Last night I spoke to the Pima County Republican Women at a tribute to Ronald Reagan in Tucson. It was an outstanding event, made even more special by jelly beans and little “WWRD — What Would Ronnie Do?” signs.
I noted that one of the reasons Reagan was so effective was his congeniality, and his ability to win over everyone from Tip O’Neill and foreign leaders with personal charm and kindness. Then I said:

“This is a lesson our Party desperately needs to be reminded of today. We have a number of core Republican principles – with PRO-PAC I’ve noted 9 key issues. But someone who agrees with us on 7 or 8 of the 9 issues is our friend, not our enemy. Right now we have a tendency to take people who agree with us on 7 or 8 of these 9 issues and shoot them. Our Party is a coalition. The end result of destroying each other with harsh language and insults is that we destroy unity, discourage participation and guarantee that we will be governed by a Democrat who agrees with us on ZERO of the 9 core positions.”

Being kind does not mean backing off your position. We have primary elections and platform battles because it is important to debate and decide what we stand for as a political party. But being kind does mean giving people the benefit of the doubt regarding their motives. Sen. Jon Kyl is not a traitor for trying to improve a bad bill, and those of us who opposed the immigration bill because it contained insufficient border security measures are not racists. I thought Rep. John Shadegg’s thoughtful opposition to the immigration bill was right on the mark, especially his even-handed acknowledgement that overheated rhetoric on both sides of this important debate has been destructive.
I think Reagan would be proud of Congressman Shadegg’s leadership. I know I am.


  1. Len, I affirm and appreciate the irenic tone of this blog. I have met too many Republicans who are ‘9ers’ who leave me out in the cold. I am glad that we have some common ground. Will you be posting Ronald Reagan’s 9 points sometime soon?

  2. Interestingly, I picked up a copy of Stephen Shadegg’s book about Barry Goldwater at an antique store last week and read the first two chapters about a fight over a labor union bill sponsored by a different Kennedy -JFK- in 1959 and saw eerie parallels to the current immigration debacle.
    Conservatives do need to recognize that there are some things in this bill that have been in the queue to change or eradicate (benefiting Conservative philosophy mind you) since I started following this issue in 1983.
    Though this bill looks like a ball of yarn after kittens have had their go, and a vociferous “grass roots” voice is happy to sound the buzzer, I appreciate the hard work that has been attempted at taking some action to change the status quo. So if we are in the end zone and no bill is passed, what next? And more importantly, when?

  3. I couldn’t agree more! It is very disheartening to read on the other blogs the manner in which other Republicans attack each other. We need to remember who our real opposition is: tax-raising Democrats who we cannot trust to carry out the war on terror. Thanks for being a uniter, Len!

  4. “I appreciate the hard work that has been attempted at taking some action to change the status quo.”
    I cannot tell you the times I have heard a similar statement from Sen.Kyle and other supporters of this CIRA of 2007. Has anyone ever really examined just why the “status quo” is what it is and why it is so untenable? Try this, the Federal government has been an abysmal failure at enforcing the laws on immigration enacted with the 1986 “Amnesty”. The “status quo” that no one wants to endure would go away were those elected/charged with enforcing our current laws to simply do their job. It is beyond my comprehension that Americans can trust a government to enforce new, even more complex border security/immigration laws when they have shown for over 20 years that they have no intention of ever doing so.
    I believe this current immigration debate eclipses every divisive political issue that Republicans and Democrats have ever fought over. This is not a tax issue, an education issue, an abortion issue, a gun control issue. This is about the abolition of this nation’s sovereignty and a diminuation of the rule of law that binds our Republic. This is an issue so significant and important that it transcends party allegiences and even friendships. The line has clearly been drawn in the sand, and it seems that those we in this state elected to represent our interests in Washington, have chosen their side of that line. That is the very reason the tone and civility is so poisoned in this debate. Many of us are not on the side they have chosen.

  5. Thank you for striking the correct tone on this. Our nation is too divided and it is seen even inside the parties itself. We need to remember to give honor where honor is due… being mean-spirited because others see differently never helps our cause, it just makes us look bad. I appreciate your willingness to listen to different opinions and stick up for your own personal beliefs in a proper way. Thank you for doing such a great job!

  6. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you when you speak nicely of John Kyl and his role in this amnesty fiasco. I am so very disappointed in Kyl and President Bush. They have treated the conservative (backbone) of their party very poorly and I feel that we have literally be told that our views do not count and the illegal immigrants are in the right while we are expendable.
    I love this country and this bill will have very deep seated effects on our country in the next 20 years. They have given our nation away, along with our social security, our English language, ect. In 20 years this country will belong to the illegal immigrants. We will be a minority, and these illegal (then legal) immigrants will be deciding who gets elected to office and where out taxes go. We will have socialized medicine and the welfare that was stopped several years ago by Newt Gingrich and the true Republican conservatives will be back fourfold. This is not my vision of the country that I love and as I will protest it as long and as loud as I can.

  7. I am definetely not a 9’er, but just like the majority of us I am looking for common ground over this issue. Lets hope that the debate over this bill next week will result in an over haul of the system and a just treatment of our citizens who want to see our borders secure, and expect a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws.

  8. Len: I have a major concern re the immigration issue. I read the Shadegg article you referenced. You are both missing the most urgent issue: SECURE THE BORDER FIRST. God loves the illegal immigrant just like He love us. The rampant incresse of non-assimilating Mexicans with loyalty to Mexico may be a disaster in our lifetime. BUT: Assume there are no terrorists entering legally or homegrown, and assume only 1 out of 10,000 illegal entrants is a terrorist, and that the 12 million illegals number is correct, then right now the USA has enough terrorists to repeat 9-11 more than 60 times. All the very real ills of the status quo and the proposed legislation pale in comparison to the threat our policies are allowing to grow daily: dirity bombs, spread of diseases worse than anthrax, and acts we have not considered. We must immediately secure not just our southern border, but sea costs, the northern border and the airports. If we have to activate every Reservist and Guardsman, do it. If we have to pull our forces out of Iraq, do it.

  9. Richard — During my campaign for Governor and since I have never deviated from my view that we must first secure the border for reasons of nation security. My signs said “Secure Border Now!” I still hold that view, but am frustrated that some Republicans on both sides of the debate are alienating each other by vitriolic and unfair accusations. We must learn to disagree without killing each other or we will destroy the Party.

  10. Len, Just read your reply to Richard L. Nix – I believe you have read this one correctly.


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