Skip to main content

Ronald Reagan was right!?!  Yes, President Reagan, not his son of the same name (whose politics, we all like better than his father's).  Some people will probably go crazy just by the title*, but I am not talking policy I am talking politics.  Remember the Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."  To many liberals of the '70s and '80s, this was something to be scoffed at, and used as evidence of Reagan's "fascist" tendencies.  Not true.  Join me on the flip for a little history, and why many of us can learn a little from the Gipper.


Here's the history of Reagan's commandment and its genesis:

During Ronald Reagan's 1966 campaign for governor of California, Republicans established the so-called Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

It was proposed by State Republican Chairman Gaylord Parkinson to help prevent a repeat of the liberal Republican assault on Barry Goldwater that laid the foundation for Goldwater's trouncing in the 1964 presidential election. Just as Nelson Rockefeller and his East Coast cronies had branded Goldwater as an "extremist" who was unfit to hold office, so candidate George Christopher and California's liberal Republicans were leveling similar personal attacks on Reagan. Party liberals eventually followed Parkinson's advice, and the rest is history.

Sound familiar?  Reagan, like his ideological brother Goldwater, was not a "mainstream" Republican of his day.  He thought his parties' leaders were too wishy-washy; too much like Democrats.  Ike, although a Republican, ruled more like a New Deal Democrat (although with a little more conservative edge to him at times).  LBJ, an unpopular war-time president running an unpopular war, was able to win reelection in part by manipulating the more "moderates" in the "opposition" party to speak out against Goldwater as too "extreme."  Sound familiar?  Sure it does.  Substitute Ike for Clinton, LBJ for Bush and, to some degree, Dean for Goldwater.

Reagan's genius was recognizing that in-party sniping gets you nowhere.  And after a long-battle, he would unite the Republican party years later.  Today, Republicans have learned from Reagan ---  and not just the politicians, but the whole Republican machine, including its presence in the media.  The New Republic, although supportive of our politics perhaps (they even pretty much agree with us and the clear majority of the American people on the war now), is part of a larger problem among Democrats.  They get off on portraying themselves as "mainstream" and "moderate."  But their energies are focused on other Democrats, not on Republicans.  

Could you imagine the National Review or The Weekly Standard acting like TNR and going after others in the movement? On their own? And so personally?  I mean, sure, if they are confronted with evidence that a Republican blogger is a plagiarist, they will denounce him.**  BUT do you think they would have went out and independently created such a story?  Of course not.  They spend their time going after the Democrats . . . AND going after Republicans who do not abide by Reagan's Eleventh Commandment (such as Arlen Specter, their Joe Lieberman***).  Could you imagine the National Review wasting its time going after other Republicans when the other party is in such a vulnerable position?  No, they would be kicking us when we were down, and rightfully so.  (The fact that Zengerle, Peretz, and co. are wasting their ammunition on others in the party is disgusting.)

This is all TNR has left to distinguish itself from the rest of the progressive movement.  It proved itself wrong when it supported the war -- and its editor just endorsed a man who vehemently opposed the war for President in '08.  All they have left to show "credibility is to attack the hordes in the blogosphere who were way ahead of them.   From now on, we must just ignore them.  In other words, screw them.  And in retrospect, Kos should not have even responded to those clowns (I understand why he responded and I would have been even less measured, but perhaps that's why I am not running this community).  

The fact is this: we must have our own Reagan Rule.  No speaking ill of other Democrats, except those who violate the Reagan Rule and, unless they are politicians such as Lieberman, we should ignore them.  We must stop giving the Republicans, in this time where we have a huge advantage against them, ammunition.  

*I know that progressives in the generation above mine (I'm 30) have an intense dislike for Reagan that most progressives of my age do not; perhaps it is because Reagan was the President of our childhood that despite the many bad things he did, we still can't help but have some fondness.

**Whether this is intentional I do not know, but the links to the Corner's discussion of the Ben Domenech scandal all do not seem to work.  Learn from that if you want.

***Lieberman's sin, of course, is not ideology.  We endorse those who are more "conservative" than he (Schweitzer, Webb, etc.).  His sin is violation of our own Eleventh Commandment.

Originally posted to NewDem on Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 05:30 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Goldwater was a extremist (0+ / 0-)

    Reagan was a bastard, and Joe is worse than either were, he just doesn't have the power to prove it. When you have Hannity offering to fund your run, Coulter urging him to just take the leap into the republican't party, and he wont do it, just shows how little of a backbone the man has. He belongs behind one of the bar  in the tv show Deadwood.
     As to your main point about the 11th com.,I have been pleasantly surprised to see our people in DC acting more like a part of a unified group than they have in a long time. Kerry and Feingold are fulfilling a needed role This pantyraid blog war that is going on ,is little more than growing pains of a few teenagers yet to learn that every action has a reaction. It can be a very hard lesson for some to learn, many a teenager, feeling invincible, has gone over the cliff while playing Chicken. Virtual cliffs may not be as final, but then that is all relative isn't it ?
    (p.s. I'm sure this is more personal to those involved and I did not mean to be insenitive) (( well to anyone on our side anyway))

