Blogger Debate Series Continued – Third Party Viability Round 2

Okay, I thought we were discussing the viability and possible success of a third political party. But as a staunch Reaganite, I cannot let scratcher’s comments to unheeded. So quickly, let me address those comments about big government, Reagan and his ‘silence’ on AIDS.

To be honest, some Republican Presidents have increased government spending as well. Let’s look at just what Ronald Reagan did. He did increase government, but he did it in a slightly different way. Reagan dramatically cut the role of the Federal Government in domestic programs and shifted the focus to increasing the military. Of course, this is well known today to be one of the leading reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union.  So this begs the question, did Reagan increase or decrease the role of government in our lives? On the domestic front, he dramatically decreased it, so the argument can be made that he was a small-government conservative. If one takes into the account the expanded size of the Federal Government due to the military build-up during the Reagan years then the answer seems less clear unless you remember one key factor, our Constitution. It specifically calls for the Federal Government to provide for the common defense; it does not call for entitlements, or other socialistic programs. So in retrospect, Reagan was definitely a true conservative. It is very unfortunate that we do not have a true conservative in the White House at this time.

Now scratcher alluded to Reagan’s ‘silence’ on the AIDS epidemic. In it he links to Democracy Now!, a far left group. Little wonder that they would have something bad to say about Ronald Reagan. In his reply, scratcher said:

“This is the same Ronald Reagan who sat silent for SIX YEARS as the AIDS epidemic began and spread like wildfire. Why? Because like many so-called conservatives, homosexuality offended his sensibilities. In a statement about AIDS education, Reagan said:

“Let’s be honest with ourselves: AIDS information cannot be what some call ‘value neutral,’ ” said the President, who rarely has spoken about the disease in public. “After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons?”

So we have from President Reagan a sterling example of a conservative who allows his own moral beliefs to affect policy – at the cost of many, many thousands (now millions) of lives.”

Wow, those are pretty harsh words. But are they accurate? Did Reagan sit “silent for SIX YEARS?” Of course not; one of the men who knew Reagan best, Edwin Meese III says that to say Reagan was silent on AIDS is completely unfair:

“I can remember numerous sessions of the domestic-policy council where the surgeon general provided information to us, and the questions were not whether the federal government would get involved, but what would be the best way. There was support for research through the NIH. There also were questions about the extent to which public warnings should be sent out. It was a question of how the public would respond to fairly explicit warnings about fairly explicit things. Ultimately, warnings were sent out.”

And Peter Robinson, a former speechwriter for Reagan and author of the book, How Reagan Changed My Life says:

“As I recall, from 1984 onward — and bear in mind that the AIDS virus was not identified until 1982 — every Reagan budget contained a large sum of money specifically earmarked for AIDS. But, of course, that’s the kind of argument that takes place over every item in the federal budget. Nevertheless, the notion that he was somehow callous or had a cruel or cynical attitude towards homosexuals or AIDS victims is just ridiculous.”

Also, official White House papers cited by Steven Hayward, author of the multi-volume Age of Reagan show that Ronald Reagan spoke of AIDS no later than September 17, 1985. Responding to a question on AIDS research, the president said:

“[I]ncluding what we have in the budget for ’86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I’m sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it’ll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.”

But was Reagan “a conservative who allows his own moral beliefs to affect policy – at the cost of many…lives”? Hardly, and who could answer this question better than one of Reagan’s own children? Patti Davis said on Time Magazine’s website as to whether a TV movie which portrayed Reagan as a homophobe was accurate or not. She said she recalls “the clear, smooth, non-judgmental way” in which her dad discussed the topic of homosexuality with her when she was age eight or nine.

“My father and I were watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie. At the moment when Hudson and Doris Day kissed, I said to my father, “That looks weird.”… All I knew was that something about this particular man and woman was, to me, strange. My father gently explained that Mr. Hudson didn’t really have a lot of experience kissing women; in fact, he would much prefer to be kissing a man. This was said in the same tone that would be used if he had been telling me about people with different colored eyes, and I accepted without question that this whole kissing thing wasn’t reserved just for men and women.”

And also responding to that made for TV movie about Reagan and his being a homophobe is this from Martin Anderson, a high-level Reagan adviser and coeditor of Reagan: A Life in Letters:

“I remember Reagan telling us that in Hollywood he knew a lot of gays, and he never had any problem with them. I think a number of people who were gay worked for the Reagans,” Anderson told me. “We never kept track. But he never said anything even remotely like that comment in the movie. His basic attitude was ‘Leave them alone.’”

So it is pretty clear to me that Reagan wasn’t a homophobe, or even an indifferent conservative who ignored the AIDS problem. He budgeted for it every year of his Presidency after 1984. Reagan was a product of Hollywood and therefore knew a great many gay people, so it wasn’t as if the idea of homosexuality was anything new to him. Many of the misconceptions about Reagan’s ‘silence’ on AIDS comes from a CBS movie that was so inaccurate and controversial that CBS was forced to air it on their pay cable station, Showtime. Also it is clear that Reagan was a small government President, with the only part of the government he expanded being the military. To call him as guilty of social engineering as the worst progressive is laughable and highly inaccurate.

