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Why Ronald Reagan Spoke of ‘The Eleventh Commandment’

Ronald Reagan

I was a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. I eagerly campaigned for him on both coasts in both of his presidential races and served proudly in his administration. With the recent CPAC meeting in Washington, D.C., I was led to re-read Ronald Reagan’s 1977 CPAC speech. It was a gem. He spoke of a New Republican Party, a party that welcomed new members and sought to build a majority in the country.

What’s especially interesting about Reagan’s 1977 CPAC speech is what he did not say. He did not cast blame for the disaster of Watergate, the Republican rout in the 1974 mid-terms, or the tossed-away opportunities of 1976. Reagan was relentlessly upbeat and positive.

Reagan was intent on building a new majority. He was an expert in “outreach” before the GOP employed the term. Reagan had been riding the rails for 20 years as a “pitchman” for GE. The media used that pitchman description as a putdown. But Reagan, as he so often did, turned it to his advantage. When you are selling a product, you need to learn what sells – and what doesn’t. He had perfect pitch.

That’s why Ronald Reagan invented the “Eleventh Commandment.” He spelled it out for reporters. When they came to him with sharp criticisms from other Republicans, Reagan would genially wave them off with this explanatory note: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” That’s what he always said.

No one ever heard of this so-called commandment before Ronald Reagan. And no one, seemingly, has heard of it since. But what he achieved with it is truly amazing.

When Reagan sought the Republican nomination for president in 1980, his main opponent, George H.W. Bush, said his tax cut proposals were “voodoo economics.” Reporters took that barb and raced to get Reagan’s reaction to it. You can rely on it: Anytime one Republican gets into a fight with another, the reporters will happily hold both coats.

Reagan simply smiled and invoked his Eleventh Commandment. He ignored the criticism. And thus he ignored the critic. Now, Reagan knew that the supporters of each of his six opponents in 1980 – George H.W. Bush, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, John Connally, Phil Crane, and John Anderson – would be needed in the fall against Jimmy Carter. He didn’t want any of those backers of rival candidates to be embittered toward him. So he gave them no excuse to go fishing on Election Day.

He was reaching out to Independent voters. Reagan knew that Independents absolutely hate partisan bickering. It’s one of the reasons they are Independents. By not attacking other Republicans, Reagan avoided getting into the gutter of “so’s your old man” petty politics.

Finally, Reagan the former Democrat knew that lots of Democrats are conservative, but they don’t much like Republicans. By not engaging in backbiting with other Republicans, Reagan was able to appear to these conservative Democrats as someone different from other Republicans. Which he surely was.

On Election Day, Reagan won 85 percent of Republican voters and 27 percent of Democratic voters. And Independents, especially those who decided in the last week before Election Day, went overwhelmingly for Reagan. He carried 44 states that time. And there were no Red States or Blue States. To Reagan, all our states are Red, White, and Blue.

Re-reading his CPAC speech of 37 years ago, I’m amazed at how fresh and current it sounds today. That may be because, as George Will rightly said: Reagan spoke to the future in the accents of the past. That’s a leader. That’s a statesman. That’s a winner.

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Yea, Reagan was about building a new Republican Party by reaching out to non-Republicans by appealing to their hearts. But unlike today's GOP, he was about selling conservative principles, not compromising them to persuade disenchanted Democrats that Republicans too were Democrats. Reagan believed in reducing the GOP message to the 3 most important core conservative principles. Today's GOP is AT WAR with conservative principles.

So I really don't know why this essay lecturing us about Reagan's 11th commandment is relevant. If the GOP doesn't honor that commandment in it's war against the Tea Party, we would be utter fools to honor it as we entertain the possibility of forming a new party.

Reagan was different

"It depends upon whose ox is being gored!" As a chief executive who raised taxes over 15 times in his political career, I imagine Reagan would have been (and should have been) pretty vulnerable to criticism!


I loved Ronald Reagan. As a young foot soldier who worked tirelessly for the "American Renaissance" which Reagan talked about, I worked overtime to help insure my country would not go down the drain. The former governor of my home state in Georgia was already president and it was more than I could tolerate. I became involved in politics even as a young kid. I guess the nail in the coffin was when Carter decided he was going to destroy parts of the prestigious neighborhoods surrounding Emory University to build a road for his Presidential Library that would directly link the Carter Presidential Library with Emory University. I believe he envisioned a Super CFR think tank which he would continue to work in after his Presidency. My ancestors had taught at Emory and several were in the first graduating class when it started out as Oxford University in Oxford, Georgia. The room mate of one of my ancestors at college went on to serve and become a Supreme Court Justice. His name was Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar and the Emory Law school was named the Lamar Law school in his honor. This was just a small glimpse of the history of my beloved south which I knew was in deep trouble when Carter pushed his library. At that time, I was friends with Dr and Mrs Norman Harbaugh who helped to spearhead the road blocks and court fight against Carter as he sought to build his highway starting from his Library on Copen Hill, the very spot where General Sherman sat on his horse while his troops burned Atlanta to the ground. Ms Harbaugh did some research and found out that a small park close to her house was landscaped by the famous landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead. She put together a committee for the preservation of the park and during the court fight with Carter that ensued fought the destruction of it which was directly in the path of the Carter Presidential Library. With Gods help, the court refused President jimmy Carter and Mayor Andrew Youngs request via Georgia Dot to build the road. Ronald Reagan would go on to defeat Jimmy Carter and as a kid I had high hopes for the country. However, something happened that altered the vision of the Grand Republic. Yes, the CFR Globalists had co-opted the Reagan Presidency along with their Trotskyite Neocon friends. So, most all that myself and other kids my age had fought for pretty much was down the tubes for lack of a better word. The idea that America would get her strenght from its citizens on main street and broad street was over. With them in charge, the grand republic would continue to be ruled by an elite oligarch that worked hand in hand with the chosen representatives of Congress to pass legislation that stripped the Republic of its Sovereignty, faith in God and finally dismanteling of the industrial base of our country and shipping middle class jobs to china, india, mexico, costa rica, and now thailand and vietnam, the American middle class was in great danger of becoming extinct. The Oligarchs vision of a North American Union similar to the European Union was not that far off. This is the eventual plan. Some people make money off of the so called Conservative movement and Tea party movement. Money is not my cup of tea when it comes to selling out our country. Ronald Reagan was a good man but he made many mistakes. One of them was trusting the snakes and vipers who co-opted his presidency and for that our country has PAID dearly. I WILL NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE!!