As we know Ronald Reagan during his 1966 campaign for Governor of California uttered the phrase “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Reagan pledged to follow the 11th commandment during his run for governor of California in the mid-1960s and stayed true to its principle throughout his entire career in public office. Political pundits have speculated that his support for diplomacy among Republicans stemmed from a number of areas, but all agree that it had an unparalleled impact on the country, especially the Republican Party.
When Reagan was rising to political prominence, he was doing so in a party that was greatly divided. The 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater by Lyndon Johnson for the presidency had left the party at risk of fracture. Goldwater’s brand of Republicanism, involving more liberally social policies, a strong backing of the separation of church and state and fiscally conservative policies, didn’t sit well with some, and the election was followed by finger-pointing and disagreement over the future of the party.
Reagan’s 11th commandment was born in response to that conflict. Reagan knew that division and divisiveness wouldn’t help the party rebound from the presidential loss; rather, he saw the path forward as being reliant on unity. If the party was going to take back the White House, Reagan believed, it couldn’t get to that point if its leaders didn’t agree on what comprises the basic Republican ideals. Further, attacking or maligning other Republican figureheads would only keep the party further from its goals.
The Reagan 11th commandment was a mainstay during his time as governor and later as president, as he chose to keep debate with fellow Republicans civil and straightforward, instead of the accusatory attacks that have become common in 21st-century politics. In so doing, Reagan set a precedent for Republican ideals that the country is still striving for, one that promotes unity and sets an example for moral and civic leadership.
Fast forward sixty years and obviously we have strayed far from Reagan’s guidance that kept him and the Republican Party in good stead. I sit here today and watch the eight Senate District 1 Republican candidates vying for office it is apparent that some still embrace the Gipper’s guidance, but others have cast is aside in the hopes if perhaps a short political term gain. I still respect them but wonder if this tactic to attack your fellow party member is really what is best for the Republican Party and the path to victory in November – I think not. Rather than to continue to assault each other within the GOP because one is not “red enough” it is time to stop the internecine warfare and focus on beating the political party that is the existential threat to our very existence and way of life.
Perhaps it is time to invoke the Eleventh Commandment while we still have a viable Republican Party. Failure to do so will only give credence to those on the left who continue to gain strength at our expense. I have seen first-hand the devastating impact that Socialism can have on a free economy. Think it cannot happen here, well think again my friend.