11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative

11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative

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by Paul Kengor

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Perhaps no other president's name is invoked by politicians as much as Ronald Reagan's. Every election, as presidential hopefuls jockey for the Republican nomination, each one claims to be a Reagan conservative. But are these candidates truly carrying on the mantle of Ronald Reagan, or are they abusing the memory of our great president? What did Ronald Reagan


Perhaps no other president's name is invoked by politicians as much as Ronald Reagan's. Every election, as presidential hopefuls jockey for the Republican nomination, each one claims to be a Reagan conservative. But are these candidates truly carrying on the mantle of Ronald Reagan, or are they abusing the memory of our great president? What did Ronald Reagan really believe? In 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, biographer Paul Kengor analyzes Ronald Reagan's speeches and actions to paint a full, accurate picture of his beliefs. Kengor identifies these principles that lie at the crux of Reagan's conservatism; Freedom, Faith, Family, Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life, American Exceptionalism, The Founders' Wisdom and Vision, Lower Taxes, Limited Government, Peace Through Strength, Anti-Communism, and Belief in the Individual. And it is through these principles that Reagan's modern emulators may create a successful, conservative future.

Many a politician has asked: What would Reagan do if he were president now? Where would Reagan stand on today's issues? Who is the next Ronald Reagan? Paul Kengor dissects Reagan's presidency and provides decisive conclusions. The answers to some of these questions may surprise conservatives and liberals alike.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Kengor (political science, Grove City Coll.; God and Ronald Reagan), considered an expert on Reagan, presents a very short book—to which he contributes about half of the text—looking at Reagan's speeches across the president's political career, including many from the 1970s at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. He distills Reagan's philosophy via 11 principles: freedom, faith, family, sanctity and dignity of human life, American exceptionalism, the Founders' wisdom and vision, lower taxes, limited government, peace through strength, anticommunism, and belief in the individual. Within this framework, Kengor does not explore where Reagan's thinking came from or how it agreed or disagreed with other philosophies. Nor does he really analyze how his subject's principles played out in the real world of government. Instead he provides superficial and inadequate glosses, e.g., as California governor, Reagan increased access to abortion, but Kengor does not address that or Reagan's tax increase early in his term or his well-known issues with his own family. The author's occasional attacks on President Obama are unnecessary and distracting. He seems to want to have it both ways—being a respected scholar and simultaneously a partisan attack dog. Fifty pages of the book reprint Reagan speeches, without annotations. The best known is the president's 1983 "Evil Empire" speech: the speechwriter's draft is shown with copious changes in Reagan's hand. VERDICT For true-believing Reagan fans only.—Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH
Publishers Weekly
Political scientist and Reagan scholar Kengor (The Communist) sets out to answer the question "What is a Reagan Conservative?" Reviewing Reagan's popularity and accomplishments as President, Kengor zeros in on a 1977 speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee that outlined significant principles of the conservative movement. Kengor discusses each of the 11 principles in turn, noting how Reagan illustrated it, and why it remains significant today. Freedom, our "divine right"; faith, which he ties to optimism; and family, defined as father, mother, children, are the first principles. Kengor further lists sanctity of human life; American exceptionalism; the wisdom and vision of the Founding Fathers; and lower taxes and reduced government size. This ties to the next principle, limited government; though not in the case of the military, as "peace through strength" and anti-Communism both required significant spending. The final principle tied to the Reagan model of conservatism is belief in the individual. Critical readers will note that many of these principles are defined in ways that require acceptance of conservative dogma, not in ways that invite discussion and open exchange of ideas. When Kengor relates these principles to contemporary debates such as same-sex marriage, he rather flatly predicts Reagan's stance. Excerpts from Reagan's speeches comprise the second half of this slim volume. Recommended for Conservatives who wish to have a stronger understanding of the ideas that drove policy during Reagan's administration. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
No Reagan biographer or scholar knows Ronald Reagan and conservatism like Paul Kengor. If you want to know what's really meant by 'Reagan conservatism,' Paul Kengor is the guy and this is the book. — Michael Reagan

Dr. Paul Kengor's work on Reagan continues the great president's legacy wish to teach, as well as lead. Kengor's keen analysis of Reagan's conservatism will inform and inspire the next generation of conservative leaders as they take up the mantle of the sacred realities that so inspired the Gipper. Respect for individual, adherence to the virtues of the family, lower taxes and a less burdensome government are the values that Reagan fought for, and the standards that should direct the path of his acolytes that follow. Dr. Kengor has proven he is one of those acolytes who will ensure that the legacy of Reagan never dims. — Senator Rand Paul, (R-KY)

A clear, concise outline of President Reagan's approach to politics — and a roadmap to victory for today's conservatives. — Herb Meyer, Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council during the Reagan Administration

Paul Kengor has done a great job and great service capturing the essence of Reagan's economic ideals. As someone involved with Reaganomics, and particularly tax cuts, I am especially pleased with Kengor's treatment of the subject. We need to properly understand what happened under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s—most notably, the enduring value of his tax cuts, which were a cornerstone of Reagan conservatism. This book gets it right. Nicely done. — Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates, an economic research firm

Paul Kengor has written an elegant primer on what Ronald Reagan believed, how he implemented so much of what he believed, and how it benefited the Republic. Here is essential reading for all who would vote for a better America. — R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr, founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator

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Meet the Author

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of the college's Center for Vision & Values. Kengor is an internationally recognized authority on Ronald Reagan. Kengor is nationally known for his work on the American presidency. He is part of a select group of presidential scholars to participate in C-SPAN's highly regarded ranking of American presidents. A native of Western PA, Kengor lives in Grove City, PA, with his wife and their seven children.

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11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry to say, but this book is somewhat poorly written. It's short and trite. The material is nothing new or in depth. I was disappointed. As a big Reagan fan, I expecred more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book withe great insight to what we need to do to push the Conservative movement.