The New Reagan Revolution: How Ronald Reagan's Principles Can Restore America's Greatness

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9781441778925: The New Reagan Revolution: How Ronald Reagan's Principles Can Restore America's Greatness

The challenges and threats we as a nation face today are eerily similar to the conditions in the world before the beginning of the Reagan era. In his famous 1976 speech at the Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan helped define a way forward and strengthened the Republican Party. As we stand at a crossroad once again, we are fortunate to have a blueprint for restoring America's greatness. Reagan has given us the principles to succeed.

This book is not merely a diagnosis of our nation's ills but a prescription to heal our nation, rooted in the words and principles of Ronald Reagan. In these pages, Michael Reagan shares the plan his father developed over years of study, observation, and reflection. It is the plan he announced to the nation, straight from his heart, one summer evening during America's two hundredth year. It is the plan he put into action during his eight years in office as one of the most effective presidents of the twentieth century, and it is the plan we can use today to help return America to its former greatness, soundness, and prosperity.

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About the Author:

MICHAEL REAGAN is the eldest son of President Ronald Reagan. He serves on the board for the John Douglas French Alzheimer's Foundation and has authored many successful books, including his bestselling autobiography, On the Outside Looking In. He lives with his wife and two children in California. From 1992 until just recently, he was heard daily by over five million listeners via his nationally syndicated talk radio program, The Michael Reagan Show.

JIM DENNEY has written over eighty books and collaborated with many authors, including Michael Reagan on The City on a Hill and The Common Sense of an Uncommon Man: The Wit, Wisdom and Eternal Optimism of Ronald Reagan.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen

Ever since the death of my father, Ronald Reagan, on June 5, 2004, I mark that date every year by visiting his grave at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. My wife Colleen goes with me and she leaves a white rose at his grave.

In the years since my father died, I’ve traveled across America, speaking before different organizations, talking to thousands of people and hearing them express their love and admiration for Ronald Reagan. Some have told me their favorite stories about my dad, or shared with me what his presidency meant to them. Wherever I go, people give me the hugs they wish they could give Ronald Reagan, and I’m reminded of the way my dad and I used to hug every time I visited him.

Generosity was basic to my father’s character. Both as a governor and as president, he personally responded to many letters from constituents. People would tell him they couldn’t pay their electric bill, and he would write them a check from his personal account, no questions asked. Once, when a man wrote saying he didn’t own a suit for his wedding day, Dad took a suit from his own closet and sent it to him.

A mother once wrote to President Reagan and told him her young son had been working hard at his schoolwork. My father wrote back and enclosed a personal check for $100 to start a college fund for the boy. Later, when he discovered the check had not been cashed, he contacted the woman and she said her banker told her not to cash it because the signature was worth more than the face value of the check. “Go ahead and cash it,“ Dad told her. “When it comes back from the bank, I’ll have the canceled check mailed to you.” Dad ordered his staff to keep these acts of generosity secret. He believed that if you did good works to gain publicity, you’d lose God’s blessing for those works.

There’s something my father did on a regular basis that I’ve never seen mentioned in any of the books, articles, or news stories about his life. Dad always spent Thanksgiving with his family at the ranch, but he almost always spent Christmas at the White House. Why? Because he was thoughtful toward his Secret Service detail. He believed that the agents who protected him should be home with their families on Christmas Day, so he always spent Christmas in the White House.

That little fact says so much about Ronald Reagan’s character. It was little acts of thoughtfulness and kindness like that which made the Secret Service love him. Dad had a special relationship with the Secret Service that few other presidents ever had. The Clintons were famously abusive toward the Secret Service, sometimes demeaning the agents’ professionalism by sending them on trivial errands as if they were servants. But the Secret Service agents absolutely loved my dad.

Whenever Ronald Reagan flew on Air Force One, he would always have a few kind words for the flight crew. He never disembarked from the plane without leaning into the cockpit and telling the crew, “Thanks, fellas!” My dad was a genuinely nice guy who was always thinking of ways to brighten the day for those around him.

I remember going to visit Dad when he was deep in Alzheimer’s, and he scarcely recognized anyone--yet in so many ways, the gracious character he had exhibited all his life still defined him. I entered his room, and a Secret Service agent was with Dad, spoon-feeding him. As I stepped into the room, the agent took a step back so that I could come closer and greet my father. But just then, Dad reached out and grasped the man’s arm. He raised it to his face and kissed the agent’s hand. There was gratitude in my father’s eyes--and there were tears in mine.

