Today, there are “far too many people saying ‘let’s move beyond Reagan,'” lamented Steve Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan and keynote speaker at Accuracy in Academia’s November 5th Author’s Night.
Reagan stuck to an unwavering and enduring set of ideals. Yet, liberals are trying to present a distorted picture of Reagan and make him into a proto-liberal, said Hayward. Some liberals embrace the 2nd Term Reagan as a man of peace, call his foreign policy “pretty good” while condemning the Reagan of domestic policy. In contrast, Hayward insisted that “it was the same Reagan from beginning to end.”
“Reagan had a central idea,” said Hayward, summing it up succinctly:
“unlimited government is a threat to individual liberty both in its vicious forms, like communist totalitarianism, but also in its supposedly benign forms like big government bureaucracy that we have here in this country.”
Hayward also spoke fondly of Reagan’s commitment to the Constitution, saying that “Reagan thought about [U.S.] problems in constitutional terms.” Hayward then said facetiously that the “our constitution may not be perfect but it’s better than the government we’ve got.”
President Reagan’s proposed amendments to the Constitution, which he called a taxpayer Bill of Rights, were in line with his condemnation of big government. His most well-known proposals included a balanced budget amendment (sorely needed today) and a line-item veto for the President. Also antithetical to the current administration’s philosophies were Reagan’s next three amendment proposals. He suggested a 2/3 vote requirement for tax increases, a constitutional spending limit for the federal government, and a constitutional ban on wage and price controls. Hayward praised the foresight of the last proposed amendment; in the 1980’s, nobody was talking about wage and price controls, but today the government exerts control over the wages of bankers and perhaps will control all prices of the entire health sector.
Reagan-haters have criticized him as having been a mere puppet of his administration. Yet, Hayward points out recent discoveries that “Reagan wrote a whole lot more than people thought.” Reagan stood up to his advisors on many occasions and even “wrote a lot of his speeches.” Additionally, unlike many politicians today, he worked “really, really hard” on becoming a great public speaker, said Hayward. In any case, he knew how to lighten the mood. Hayward recounted how Reagan loved to regale former U.S.S.R President Mikhail Gorbachev with pointed anti-Soviet jokes, e.g., Two guys are standing in a long line to buy bread. One guy says to the other, “I’m fed up with these lines. I’m going to go shoot Gorbachev.” He comes back ten minutes later and the other guy asks what happened. “Well,” said the disgruntled man, “the line to shoot Gorbachev was even longer.”