by Michael Neal

Conservative Icon, President Ronald Reagan, has to be spinning in his grave!Sure – many things have changed since the 80’s, but the foundation of how a conservative governs has not.

As Conservatives, we find ourselves in an era of “All-or-Nothing-ism,” in which we seem to take every single issue to the brink – and almost always implode for it.

Now, I am about as far to the right as they come.

I’m pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage, pro-states rights, and all about the free market.

But one thing that I’ve learned having been on both sides of the political universe (government and campaign) is that not everything can be an “all-or-nothing” stance.

In fact, very little can be.

To coin the cliché – eventually, everybody ignores the boy who cried wolf. We cannot allow ourselves to become that.

Ronald Reagan was the master of deal-making. He had to be in order to get anything done.

Why? Because all 8 years of his presidency, the Democrats controlled the U.S. House of Representatives under Speakers Tip O’Neill, and later, Jim Wright.

That fact doesn’t stop us conservatives from clinging to the name and legacy of Reagan as a basis for how we govern. But what’s happening today is nothing like the governance of “The Gipper.”

Reagan knew what his set of principles were. And honestly, he never had to budge from them.

He also knew that not everything was a principle, and that’s where he applied his strong negotiation skills.

We conservatives have to get back to a simple truth: We can only move our agenda if we keep our seat at the table.

Meaning – if we keep leaving the governing and negotiation process over every little thing a blogger tells us or something we don’t like about a bill, we will only lose ground.

If every single item is our “last stand,” no one will take us seriously when it actually is.

This in no way means I am calling on conservatives to abandon our principles. For the sake of the future of America, we cannot.

But I am calling conservatives back home to a solutions-based model of governing. It’s the only way we get what we believe into law.

Knowing what to stand on, knowing what to negotiate on, and yes – knowing the right time to walk away is essential. But walking away cannot be our default position.

Thomas Jefferson said it best: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”


Michael Neal is a Hoosier political leader and Former member of the Pence Administration. The opinions are his.