I was honored with a bust of Ronald Reagan last week at a dinner in Baltimore. When I was handed the small statue, it struck me how appropriate it was that Reagan was smiling.
Ronald Reagan smiled almost all the time. The reason was this: Ronald Reagan believed he represented the long-term movement of freedom. He believed — rightly — that he was part of a movement that began 400 years ago this spring, when a people who believed that their rights came from God came to America and spent the next four centuries building the most creative, prosperous, innovative and generous nation on earth.
Ronald Reagan is on my mind these days because conservatives will have several opportunities in the coming months to recover the spirit of Reagan — and build on his legacy.
‘Raising a Banner of No Pale Pastels but Bold Colors’
If I could name the theme for the 2008 elections it would be this: Bold solutions based on bold colors.
What do I mean by “bold solutions based on bold colors”?
In 1974, the future looked bleak for conservatives. The mid-term elections had been a disaster. And America was in retreat — and our enemies were advancing — in Vietnam and the world.
Many in his party thought the solution was to abandon center-right principles, but Ronald Reagan said no. At a gathering of conservatives in the spring, he called for “raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors.”
For those of us who remember 1974, today feels dangerously similar. The mid-term elections were a disaster. And elites are urging us to retreat in failure from Iraq.
The Opportunity to Do Ronald Reagan One Better
But thanks to Ronald Reagan’s leadership, we have the opportunity to reverse course by doing Reagan one better. We need bold solutions based on bold colors.
What do I mean? One of the boldest of conservative colors is our belief in free markets. But what does this principle mean for families struggling to pay for health care? What can free markets do for children trapped in failing schools? What are the bold solutions that flow from the pro-market, pro-family, pro-America principles Ronald Reagan taught us?
In two weeks, the National Review Institute will host a “Conservative Summit” to take stock of where we are and try to chart a course for the coming months and years. And just five weeks after that, conservatives will gather for the 34th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Moving From Ideas to Solutions
These two meetings represent a tremendous opportunity to put forward bold solutions based on the bold colors Reagan gave us.
We need to move from the right principles to the right policies. And we don’t just need good ideas, we need solutions that work.
After all, a solution is a much higher standard than an idea. It’s pretty easy to have a good idea. But it takes a tremendous amount of work to take that idea and make it a solution.
So what are my bold solutions based on bold colors? I thought you’d never ask. The following are just a few.
Bold Solutions for Immigration, Citizenship and Accurate Honest Voting
- Border control for national security with sufficient intensity and accuracy to ensure that no terrorist and no drug dealer can cross the border.
- Make English the language of government while respecting the language background of all Americans and encouraging younger Americans to learn foreign languages.
- Make passing a test on American history in English and giving up the right to vote in any other country key requirements of U.S. citizenship.
- Since becoming a citizen requires knowing English, have all election ballots in English.
- To insure that only legal citizens vote, require every voter to have a photo ID card.
- Cut off all federal aid to any city or county that declares itself a “sanctuary” and refuses to enforce legal immigration requirements.
- Enforce the laws requiring employers to know that their employees are legal.
- Outsource to Visa, Mastercard or American Express (or a consortium of the three) to have an accurate, real-time computerized system for identifying those participating in a worker visa program and for instantly notifying any employer that the person they are about to hire is illegal.
- Create a systematic worker visa program with a biometric card run by the computer card companies to avoid fraud, a background check to eliminate any criminals and a signed contract to obey the law and pay taxes or else be removed from the U.S. within 48 hours for failure to comply.
Bold Solutions for Energy to Help National Security, the Economy and the Environment
- Create a series of incentives and prizes to develop a hydrogen economy and return the Middle Eastern oil supply to being a petrochemical feedstock. A hydrogen economy would be better for America and our allies. A hydrogen economy would be better for the environment (no carbon loading of the atmosphere). A hydrogen economy would be better for the American economy because it would keep at home all the cash we are currently sending to Venezuela and the Middle East.
- While working to develop a hydrogen economy, there should also be an interim strategy to include incentives for conservation and for renewable fuels, including wind, solar and biofuels. It is better to send the money to American farmers than to send it to foreign dictators.
- Create a $1-billion prize for the first affordable car to get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline and be manufacturable at a price of $30,000 or less per car with reliability and performance comparable to a gasoline powered car. This car would probably combine an e-85 ethanol fuel with a hybrid motor using electricity (and allowing a plug-in to absorb the 40% of electricity production currently unused at night) with a composite construction modeled off the Boeing Dreamliners very light and very strong (much stronger than steel) composite.
- A second $2-billion prize should be offered for a car getting 1,000 miles to the gallon of gasoline.
Bold Solutions for the Cost of Higher Education
As higher education costs soar out of sight, liberals focus on subsidizing student loans and larger Pell grants but no one asks why costs keep rising so rapidly:
- Why are textbooks so expensive when printing costs are dropping and specialized publishing on demand is very cheap? There should be a project to produce textbooks at market costs not monopoly costs.
- How much have higher education bureaucracies expanded since 1960 and how much has that added to the unnecessary increase in the cost of education? A new model of flattening the hierarchy and shrinking the bureaucracy should be aimed at lowering the cost of higher education dramatically.
- How much can be saved by encouraging students to learn as rapidly as possible and graduate as quickly as possible? How much do current curriculums both in K-12 and in higher education actually slow students down, waste their time and waste taxpayer money?
Bold Solutions for Permanent Space-based Research and Exploration
NASA has become a slow and paper-dominated bureaucracy. It is proposing to spend billions very slowly and very bureaucratically. It will both waste the taxpayers’ money and actually slow the speed of getting into space. A bold alternative solution would be to:
- Focus the NASA bureaucracy on science projects and inexpensive unmanned space exploration.
- Set aside the money currently allocated for manned space exploration for getting to the moon and Mars and turn it into prizes with bigger rewards for earlier achievements and smaller prizes for later achievements. Entrepreneurial startups and bold adventurers will get into space much faster and more excitingly than a government bureaucracy.
- Change the FAA and NASA rules to make it easy for entrepreneurs and explorers to get into space at a much higher risk than we would tolerate for government programs. Establish an equivalency with mountain climbing as an acceptable risk informed adults could take in space launches.
Join Me at the National Review Conservative Summit and CPAC
It was at CPAC 32 years ago — in March 1975 — that Ronald Reagan urged the nation to raise a banner of bold colors. I hope you’ll seriously consider joining me at CPAC in Washington this year and at the National Review Institute Conservative Summit as well.
I will speak at both events and will be offering more bold American solutions for the future. But don’t just come to hear my solutions. Come to challenge all the speakers to go beyond politics as usual. To go from principle to policy. To turn bold, conservative ideas into bold, conservative, American solutions.
P.S. – I want to take this opportunity to thank KCBI in Dallas, Tex., for playing the audio version of my new book, Rediscovering God in America, in its entirety. For those of you out there who would like to hear the audio version of my book on your local station, please call the station and have them contact my office.