The irony is that while so many presidents affect empty gestures and pretend to be something they’re not, Ronald Reagan--the professional actor--was the real deal as President and as a father. The Ronald Reagan you saw on the nightly news was the same Ronald Reagan who took me to the ranch and taught me how to mend fences and ride a horse. He was the same Ronald Reagan who taught me about life and honor and integrity. He lived out his private values in his public life.

One thing even Ronald Reagan’s opponents had to admit was that he was totally honest. His word was his bond. If he said it, you could bet your life on it. In July 1981, Ronald Reagan promised Democrat congressmen that if they would support the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, he would not go to their districts and campaign against them in the next election. As a result, many Democrats stood with him and passed ERTA-- and Ronald Reagan kept his pledge.

In 1985, Ronald Reagan pressured the Soviet Union to release five dissidents from prison. The Soviets agreed-- but on one condition: The United States could not announce the release. It had to be done in secret so the Soviets wouldn’t appear to be caving to U.S. pressure. The prisoner release would have been a huge public relations coup for the Reagan administration-- but Ronald Reagan kept his word. The Soviets released the dissidents--and the United States kept mum.2

Dad also kept his word to my sister Maureen. It was no secret that Mau-reen and Dad were on opposite sides of the Equal Rights Amendment. Maureen was for it; Dad was opposed-- not because he opposed equal rights for women, but because he believed women already had equality under the Fourteenth Amendment. Maureen’s outspoken support for the ERA had not helped Dad’s standing with women during the 1976 campaign, so in 1980 Dad offered Maureen a deal: If she would stop talking about the ERA during the campaign, he would appoint a woman as his first Supreme Court nominee. Maureen agreed-- and Dad appointed Sandra Day O’Connor in July 1981.

Mikhail Gorbachev once called Dad a “true leader, a man of his word and an optimist.” Demo crat senator John Kerry once said, “Even when he was breaking Demo crats’ hearts, he did so with a smile and in the spirit of honest and open debate. The differences were real, but because of the way President Reagan led, he taught us that there is a big difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship.... He was our oldest president, but he made Amer-ica young again.”3

America needs a Reaganesque leader once more-- a leader whose honor and integrity win praise from friends and adversaries alike. When our lead-ers do not keep their word, America suffers. Today, America is led by a president who promised us transparent government, an end to earmarks in spending bills, no lobbyists in his administration, no recess appointments, a net spending cut, no tax increases on the middle class, elimination of government programs that do not work, a secure border, closing of the detention facility at Guantv°namo within a year, the airing of the health care debate on C-SPAN, and placing all nonemergency legislation on the White House Web site for five days before signing. He has not kept even one of those promises.

Barack Obama gets a pass because Americans have become cynical and no longer expect the truth from politicians. It’s been a long time since Ronald Reagan was president, and many Americans have simply forgotten that he was not like other politicians. He didn’t lie to the American people. He didn’t pretend to be something he was not.

One of my father’s biographers wrote a book called President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. The title is misleading. Ronald Reagan didn’t see the presidency as a “role.” He was probably the most genuine and sincere occupant of the Oval Office in our lifetime. That’s why he would never take off his suit coat in the Oval Office-- he deeply revered that office, the presidency itself, and all of the presidents who went before him. He was an intensely devoted student of history, and he knew what that office meant.

We’ve lowered our standards about what is acceptable in our culture, in our media, and in the Oval Office. I think a lot of the coarsening of our culture can be traced to the Year of Lewinsky, 1998, when the American president wagged his finger at us and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.... These allegations are false.” When that statement turned out to be a lie, the Democrats defended him on the grounds that “everybody lies about sex.” So it became okay to lie to the American people and lie under oath-- as long as it’s about sex.

Now, when Barack Obama’s promises turn out to be as hollow as a piv±ata, does anybody call him on it? Nope. Nobody, not even Democrats, expects him to keep his word. We have dropped our standards. We now settle for leaders who lie.

That’s how far we’ve drifted from the Age of Reagan.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant. He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com. This column is adapted from his book, The New Reagan Revolution (St. Martin’s Press). Copyright 2011 Michael Reagan.

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