“And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.”
This quote from Ronald Reagan’s 1992 Republican Convention speech has struck me powerfully today.
Those who know me know that I rarely quote Reagan or Republicans (though my other favorite quote of the 40th President is “There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.“)
But with the current campaign climate and all its nastiness, a change of tone surfaced when this quote came up during the coverage of the passing of Nancy Reagan today.
The lovely and circumspect quote above clarified to me why this season’s Republican presidential campaign is so distasteful and disgusting to me:
No one is appealing to our “best hopes.” Everyone is appealing to our “worst fears.”
That is precisely why no one is inspiring my “confidence.” The candidates have instead sensationalized and over-generalized various topics, pitted groups of Americans against each other, lashed out at other nations and cultures, demeaned their fellow candidates, magnified people’s doubts, and turned the whole affair into a circus when it could have been an intelligent, compassionate and cogent series of dialogues and debates.
Not that such tactics are anything new. But I’d like to think that one day our country will have a handful of candidates on both sides of the aisle who don’t merely quote their beloved predecessors every 2.3 minutes but actually emulate them — or better yet, surpass them as servant-leaders. Here’s to hoping.