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F. Andre Hollings: Reagan and political reality

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: August 13, 2009 9:25 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Contrary as truth often is to the exaggerated bluster of liberal condemnations and popular fantasy, the Republican Party is alive and well, particularly in California.

For those blithely ensconced in the hallucinations of leftist rhetoric, that brush with reality may be too much for blissful ignorance to grasp. But as "beautiful" theories go, this too will succumb to an ugly gang of facts.

Be it the setback dealt to Sacramento's leftist passions on May 19 or the budget stalemate that terminated in what the Wall Street Journal called a conservative victory, those recent hallmarks emphasize the distinct echoing of a heretofore only whispered Republican resurgence in California.

The fatigue and regret rightfully fostered by liberalism's uninterrupted and blatant failures are ripening California for Republican victories in 2010.

Yet, even as we stand on the cusp of finally loosening the left's stranglehold on the California dream, I fear that we may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by rejecting the wisdom of Ronald Reagan and by ignoring political reality.

Reagan urged that we "emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test' of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense and maximum individual liberty.

As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement."

Yet as I hear threats of supporting third-party candidates; staying home on voting day; backing unproven, little-known dogmatists with no viable chance of winning against tried Republicans who agree with us 80 percent of the time and can win; and so on, based upon either undue fixation on elevated wedge issues or upon a single issue to the exclusion of all else, I fear the party is becoming the ruptured, thin-platformed body that President Reagan urged against.

Such threats serve to divide the Republican vote, which for a state with a 31 percent Republican voting share is disastrous, and weaken our ability to persuade to our cause the expanding numbers of decline to state and independent voters that we must gain in order to win elections.

Rather presciently given our political terrain, President Reagan understood that charity, reason, practicality and unity serve advantageously where the at times blurred shades of morality and lenses of emotion can sabotage a victory at hand.

Alongside the Reagan wisdom, political reality also dictates that we not allow elevated wedge issues and single-issue passions to sow dissension and schism, thus diverting our efforts from defeating democrats in 2010.

Like it or not, having a liberal Republican in office is far better than having the most conservative Democrat or independent occupy office because that conservative Democrat or independent will vote the same way the most liberal Democrat will vote regarding an elected official's most important votes: Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Majority Leader.

Those posts are the essence of legislative power because they dictate committee chairmanships, committee staffs, what legislation is brought to the floor, debate on legislation and more.

Why do you think Willie Brown said that being speaker was the closest thing to being ayatollah? An elected official's positions on all other matters go momentarily moot when those votes take place.

And by the way, California's present misery is largely due to liberals having continuous control of those posts for the last 39 years.

Along with that, I would rather compromise with that liberal Republican any day rather than the conservative Democrat because by caucusing with the Democrats his "conservatism" will be blunted; and thus, liberal concessions will be harder to obtain.

As detrimental to the Republican cause as Schwarzenegger has often been, can you imagine the unmitigated harm that a Democratic governor could have inflicted, particularly during recent budget negotiations?

The sure rumblings that are paving the way for statewide liberal defeats in 2010 ought not be undermined by Republican disintegration from within. Allowing anger over elevated wedge issues to the exclusion of all else, allowing fatigue-turned-indifference to defraud one into not voting or the like will sabotage California into continued liberal decadence.

Not for the sake of victory primarily but for the sake of our quality of life, we must face reality and continue to hold fast to Reagan idealism.

F. Andre Hollings is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now!" appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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