    -8.63 -7.28 He was carrying a skateboard on his back, a red rose in his fist, and the war.

    by OneCrankyDom on Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 06:19:19 PM PDT

  •  Good analysis, but (0+ / 0-)

    strict adherence to the Reagan Rule imposes duties on us too, not just on institutions like TNR.  There are an enormous number of diaries and comments on this site trashing Democrats for their votes on various issues.  Kos, Armando, and others on this site have done a pretty good job reminding us that Republicans are our real opponents, and that the most important votes are the ones for Speaker and Majority Leader.  But one of this site's purposes is to reform the Democratic Party from within, and this requires a certain amount of criticism of our own party.  

    Rather than applying the Reagan Rule strictly--i.e. that we should never speak ill of Democrats except Lieberman-types who violate the rule first--we should use it to set priorities.  Criticism of fellow Democrats should always be done in moderation, mindful of the fact that we have more similarities than differences.  If we find ourselves using more keystrokes to attack Democrats than Republicans, our priorities have become skewed.  It seems like TNR regards liberal blogs as something to be hated and feared, whereas Republicans are merely somewhat undesirable.  If TNR's editors were given the choice between continued Republican rule, and rule by Kos-like Democrats, I'm not sure what they'd choose.  Their priorities are definitely wrong.  However, we must remember not to waste more time attacking them than attacking Republicans.  TNR is still basically a liberal magazine, despite their tolerance for right-wing ideas and loathing of left-wing ideas.  Criticize them or ignore them--but don't attack them with the vehemence that should be reserved for our real political opponents.  

    For what it's worth, Joe Lieberman has my support in the general election--IF he fairly defeats Lamont in the primary and runs as a Democrat.  He's still a Democrat (despite his warnings of an independent run), and our version of the Eleventh Commandment applies to him too (for now).  But there's nothing wrong with a primary challenge against him.  Primaries are the proper forums for intra-party disputes, not general elections.  

  •  There are two words you never see together.. (0+ / 0-)

    .. anymore in their true context: "liberal republican"

    I'm old enough to remember Eisenhower as president. There was talk of him being a "liberal" before his nomination and first term. I'm quite sure he would be regarded as not only a "liberal" by the present-day GOP, but probably kicked out of the party.

    My, my... how times have changed...

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 06:37:13 PM PDT

    •  Here's a quote from him (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      n the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

      The media wouldn't let someone with those views win even the Democratic nomination today.

  •  LBJ did not run in 1964 as an unpopular war (0+ / 0-)

    president.  He ran as the heir of the martyred JFK before serious escalation in Vietnam.  Moreover, it's been some time since Republicans observed Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment."  Indeed, Reagan ran against President Ford in 1976.

    As for TNRAlthough I rarely agree with everything in it, and find Marty Peretz too hardline on Israel, I value the variety of TNR's points of view, mostly within a broad liberal-to-center perspective.  I particularly enjoy the "back of the book" where, for example, one can read Martha Nussbaum's rapier-like take-down of Harvey Mansfield's Manlieness.

    Moreover, if Democrats were to adhere to a Reagan-like Eleventh Commandment, Lieberman would be a prime example of someone who should benefit from it.  Yes, he's been wrong on Iraq.  But his over-all voting record puts him well within a Democratic big tent.  I don't think we can have it both ways: an Eleventh Amendment or Lamont.

    •  I disagree about this part (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think we can have it both ways: an Eleventh Amendment or Lamont.

      If we apply a strict version of the Democratic Eleventh Commandment, then you're right.  However, as I argue above, I think it should be applied to set priorities rather than to ban all criticism of Democrats.  Even a primary challenge is okay--as long as we remember that our goal in politics is defeating Republicans, not defeating each other.  If we regard the Eleventh Commandment as a way to set priorities, then the Lamont campaign makes sense.  

      Joseph Lieberman has made his career by violating the Eleventh Commandment.  From his attacks on Bill Clinton in the late 1990s to his attacks on fellow Democrats today, he has always defined himself by his opposition to members of his own party.  This is why the Lamont campaign has so much support.  It's not because Lieberman is conservative.  There are plenty of conservative Democrats who are not facing serious primary challenges.  Nor is it because Lieberman is more conservative than the state of Connecticut.  Bob Casey is more conservative than Lieberman and he's running in a blue state.  But despite a handful of Kossians who passionately supported Casey's primary opponents, Casey cruised to the nomination with weak opposition from the netroots.  And yet the liberal blogosphere is largely united in its opposition to Lieberman.  I think this can only be explained by Lieberman's chronic violations of the Eleventh Commandment.  

      If I were to articulate a principle here, it would be something like "Speak ill of a fellow Democrat only when it will not help the Republicans."  Lieberman frequently violates this principle.  The question is whether we can attack him without also violating this principle.  I think we can--as long as we agree to support the Democratic nominee, even if it's Lieberman, against his Republican challenger in November.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site