Symposium at Regent Honors Reagan's Legacy
- Symposium at Regent honors Reagan's legacy
By ROBERT MCCABE, The Virginian-Pilot
© February 4, 2006
Last updated: 11:40 PMVIRGINIA BEACH Ronald Reagan, who galvanized the American conservative movement and helped bring the Soviet Union to its knees, was just getting to know his way around the White House 25 years ago.He would have turned 95 on Monday.In honor of his legacy, Regent Universitys Robertson School of Government brought eight leading conservative thinkers to its Virginia Beach campus on Friday as part of a symposium titled The Future of American Conservatism.About 500 people attended the event, where they heard such conservative luminaries as Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report, William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University, reflect on where the conservative movement in the United States is and where its headed.Other speakers were author George H. Nash; Peter A. Lawler, professor at Berry College; author and commentator Allan C. Carlson; James W. Ceaser, a professor at the University of Virginia; and Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of World Magazine and a journalism professor at the University of Texas.While the direction of American conservatism was the theme, the literal and figurative backdrop was Reagan himself. A giant screen hanging at the back of the stage included an iconic image of his smiling face, along with a quote attributed to him in the mid 1980s: the vision to dream of a better, safer world and the courage, persistence, and patience to turn that dream into reality.Is unity possible? said Charles Dunn, dean of the Robertson School at Regent, who in his opening remarks cited the proliferation of diverse viewpoints within conservative ranks in the post-Reagan era.The range of topics among the speakers seemed to underscore the urgency of his question: The Future of Neoconservatism; Add, Dont Subtract: How Evangelicals Should Engage American Culture; Stuck-With-Virtue Conservatism; A Plea for Constitutional Conservatism; and From 'Reagan Democrats to 'Social Conservatives: Hard Choices Facing the Pro-Family Cause.Nash, a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, cited a discernible note of unease within American conservatism.There is a sense, moreover, in parts of the conservative intellectual community, that 'the old gray mare, she aint what she used to be, he said.Though various camps have emerged, including traditionalists, neoconservatives and the religious right, Nash said a crack up of the movement was not around the corner.The disintegration of the American Right seems unlikely anytime soon, he said.Carlson expressed concern that Republicans have grown too closely allied with big business interests. While citing a number of gains the Republican Party has made to help traditional families since 1980, there are still problems, he said.The failure to extend day-care tax credits to families with stay-at-home moms or dads, bankruptcy reform and the emergence of a credit-card industry that preys on cash-strapped families are three cases where the Republican Party has let families down, Carlson said.All three are areas where the interests of big business and the interests of average families collided, and in each case the Republican Party sided in the end with business, Carlson said.Melissa V. Pinard, who has a graduate degree from Regent and now edits the alumni magazine at The College of William and Mary, was among those in the audience.The reason I came here today is Ronald Reagan was my hero growing up, she said, adding that thinking of him inspires her to work for the betterment of the country.The symposium energized her, she said.Its reinvigorated my optimism for the future of American conservatism, Pinard said. I think weve lost some of the optimism, the faith, the hope, the courage which we had with Reagan.Reach Robert McCabe at (757) 222-5217 or Robert.McCabe@....
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