Let Them Go Their Way
Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA)
March 1, 1975
Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other. But the significance of the election was not registered by those who voted, but by those who stayed home. If there was anything like a mandate it will be found among almost two-thirds of the citizens who refused to participate.
Bitter as it is to accept the results of the November election, we should have reason for some optimism. For many years now we have preached “the gospel,” in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism.
Now, it is possible we have been persuasive to a greater degree than we had ever realized. Few, if any, Democratic party candidates in the last election ran as liberals. Listening to them I had the eerie feeling we were hearing reruns of Goldwater speeches. I even thought I heard a few of my own.
Bureaucracy was assailed and fiscal responsibility hailed. Even George McGovern donned sackcloth and ashes and did penance for the good people of South Dakota.
But let’s not be so naive as to think we are witnessing a mass conversion to the principles of conservatism. Once sworn into office, the victors reverted to type. In their view, apparently, the ends justified the means.
The “Young Turks” had campaigned against “evil politicians.” They turned against committee chairmen of their own party, displaying a taste and talent as cutthroat power politicians quite in contrast to their campaign rhetoric and idealism. Still, we must not forget that they molded their campaigning to fit what even they recognized was the mood of the majority.
And we must see to it that the people are reminded of this as they now pursue their ideological goals—and pursue them they will. . .
I don‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.