Reagan Revolution Essay Contest

By Steve Parkhurst

Recently, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), posted a challenge on their Facebook page, an essay contest. The objective:

Write an essay describing your thoughts about the future of the conservative/libertarian movement. Is the Reagan revolution over? If so, with the end of the Reagan revolution, where do we go now? Over the past 30 years, the conservative movement has elected presidents and majorities in both houses of congress, but we have seen an unprecedented growth in government spending, increased abortions rights, gun laws, and liberalization of all social issues. What is the solution for 2010 and beyond? Your essay should not exceed 500 words.

For the fun of it (yes, I find this fun), I wrote just shy of 500 words with my thoughts. I am posting my essay below.

Recently, I completed Craig Shirley’s mammoth work on Reagan’s 1980 campaign, Rendezvous With Destiny. The book contains over 600 pages of writing, and it’s well over 700 pages when you include bibliography and resource notes. I think trying to sum up anything regarding Ronald Reagan and the Revolution he started in as few as 500 words is completely impossible. All one can do is try to get close by summing up key themes, key ideas. I tried to do this with my writing. I’m interested in your thoughts.


The Reagan Revolution is NOT over. The premise of the first part of the question is correct, there was and is an ongoing Revolution started by Reagan, and it has yet to end or be completed.

In 1980, Reagan campaigned on a simple theme, boiled down to five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. In those five words laid the promise of a great nation and the core of what makes her people tick.

The heirs of the Revolution stopped talking WITH America and instead started speaking AT America. We live in the Web 2.0 world, where conversations take place and the flow of information is up and down, left and right. We no longer live in the world where being talked AT is the way to share with people the greatness of America.

Our side must get back to the Reagan model. Go back and study Reagan. Reagan believed what he said, he genuinely loved America and he believed in her people. His background in radio and movies helped him communicate, it was easy for him to stand in front of the American people and tell them what he was seeing and what he thought about it. Reagan was not born “The Great Communicator”, Reagan evolved into that role.

We need statesmen today who believe in the American people and who can communicate policies that assist the American people in achieving the American dream, rather than policies that hinder the people’s ability to achieve greatness. To move forward in 2010 and beyond, we must have an entire movement, not just one leader, but an entire movement that will look to those five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. That movement must focus on these ideals, going back to Reagan’s axiom when he called us a “community of shared values”.

When our movement has elected presidents or both houses of congress, we have become too timid, too afraid to over step for fear of angering the American people. Instead, if we were following the Reagan model, we would never stop talking with the American people, and the support of the people would be enough to achieve the successes we want based on the principles that unite us as Americans. We must talk in positive ways about the things that matter most to the American people.

The Reagan Revolution is not over. Those that will rise to the challenge will carry the mantle forward and continue the Revolution that Reagan started. There was a reason why the Revolution began, there was a need for it, there was a place in the heart of the American people for such an occurrence. That place in the heart of America is still there. We can get back to it with courage and resilience to do what is right, and with focus on those five words: Family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. Let’s continue the Reagan Revolution, and as Reagan once did, let’s have a “conversation with America” again.