I understand this will be received as an unpopular opinion here, but we talk about Ronald Reagan too much. Hear me out:
I am a millennial conservative, which means I was born after Ronald Reagan was president, the first president I can remember is Bill Clinton, and the biggest event involving Ronald Reagan from my personal life I can remember is his death. Not that I don’t like Ronald Reagan; he was a masterful communicator of the conservative message who moved the conservative movement forward a generation. I’m just saying the actual personal appeal he has for me as one of the youths is rather limited.
Now, I’m not big on all the theories concerning how Barack Obama made young people liberal for a generation (he certainly didn’t for me), but based on conversations with my peers I do think the absolute saturation of Reagan in all of our political messages is undermining our cause among my fellow millennials. Like I said, most of use don’t have a personal memory of the actions of Reagan as president; he’s a historical figure. But while everyone reveres George Washington, the amount every American has learned about the presidency of Ronald Reagan is decidedly less.
The eyes of millennials more or less glaze over when a candidate promises to be like Reagan, although the increased ardor among voters who remember him might be worth it and I might be wrong, at least in the primary. However, I may not agree with the RNC much, but expanding the conservative coalition to include more young people is important. I disagree in sacrificing all of our values based on the whims of the consulting class, but I do think better communication of the message is a part of that. Therein lies the rub; we need a new Reagan, but any candidate who spends all their time talking about Reagan is not being a great communicator.
I’m not saying Reagan needs to be cut out of the conservative movement forever and forgotten; I’m not saying Reagan’s memory has no place in politics or will cost us the general election. I’m just saying that based on the debates, we invoke Reagan too much when a substantial amount of the American electorate literally can’t remember him. Essentially, we all need to focus on being more like Reagan and less on talking about him.