House minority leader talks about Reagan and today’s Republicans
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came to Santa Barbara Thursday to reflect on the life of President Ronald Reagan and discuss today’s Republican Party.
Rep. McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, spoke at the Reagan Ranch Center on State Street, where he noted his first voting experience came when President Reagan was running for his second term in office.
The representative told the audience that it was Mr. Reagan’s policies and principles that led him to join the Republican Party as a young man. To this day, he even has a portrait of the late president hanging in his congressional office.
“If you ever were in my office, you’ll see a Reagan portrait,” Mr. McCarthy told the audience. “The Reagan portrait is in color, and he’s smiling.
“You know why I chose that picture? Because what Reagan would tell us is if you believe in your principles, and if you believe your principles bring people more freedom and liberty, then there’s no reason to be angry. And many times in our party, we think we have to be angry to prove we’re conservative. Reagan proved the opposite.”
He later added, “If Reagan was here, and he wanted to give us advice, he’d tell us peace without freedom is meaningless. Think about for one moment: Peace without freedom is meaningless. And you can apply that to any topic or subject you have — the peace and freedom to enjoy your land, the peace to not have the government tell you what to do, the peace where we’re not being controlled or pushed by another nation. What you have to understand is peace without freedom — it’s human nature that we all crave peace, but you cannot obtain it without having freedom.”
During his address, Rep. McCarthy reflected on the past year, mentioning the challenges of the pandemic, former President Donald Trump’s loss of the election and the loss of the Republican majority in both houses of Congress.
“From legislators, you may sit back and you may think the last election was a bad election,” Rep. McCarthy said. “The president didn’t turn out the way we wanted — I think if he didn’t have the pandemic, he would have won very big.
“The Senate, we thought for sure they would win. I think by losing Georgia, personally I think it’s malpractice. If you’re a Republican (and) you run in Georgia, you start with a 4% advantage. You run in California, you’re down 10 points to start out with.”
Despite these losses, Rep. McCarthy said no Republican incumbents in Congress were defeated in 2020, marking the first time this has happened since 1994. Even in 2010 when the Republicans won the House majority, there were incumbents who still lost, Rep. McCarthy added.
Rep. McCarthy was the keynote speaker for Thursday’s event, which featured two Western Caucus panels on “Water, Disaster Relief and Fire Prevention” and the “Need for Strategic & Critical Mineral Development in America.”
While the representative’s comments on these topics
were brief in his address, he told the audience that Republican Party members in California should remain strong on land protection policy despite holding the minority in Congress. As Californians, Rep. McCarthy said, the representatives and their constituents are the “keepers of the land.”
“We’re going to talk about the (environmental) challenges that we have because people don’t understand unless they’re from the West,” Rep. McCarthy said. “I don’t care if you’re the party and you’re on the East Coast, you concreted over all your property, and then you want to tell us how to manage ours. We’re the ones who are the keepers of the land.
“This is why you have the animals out here, this is why you have the beauty that we have… But denying (our enjoyment) is going to destroy our land from the fires and others. And this is why we have to unite to be stronger.”
He continued, “I don’t know if you remember back in the day, when Ronald Reagan created the whole campaign, the ‘War on the West’, you remember that? This is what we have to recreate, because that’s exactly what continues to go on. We have to unite people around it.”