The Reagan Agenda is Back in Business

It may not be morning in America quite yet, but I think we can see rosy-fingered dawn peeking over the horizon.

Last month, Ted Cruz stepped up. Last week, Rand Paul stepped up. Last Monday, Marco Rubio stepped up.

Their arrival may not be the second coming of Ronald Reagan, but it’s the second coming of the Reagan coalition.

Does anybody make the case for traditional values more cogently than Ted Cruz? Does anybody confront overweening government more consistently than Rand Paul? Does anybody summon the themes of American patriotism more evocatively than Marco Rubio? Family values. Limited government. American exceptionalism. Those are the basic building blocks of Reaganism and, while it may take three good men to do the work of one Ronald Reagan, these men have produced a rare political moment. For the first time in a generation, we can say that the work of restoring American greatness may have begun.

Savor this moment. Declinism as a policy choice has been accosted. Neither the fading of the American Dream nor the inauguration of Hillary Clinton is “inevitable.” We’re Americans, after all, which is to say that we have the capacity to regenerate ourselves. We still have the capacity to make our nation a moral force in the world again. We still have the capacity to raise up extraordinary, home-grown leadership. It’s still up to us. We will decide our future, the conventional wisdom be damned.

The major media, fair and balanced as usual, greeted the Cruz, Paul and Rubio announcements with “breaking analysis” of why none of them could possibly win. (Well, in this case, the media will prove to be at least two-thirds correct.) But let’s not be distracted — those announcements were absolute gems. First, the venues. Cruz, the Tea Party favorite, changed lanes and opened his campaign at Liberty University, regarded by many as the birthplace of the Christian right. (Nice.) Then Paul somehow found a site called, no kidding, the Galt House Hotel. (Where else would a libertarian named Rand announce his candidacy?  ) And then Rubio spoke from Freedom Tower, which thrusts from the Miami cityscape as a digital salute to the sordid Communist regime just to the south in Havana. (Play it again, Marco.  ) Those three venues represent the Golden Triangle of Reagan conservatism.

And the staging! As a longtime TV producer, I always examine the presentation of political events – not just because I’m a shallow kind of guy but because it tells me if the campaign is well organized and well led, with the “creative types” harnessed but not strangled by “the suits.” All three of these announcements were well conceived and well produced. Cruz doing what he does best, striding across a broad stage, speaking without notes or Prompter. Paul in a beautifully lit, beautifully paced set piece. Rubio, handsomely framed as the public orator, taking us back to his roots, and to ours. The three events could not have been done better. (Compare those debuts with Mrs. Clinton’s furtive dash across the country in a bulletproof van with tinted windows, calling for transparency in government, stopping now and then to listen attentively to people who play everyday Americans on TV.)

Okay, I’m through exulting after this one last observation. (We veteran conservatives take our satisfactions when and where we can.) The spouses! What a smart and attractive group of potential First Ladies, all of them in the prime of their lives rather than the epilog. (I’m old enough to remember the theme song of the 1992 Clinton campaign, Fleetwood Mac’s classic, “Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow.” I offer herewith, free of charge, a suggestion for the 2016 sequel – “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney.) And if I am parsing their biographies accurately, all of these GOP spouses accomplished professional goals before they were married, unlike, say, Hillary Rodham, the well-known feminist. The Misses Cruz, Paul and Rubio will be more than assets to their husbands’ campaigns. They will be partners, contributing fully. We will find them more than “likeable enough.”

It’s been a grand time in the grand old party this month. Savor it. If America can re-establish herself as an economic, military and moral power in the world, we can look back on the Spring of 2015 as the moment when the rebound began.

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