In Impromptus today, I mention a meeting some of us had with Luis Fortuño, the governor of Puerto Rico — who calls himself a “Reagan Republican.” I hadn’t heard that phrase in a while. And I enjoyed hearing it.
Years ago, when Reagan slipped the surly bonds, I wrote a piece called “A Name of My Own.” It began,
Of all the things Ronald Reagan did for me, maybe the best was that he gave me something to call myself. I am a Reaganite. It can be difficult to answer when someone says, “What are you, politically?” The word “conservative” is subject to a thousand interpretations. You don’t want to launch into a lecture about the Scottish Enlightenment, the strange journey of the word “liberal,” the advent of Frank Meyer, etc. So, instead you can say — if it’s true — “I’m a Reaganite.”
Meyer, you recall, was the early National Review figure associated with “fusionism,” i.e., the melding of the libertarian and the conservative.
I wonder how long the word “Reaganite” will be meaningful to people — unto how many generations. “Lincoln man” used to mean something. I would be happy to say, today, “I am a Lincoln man.” But how many would really understand me?
I am also a law-and-liberty man. You too, I bet. Let me quote from a piece I wrote about Robert Conquest:
. . . how would he describe himself, politically? One writer, in Reason, described him as a “Burkean conservative.” Conquest would allow that. He says, “I’m an anti-extremist. And I’m for a law-and-liberty culture. Those are Orwell’s words: law and liberty. I don’t regard the EU as being any good for that. I am strongly against the EU. I’m against regulationism and managerialism. I’m against activism of any sort.” Remember, he says, “the Nazis were keen statists, and keen on socialism: ‘national socialism,’ they called it.” And when it comes to “conservatism” — that murky term — “I feel that, when other people and nations are veering from civilization, I would prefer to conserve. I certainly prefer Burke to Locke — but, of course, there’s overlap of various sorts.”
Tell it, Bob. The man is irreplaceable. Anyway, whatever you call yourself, dear readers, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving week. (Just don’t call us late to dinner, right?)