Ronald Reagan is the epitome of what a conservative Republican should be.  The man spurred tremendous economic and nationalistic growth by cutting taxes and helped to end the oppression that was the Soviet Union.  He was solid in his beliefs and convictions, gifted as an orator, and he was, and still is, loved by many on both sides of the aisle.  Recently, there have been many attempts, not just from the Left, but also by some on the Right, to label Ronald Reagan as a “moderate” or a “RINO.”  I find this accusation to be a bit absurd; Reagan used his common sense during his tenure as President to save our nation. Throughout his term, Reagan’s actions exemplified conservative values, and the nation prospered under his leadership.  Knowing this, what is the basis for the RINO argument?

1.  Reagan, as governor, once installed a tax increase. Yes, Reagan cut taxes and spurred growth but he also had a tax increase. Reagan agreed to said tax increase on the promise of 3 to 1 spending cuts with a Democrat controlled Congress.  Recently, we saw candidates in the current GOP field say they wouldn’t take a 10-1 cuts to tax increase.  If we could cut spending by 10% and only increase taxes by 1%, I think the conservative Ronald Reagan would probably agree that is was the best thing to do.

2.  Reagan signed an act that many would label as amnesty with the Immigration and Control Reform Act of 1986.  At the time of this bill, there were around 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Under this act, current “illegal aliens” were allowed to stay in the United States even if they were in violation of the law.  He felt that it was better to allow them to stay and work, contribute tax revenues, and smooth the path to citizenship.

3.  Reagan compromised a lot. Personally, I feel compromise is the only way to truly get work done in Washington, at least with the current make-up of the branches.  Reagan once said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.” This is a sentiment that has been lost in recent days.  Compromise doesn’t mean that one has become a moderate; it means that they have chosen to win small battles in the hope that those will lead to larger victories.  At the time, Reagan wasn’t able to pass many bills that had been proposed by Republicans, as he was working with a Democrat-controlled House (which he had for most of his tenure), meaning the only way to pass anything was to compromise.  When you don’t have control of both Chambers of Congress you must work together to get good bills passed, Reagan was willing to do this.  That shows strong leadership, not compromised beliefs.  Perhaps government should operate similarly today in order to restore this nation to its proud past.

Those who say that Reagan was a RINO are wrong.  Reagan was a great conservative. He cut taxes and controlled sky high inflation.  He lowered unemployment and spurred some of the greatest economic growth this nation has ever seen. In today’s world of hyper-partisan politics, we all need to take a step back and look at ways where we could compromise in order to get things done to save this great nation.

Andrew Staroska // Wright State University // @OHCONSERVATISM