Peggy Noonan's March 23 column takes TIME Magazine to task for its already infamous recent cover, which depicted a digitally altered Ronald Reagan crying over the current state of the Republican Party: "Could I be correct that they only front-page weeping Republicans, and only laud conservatives when they're dead?" (read the whole Noonan column here).

She is right, of course. The cover struck me as thoughtlessly indelicate, at best, if not cruelly disrespectful. Notwithstanding, I agree with Noonan that Karen Tumulty's article is actually a "good piece" in that it poses a relevant question: What has happened to the party of Ronald Reagan? The query legitimately arises from the current Republican confusion.

In a nutshell: What now?

Authenticity, integrity and a healthy respect for the traditions that always right our collective course in tumultuous times.

I became a Reagan Republican in 1976 (in fifth grade) because Reagan projected authenticity and integrity. I believed that the United States of America was at a perilous crossroads, and I believed that Ronald Reagan offered an inspired new direction to reconnect with timeless truths. He did not disappoint.

I concur with Noonan's brief sketch of Reagan's "obvious" impact:

"Reagan was great, a one-man hinge of history. He led and encouraged a national effort to rethink the relations of the individual and the federal establishment, to rethink what was owed to and legitimately expected of the state. He increased our security by increasing our strength and removing from the historical stage an evil ideology that had become an evil empire."

I am still a Reagan Republican. The GOP tradition is one of honest conservatism, patriotism and moral leadership.

However, like many, I am convinced that government is still too big--and going in the wrong direction under our stewardship. To put my fears in even starker terms, I am convinced that we are on a path to economic, cultural and political disaster. But I believe that there is hope. We can save ourselves.

We are in need of renewal. With or without a Reagan-like figure to lead us, we must rally to the cause of American freedom.

What now for frustrated Reaganites?

Noonan again:

"Reagan wasn't magic. He was serious, farsighted and brave about the great issues of his time. Republican candidates could try that. If they did, it would have a secondary benefit. They'd start respecting themselves instead of merely being full of themselves. This would help them stop being [demoralized by the memory of Reagan's leadership and accomplishments]."

The answer: "Be the change you seek."

Looking even deeper into our past for inspiration:

We are in need of another revolution. Reagan led one--but that was not the first revolution in American history. Consider the following descriptions of an eighteenth-century American hero, Paul Revere, written by one of my favorite American historians, David Hackett Fisher:

"[M]uch more than merely a midnight messenger, [Paul Revere] was also an organizer of collective effort in the American Revolution; he had an uncanny genius for being at the center of events. His actions made a difference, most of all in mobilizing the acts of others. [He was no] solitary rider. His genius was to promote collective action in the cause of freedom--a paradox that lies closer to the heart of the American experience than the legendary historical loners we love to celebrate."

Fischer expertly illustrated Revere as the quintessential American conservative revolutionary: a timeless template for not merely change--but renewal.

Paul Revere labored under the fundamental assumption that every viable citizen "had two callings--a special calling to work in one's vocation, and a general calling to do Christ's work in the world."

We are called to improve our world. We are called to be good stewards of our freedom and resources.

Who will lead us? Before there was George Washington, there was Paul Revere. Before there was Ronald Reagan, there was a movement that believed in something.

What is at the bedrock of the next Revolution? Most likely, the same elements that provided the foundation of the first one: (Fischer again) "[Paul Revere] believed in ordered freedom, which gave heavy weight to collective rights and individual responsibility--more so than is given by our modern calculus of individual rights and collective responsibilities."

Last Fischer quote: "[Revere] helped to start a revolution, but his purpose was to resist change and to preserve the values of the past."

We are desperately in need of a new generation of Americans dedicated to placing community over self. From whence will the next American revolution come? Who will lead?

We will. If not us, who? If not now, when?

It is time to sound the alarm. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. We are the remnant.

How? For starters:

1. Education (it starts at home); Americanism (understand that we are a peolpe united around an idea; take American intellectual history seriously).

2. Stronger communities; Stronger churches; more service; more engagement.

3. Less television and more reading; less sugar and fewer carbs; more exercise; fewer gasoline-powered cars, appliances and grids.

4. Some old virtues: morality, frugality, fidelity, selflessness, integrity, individual responsibility, etc.

Note: all quotes concerning Paul Revere come from the opening pages of David Hackett Fischer's Paul Revere's Ride, which I highly recommend.

Also: you may read Karen Tumulty's article in
TIME, "How the Right Went Wrong," here.

For further reading: you may find more Waco Farmer essays relating to my
Big-R Republicanism here.