The Great Communicator: Honoring President Ronald Reagan

In July of 1980, I left from Union Station on a train for Detroit to serve as a Reagan Youth Delegate at the Republican National Convention. The experience was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was on the convention floor in Joe Louis Arena that sweltering summer evening when the convention delegates selected former California Governor Ronald Reagan to be our party's nominee for President of the United States.

Reagan's momentous acceptance speech told America that we could be better.

A specific line in that speech has stuck with me throughout my life. He declared, “More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values.”

I've tried to embody this throughout my career in public service and especially in my first few months serving as your Assemblyman. I believe what brings us together is far greater than what tears us apart.

Reagan's history of reaching across the aisle to foster positive compromise is something all legislators in both Washington, D.C. and Sacramento should model.  Many times he successfully worked with the Democratic Party forging positive compromises that led to reforms in areas like tax policy, Social Security and immigration. California faces some serious challenges today and it's time both parties channel our inner Reagan and work in a bipartisan manner to improve our state.

President Reagan did more than show us how bipartisanship should work. He exemplified leadership by promoting peace through strength. Inspired by his faith, he was able to stand alone convinced that he was on the right course when he refused to give away the United States' commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) even as Soviet leader Gorbachev and the rest of the world demanded it.

In 1992, I ran Maureen Reagan's campaign for Congress and I witnessed up close Ronald Reagan as a father. It was refreshing to learn that the private Reagan was the same as his public persona. He spoke with Maureen nearly every day and he was kind, engaged and very encouraging. From my time with him there was no doubt he was the 'real deal.' He was someone who actually 'walked the walk'

I recently authored a resolution which pays tribute to President Reagan by declaring today, his 102nd birthday, as Ronald Reagan day. The resolution passed on Monday February 4th and I was joined by seventy-three colleagues as co-authors. Many of my fellow legislators Republican and Democrat alike, shared their own reasons on how President Reagan influenced them.

In 1967, Reagan described California by saying, “California, with its climate, its resources, and its wealth of young, aggressive, talented people, must never take second place. We can provide jobs for all our people who will work and we can have honest government at a price we can afford.”

I believe his words remain true today; California has the smartest and hardest working people in the world and we can do better. Let's honor President Reagan's legacy by working together for California.