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Jul 07th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice “Filipino-American Reagan Democrats’ Council of L.A.” Takes Off
“Filipino-American Reagan Democrats’ Council of L.A.” Takes Off PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Friday, 17 August 2007 15:58
Last Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007, several members of the Media Breakfast Club agreed to form the forerunner of a Political Action Committee (PAC). They agreed to name it tentatively the “Filipino-American Reagan Democrats’ Council of Los Angeles” (FARDCLA).

The proponents belong to the Democratic Party but they share the late President Ronald Reagan’s so-called Holy Trinity: Less taxes, less government and a strong national-defense policy. They share also Mr. Reagan’s passion against abortion.

Yes, the FARDCLA founders like a lot former California Governor Ronald W. Reagan, who became the President of the United States at age 69.

The Example of Ronald Reagan

Yes, Mr. Reagan was an actor who served for two terms as the President of the United States. But we have to remember that before Mr. Reagan became the President, he was elected twice as the governor of the biggest state of the Union. As governor of California, Mr. Reagan was able to obtain the necessary experience in dealing with socioeconomic and governmental issues. And before he became governor, Mr. Reagan was an active leader in, and served as president of, the Screen Actors Guild. He participated in labor negotiations, labor-management relations and work-related issues. Prior to his entering politics, Mr. Reagan became the paid spokesman of General Electric and he became, therefore, familiar with the numerous businesses of the conglomerate – from jet engines to nuclear-power plants and the other aspects of the country's military-industrial complex. Besides, Mr. Reagan was called the "Great Communicator."

The Reagan presidency is a model to emulate even for the Philippines. The first thing that we agreed upon was that the Filipino homeland needs a Ronald Reagan-like leader. The Reagan Administration was linked to only one scandal – the illegal arms sale to Iran, where the profits were used to bankroll the right-wing elements in the Nicaraguan civil war. But even then, the scandal did not benefit financially Mr. Reagan and any of his aides or supporters.

Here are some of President Reagan’s major attributes and accomplishments:

1. The passion to comply with the original meaning of the United States constitution and which showed the depth and scope of his formidable intellect and grasp of constitutional issues even if he was not a lawyer. President Reagan considered the “We, the People” phrase in the constitution as the paramount dictum.

2. The appointment of the first woman member of the United States Supreme Court in the person of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

3. Adherence to the policy of “trickle-down” economics, which actually pulled the country out of the recession of the late 1970s and the early 1980s. This should be studied together with Mr. Reagan’s policy that the government served better the poor by assuring strong economic growth than by distributing social-welfare benefits.

4. Imaginative use of the “line-item” veto power of the presidency in reducing the budget, as proposed by the United States Congress, and cutting down the excessive pork-barrel allocations.

5. The institution of a sound-fiscal revenue policy by simplifying the tax rates, taxing less (tax cuts) and advocating less government. This Mr. Reagan did also when he was governor of California and simplifying the process of tax collection paved the way for the state to become eventually as the world’s sixth biggest economy.

6. Advocating a consistent philosophy of the “devolution of social policy" from the federal government to the states, giving more power to the 50 states and reducing the size of the federal government. (This is a good argument for the “Federal Republic form of government” that some Filipino national leaders like Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., are advocating for the Philippines.)

7. Giving more powers and the freedom to initiate reforms to the members of his Cabinet while he was California governor and when he became the President.
8. While governor of California, Mr. Reagan started the practice of “unemployment insurance,” a policy that he pushed nationwide when he became the President.

9. The healing of the nation by swiftly negotiating for the release of the American hostages in Teheran, Iran, and making the American people look good and feel good once again. In short, President Reagan offered to America and to the world a vision better than the status quo. And the world responded by having a series of peaceful people-powered revolutions that brought democracy back to the Philippines and the Eastern-European countries, literally ending the Cold War and disintegrating the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

Be Like Ronald Reagan

Perhaps the next Philippine President should be like Mr. Reagan and emulate his fine use of excellent wit and contagious humor. To borrow the words of former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who succeeded Mr. Reagan, leaders should speak the language of the ordinary people as Mr. Reagan did, so that they can touch their hearts and make them feel good about the future. Mr. Reagan was actually a man of letters. Putting down his thoughts into writing enabled Mr. Reagan to have the basic step in becoming the “Great Communicator.” But above all, Mr. Reagan was the “Great Listener,” as he heard and heeded the views and opinions of leaders and laymen alike. President Reagan never made enemies out of his adversaries. There are so many anecdotes that tell of how President Reagan would phone legislators from the opposing party and request them to support his legislative proposals. When the Democratic congressmen and senators would balk at his initiatives, Mr. Reagan would still thank them for giving him the time to speak with them

Perhaps indeed the Filipino President should be like President Reagan. The Filipino Chief Executive can maintain regular office hours, just like what President Reagan did. He maintained a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. office routine although he often took breakfast at 7:00 a.m. with a few close aides and cabinet members, so that they could discuss the agenda for the day. I said that President Reagan allowed his cabinet secretaries to assume more duties and his decentralization policy permitted him to do away with macro-managing the American government and the economy.

The Reagan Presidency as Model for the Philippines

President Reagan avoided the limelight. When the American hostages in Iran were released, Mr. Reagan did not meet them at the airport. He requested former President Jimmy Carter to welcome the hostages. After all, it was during President Carter’s watch when Iranian revolutionary forces imprisoned them. I said that this was in contrast with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who flew to Zamboanga City just to receive the surrender of a convicted murderer who escaped from prison. Mr. Reagan knew the prestige of the Office of the President and acted correspondingly to enhance and not trivialize it. Mr. Reagan, a former Hollywood star, never danced the “Lambada” with other Hollywood stars who visited with him at The White House.

There was also an excellent policy that President Reagan continued. Like many of his predecessors, Mr. Reagan instructed the Office of the President to answer letters from the common folks. Sometimes, he would write in his own hand the replies, especially to the people that he knew. One such recipient of Mr. Reagan’s policy of acknowledging letters from citizens and replying to them was a Filipino American. Rudy “Sonny” Sampayan of New York, whose ancestry is from Binalonan, Pangasinan, told me of receiving a reply from the Office of Mr. Reagan after he wrote to him about his “Stars Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The Office of the President sent him not only a letter with a machine-imprinted signature of Mr. Reagan but also a 10” X 12” photograph of the American President.

Now let us compare Mr. Reagan’s and the other American Presidents’ routine of replying to ordinary citizens’ letters with the Filipino presidential practice. As I wrote in my essays, four Philippine Presidents never bothered to even send a courtesy of an acknowledgment of receipt of the letters that I sent to them from 1986 up to the present.

Perhaps the Filipino President can start making the people look good and feel good by simply answering their letters, especially correspondence that contains their concerns about the country and her citizens. Just like what President Reagan did in his lifetime.

Then, as now, conservatives and historians hailed President Reagan’s tax cuts, his stirring defense of traditional values and his commitment to getting the government "off the backs" of the people.

Perhaps Filipino Presidents should follow in the footsteps of President Reagan and target the making of the Philippines also as a “shining city on the hill” of regional and world affairs.

Yes, now more than ever the Philippines needs a Ronald Reagan-like leader who can inspire the people, make them laugh at their own trials and tribulations and motivate them to look good and feel better than they were in the past.

Now, can we fault the Filipino-American Democrats who want to name their PAC after Mr. Reagan?

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Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2007 03:19

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