Reason Online has put together a few articles on Ronald Reagan since the weekend. One of the more interesting is a fairly substantial interview done in 1975, prior even to his first bid for the nomination against President Gerald Ford. Now, before I get to what I find most interesting about the interview, here’s an excerpt on political philosophy:
Well, government’s only weapons are force and coercion and that’s why we shouldn’t let it get out of hand. And that’s what the founding fathers had in mind with the Constitution, that you don’t let it get out of hand.
That’s right. Ronald Reagan understood that government is fundamentally force and coercion. I wonder if he understood that government is nothing but force and coercion? Here’s another one, on politics.
I have been doing my best to try to revitalize the Republican Party groups that I’ve spoken to, on the basis that the time has come to repudiate those in our midst who would blur the Republican image by saying we should be all things to all people in order to triumph. Lately, we find that of the 26 percent of the people who didn’t vote, more than half of them now say they didn’t vote because they don’t see any difference between the parties. I’ve been urging Republicans to raise a banner and put the things we stand for on that banner and don’t compromise, but don’t try to enlarge the party by being all things to everyone when you can’t keep all the promises. Put up a banner and then count on the fact that if you’ve got the proper things on that banner the people will rally round.
You should read the interview. For one, all of you presumptuous fools out there who believed your big-media personalities that Reagan was not all that bright will find otherwise. In fact, those of you decent enough to be honest with yourselves will certainly come to realize that Ronald Reagan deeply pondered questions of political philosophy back in the 60’s that have yet, 40 years later, to even begin to penetrate your thick skulls.
And for you religious conservatives, who believed Reagan was shallow and intellectually feeble enough to actually hold his ideas based on ancient, unverifiable writings or “feelings” based on an imagined “relationship” with God: go find otherwise. Find the real reason why Ronald Reagan is troubled by something like prostitution, for example.
All in all, it’s a pretty remarkable insight into the intellectual side of Ronald Reagan. He truly and honestly deals with philosophical and political questions from a perspective of moral right and wrong, with just enough of the practical thrown in so that you know he understands the difference between the ideal and reality. It’s not about political power and influence for him. I believe he is wrong about a lot of his positions, but I believe he is honestly and sincerely wrong. I don’t think he’s wrong because he could care less about being right — so long as he has the political will and wherewithal to get what he wants. Quite indisputably, Ronald Reagan genuinely cared about this country and what he thought he could do for it.
Now, finally, what I find most interesting about the interview is the totally opposite pictures painted by the preface to the interview and the interview itself. Reading the preface, you’d assume they were about to interview the most liberal of Democrats you might imagine. This goes to illustrate a couple of things. First, the end result of all public policy is pretty much the same, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are involved. Differences are superficial and for political consumption. What’s driving the whole thing is the world population of mostly complete idiots. Second, nobody, no matter what their political philosophy and will, can change it. Nay, they cannot even make much of a dent in it.
This freight train is on a collision course for hell, and not a goddamned thing is going to stop it until it gets there.