A friend recently asked why I was so staunchly conservative. The question really made me think about all the things that I’ve experienced. But then it hit me… The three men that influenced my political leaning most were named Barry, Ron and Rush.
I met Senator Barry Goldwater when I was a very young adult serving in the Air Force in the early 1980s. I was part of an aircrew and we were assigned to do a “show and tell” demonstration of one of our aircraft at Andrews AFB in Washington D.C.. That day, several dignitaries visited our plane for a walk through and briefing about what we did and how we did it.
At one point, Senator Goldwater arrived. He had just recently gone through a double hip replacement. So, instead of climbing the stairs to enter the aircraft, ground crew had arranged for a forklift to raise him up to the side cargo door.
He was supposed to begin his tour in the cockpit, but he declined that offer. He was far more interested in hearing what the enlisted crew in the back had to say. By the time he reached me, the lowest ranking airman on the crew, he spent about an hour talking with me.
He was very interested in my point of view on several topics. He heard about my mission on the aircraft, but quickly changed the topic to discuss my personal experiences as an airman. He wanted to know things like the quality of my housing, how my wife got along with me being gone so much, how my pay met my needs, and so on. I was shocked and amazed at how this man who had once run for President was truly interested in my condition and life in the military.
While I was in technical training school, Jimmy Carter was President and Americans were taken hostage in Iran. We had about 25 Iranian Air Force officers in my school and I had become friends with some. How were we to treat these guys now that their new government had turned on us?
Ronald Reagan shortly became President and changed Carter’s edict that these guys were to be held in limbo indefinitely. President Reagan ordered them sent home unless they requested asylum (which about half of them did). That got my attention.
The next 8 years were significant in my personal move toward conservatism. Nixon proved to be an embarrassment to Republicans, and Carter was an embarrassment to the country. I was at a loss for political identity. But during these 8 years, I watched with great interest as Reagan changed the country and the world.
Immediately, the American hostages in Iran were released. Very quickly, he made those of us in the military proud again to be serving our country as he deeply proved his belief of “Peace through Strength”. He bolstered the military budget, both in pay raises and funding for better weapons. He also quickly implemented what became known as Reaganomics, which drastically improved inflation that plagued Carter.
There were far too many events where President Reagan were responsible for for me to list here. But the last was his powerful speech in Berlin, “Mr Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL”. I was stationed in Germany at the time, and this speech pulled at my heart strings. Shortly after, still stationed in Germany, the wall came crashing down.
Rush Limbaugh soared to stardom during the early 90s. I listened intently to his radio show at work. At first, I thought his arrogance was annoying. Later I realized it was just part of his act. What I found fascinating was the level of research Rush and his staff put into every point of view he espoused. His truths were not based on feelings and emotion, but facts backed up by recordings of famous people saying things (often embarrassing things).
BASIS OF MY CONSERVATISM
I learned quite a few lessons about conservatism from each of these three. From Senator Goldwater, I learned to be flexible and open minded in my conservatism, willing to compromise when necessary. He also taught me to always care about the little guy.
President Reagan taught me to be strong in my convictions, but not to lose my sense of humor along the way. He also helped me gain a sense of purpose and duty.
Rush Limbaugh taught me that knowledge brings with it incredible power, not to be misused. I’ve learned to use many resources in my search for the truth and in forming my opinions.
What do you think? Whether you are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, think about what led you there. If you’re interested, feel free to share in the Reply section below and let’s talk about it…
2 responses to “Barry, Ron and Rush”
One thing I really admired about Reagan was his friendship with Tip ONeil. While they disagreed about how to solve issues, they put that aside after work and were still friends.
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I loved reading your story about Barry Goldwater, and it makes me love him even more. I was also a huge fan of Ronald Reagan, and consider him one of history’s most outstanding leaders. However, in more recent years I realized how his policies were detrimental to the U.S. and we are still suffering from the consequences. Supply-side economics, for example, is just another elaborate scam to benefit the rich and powerful, at the expense of the working class. Trickle-down economics, Reganomics, or whatever you want to call it was simply a smokescreen. Yes, I always enjoyed Rush Limbaugh’s show, even after I flipped to lib in 1997. He always had a way of presenting politics in an interesting and entertaining way. May he rest in peace.
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