But what does all this have to do with our debate on whether a third party is a good idea for the Conservative cause right now? Well, nothing really. I just had to set the record straight on Reagan.

To be fair, scratcher did mention third parties –  in a fashion:

“If “true” conservatism is for smaller government and less federal intervention across the board, th[e]n not even Reagan was a “true” conservative. And if we can find some true conservatives, I’ll vote for them regardless of their party affiliation – or lack thereof.”

But if Reagan doesn’t pass a litmus test for scratcher, it makes me wonder just how far to the right a candidate would have to be for him to vote for them. All I can do is reiterate the need for Conservatives to take back the Republican Party so that we can change the course of our country back towards what our Founding Fathers intended.


7 comments on “Blogger Debate Series Continued – Third Party Viability Round 2

  1. ” did Reagan increase or decrease the role of government in our lives? On the domestic front, he dramatically decreased it”

    You didn’t even touch his expansion of the drug wars. THAT’S the biggest area where he expanded the federal government further into our lives.

    “Did Reagan sit “silent for SIX YEARS?””

    Am I incorrect that it took him 6 years to address a growing health epidemic with the American public? Did he actually speak to Americans on the subject before 1987?

    “Many of the misconceptions about Reagan’s ‘silence’ on AIDS comes from a CBS movie”

    While I rarely watch TV , I do remember the beginning of the AIDS outbreak. I remember the confusion, the questions, the first deaths… And the silence from the White House.

    “what does all this have to do with our debate”

    You quoted Reagan in reference to third parties. I feel he’s guilty of some of the same things that are wrong with the Republican party today, and that some of his policies and actions do not represent a limited government politician.

    “how far to the right a candidate would have to be for him to vote for them”

    For me to vote for them? Or feel I could give them 100% enthusiastic support? The answers would be different, as up until now I’ve voted for one of the two choices presented by the parties… even when it was a case of “Who is more tolerable?”

  2. “Reagan was a product of Hollywood and therefore knew a great many gay people”

    This means diddly. As a product of Hollywood, I’m sure he also knew a great many successful people who also used drugs.

  3. @scratcher…No need to get defensive. I mentioned Reagan, not because I thought he should be what we need to mold a candidate or conservative party after (though I can think of a lot worse people to emulate), rather I mentioned Reagan because he saw back in 1977 that splitting the conservative vote would grant free reign to the leftists and statists. I thought that it was apparent why I quoted him. I mean I didn’t quote what he believed in and hold that up as what we should aspire to, I quoted him on the specific question – “Do we need a third party?”

    As far as the AIDS question, he mentioned it to a reporter in 1985, but remember, the AIDS virus itself wasn’t even identified until 1982 and from 1984 on, he budgeted for it in the Federal Budget as a line item. Should he have come forth to talk to the American people sooner? Maybe, but remember also that he was recovering an economy that was wrecked by Jimmy Carter, not to mention bringing down the Soviet Union without firing a shot.

    I mention that Reagan was a product of Hollywood because that pertains to the comment made by his daughter about the time when she was a little girl and asked him about the gay actor, Rock Hudson. This was years before Rock’s sexual preferences were publicly known and Reagan conveyed a calm reaction to it when he discussed it with his daughter, Patti Davis.

    My position was, and still is that to say Reagan was silent on AIDS because he hated or despised or even just disagreed with homosexuality is very unfair. I am 46 years old and remember vividly the ’80s. AIDS was something that was little understood and quite a mystery to most Americans. It is easy to look back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight and see that AIDS would grow into a full blown worldwide epidemic, but at the time people knew very little about it.

    As far as the homophobe comment, I mentioned that because the made for TV movie that CBS produced alleged Reagan was a homophobe. I want to make it clear that scratcher did NOT call Reagan a homophobe.

  4. Reagan was truly inspirational, and I’m a big fan. But his administration was not one of limited government. The Drug War is an excellent example. A) it’s immoral to point a gun at an adult’s head (that’s what law is) because he’s smoking a plant that grows in the ground, and B) it’s not authorized in the 17 specific enumerated powers in the Constitution.

    He mysteriously dumped the gold commission, funded Osama bin Laden, and while he may have helped speed up the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was destined to fail regardless. The laws of economics cannot be repealed, therefore communist government always fail.

    How far to the right would I want to go? Nothing less than the Thomas Jefferson administration! But I’d be willing to start with a guy like Barry Goldwater or Ron Paul (you and I have talked about him extensively, so let’s focus on Goldwater).

    “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution … or have failed their purpose … or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” – Barry Goldwater

    I’m part of the Old Right, my grandparents conservatism, and I’m proud to say I’m anti-State. The Old Right hated the Left, but weren’t too fond of their own politicians either. As Thomas Jefferson said:

    In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

    So how far right? All the way to the founding, baby!

  5. @CL…How can I argue with someone who quotes Jefferson? 😛

    I will be doing a post soon about Reagan and the war on drugs since it has become such an issue.

  6. I will be doing a post soon about Reagan and the war on drugs since it has become such an issue.

    That’s what I like about you … You’ll argue anything! I love it!

    We gotta give some of the other guys a shot first, but maybe you and I should debate the Drug War soon.

    In the mean time, I look forward to your post.

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