the same as they have been for years: What can be done? What can we do?

It has long been my contention that those questions aren’t being answered by most conservative elected officials, candidates, think tanks, or grassroots groups. A lot of fine people have formed a lot of fine organizations doing a lot of fine work, but it should be clear by now to everyone on the political right that the situation that faced President Abraham Lincoln in late 1862 is the same as today:

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

We must rise. We must think anew. We must act anew.

It is time for conservatives — all conservatives — to start taking political action seriously. Note the word “action.” Somehow too many of us have been trained to think that the work of preserving this democratic republic is someone else’s job. If we obey the law, contribute to society in the free market, raise our kids and vote right — well, that’s enough.

The problem is, it’s not.

As a citizen you cannot delegate the responsibility you have to participate actively in the political process.

I hate politics.” So do I. And isn’t that just too bad. Liberals love politics and their policies dominate because of it.

“I have better things to do.” We all have important duties to fulfill, but conservatives need to stop seeing political action as optional.

“I don’t have time.” You better make time — you’re losing your country.

Here’s some bad news for my fellow conservatives that they had better come to grips with fast. Liberals and RINOs (liberal Republicans) are politically smarter than conservatives.

How can I say that?

Because the libs and rinos are in politics in sufficient numbers and conservatives are not.

So what can be done? What can we do?

We’ll start answering that next time.