Rethinking Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment

Posted by Larry Miller on March 15, 2009 under Why | Read the First Comment

In 1966, while running for Governor in California, Ronald Reagan’s formulated what has come to be known as the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” This was in response to the trash talk about conservative 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater by so-called moderate Republicans. In general is was a pretty useful and workable rule at the time.

However today it seems to only work in one direction as we have seen in the uncivil treatment received by Ron Paul and others at the conservative/libertarian end of the spectrum. While conservatives have gotten used to the being ostracized and having lies and half truths told about them, the more moderate members of the party seem to have much thinner skin.

We are told we should not be criticizing Republicans who are throwing conservative principles under the bus as the country plunges downward in an economic tailspin. While party members are squelched when bringing this up, polls show more anger among conservatives at the Republicans than Democrats. This should be cause for concern by those counting on this voting block.

The practice of catering to incumbents, despite a lack of adherence to generally accepted, smaller, less intrusive government thinking has led the party to silently take the poison pill of semi-Democrat influence in the leadership positions. Yet no one is supposed to speak up.

We saw this in action when President Bush supported Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter during his last primary fight against a conservative Pat Toomey. It was explained that we are better off with a “moderate” Republican who can win than with a real Republican who may not. While credit must be given for Senator Specter’s support during the Clarence Thomas hearings, it could be argued that over the course his career, he has done as much damage to our country as many liberals in the Senate.

Part of the problem comes from the uneasy alliance between many of the professionals for whom the political game is a vocation devoid principled involvement and many in the grassroots who are motivated by causes and issues the other half can not comprehend. The “values voters”, as they are sometimes called, have this nasty habit of wanting candidates to stand for something other than just wearing the right jersey when trotting out onto the playing field.

This is an ongoing battle in which the professionals expect the values voters to stick with and work for the Republican Party as it is the only one that even gives lip service to their issues. Conservative candidates are labeled as “extreme” which really means they are more passionate some issue than the poll driven “moderates”. It means, also, that by invoking the eleventh commandment, the true believers are forbidden to point out the squishiness and wayward behavior of the traditional party leadership and office holders.

The last two national election cycles have shown that the public is catching on to this Democrat-lite in Republican clothing practice. Yet many of the political class continue to tell us that we should not stand so strongly on principle and be a little more amenable to the ideas of the left. They think this is where the people are going and the party must adapt.

There is only one word to describe this thinking: Wrong! It means that we who believe in values such as life, personal responsibility and the like need to be more vocal. We need to hold leaders to their promises and, if they don’t perform, replace them! It’s time to remember that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. We can no longer accept being used and abused by political leaders who covet our votes but not our input.

Some will say that life would be even worse with people who don’t even give the time of day to pro-life activists, second amendment defenders or property rights advocates. I would ask them, how much worse could it be than the situation we have now with an almost non-functional minority in both houses in Washington? The liberal/progressive left is poised to run roughshod over any semblance of common sense. Yet we are being told by many, that politically, we need to do more of the same that put us in this position.

It’s time for those of us who value the promise of America and the values on which it was founded to reject the efforts of those who would silence us. It’s time to move forward on what we know to be right rather than what we are told is expedient. It’s time to consider what Charles Stanley’s grandfather taught him, “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.” We’ve tried everything else, now it’s time we use right and wrong as our standard of involvement and support rather than practical expediency.

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  • Prayer Warrior said,

    Dear Larry,

    Actually, it was Gaylord Parkinson, chairman of the California Republican Party who created the 11th Commandment, and it helped Ronald Reagan, who was the underdog in the Governor’s Race in anno domini 1966, a year not unlike a.d. 2009. Goldwater of Arizona got a much worse defeat by Johnson in a.d. 1964 than McCain of Arizona was defeated by Barry Obama in a.d. 2008.

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