Reagan, CPAC, GoProud And Perhaps Conservatism’s “Greatest Triumph”
I was pretty harsh on a GoProud co-founder when withdrawing my support. This below is Ronald Reagan at CPAC in 1985. I've already said I'm not a social conservative, nor of the Christian Right. But it occurs to me that what Barron was doing – and what some libertarians do today – is precisely what Reagan was criticizing and stressing as so important here. If that's to be called "progress," how is it not "progressivism?" I suspect the bused in Paul-bots would boo Reagan were he to give this speech today. I'm not always in agreement with social cons. But I've no desire to put them on the "moral defensive," either.
But along with that, perhaps the greatest triumph of modern conservatism has been to stop allowing the left to put the average American on the moral defensive. By average American I mean the good, decent, rambunctious, and creative people who raise the families, go to church, and help out when the local library holds a fundraiser; people who have a stake in the community because they are the community.
These people had held true to certain beliefs and principles that for 20 years the intelligentsia were telling us were hopelessly out of date, utterly trite, and reactionary. You want prayer in the schools? How primitive, they said. You oppose abortion? How oppressive, how antimodern. The normal was portrayed as eccentric, and only the abnormal was worthy of emulation. The irreverent was celebrated, but only irreverence about certain things: irreverence toward, say, organized religion, yes; irreverence toward establishment liberalism, not too much of that. They celebrated their courage in taking on safe targets and patted each other on the back for slinging stones at a confused Goliath, who was too demoralized and really too good to fight back.
But now one simply senses it. The American people are no longer on the defensive. I believe the conservative movement deserves some credit for this. You spoke for the permanent against the merely prevalent, and ultimately you prevailed.