Memo to Ronald Reagan: Election '82:
A non-presidential election is always most difficult for the sitting president, on whose performance and personality the election is judged to be a referendum. As there is no way to avoid the post-mortems, I recommend the following between now and Nov. 2.
1) Campaign a lot. You are a superb campaigner and the most effective advocate/apologist for your program. Starting today, carry your message to as many states and congressional districts as you can. Campaign for all Republican candidates, regardless of their prospects for victory, who have supported your economic program. This will send a very important political message to both Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress: Ronald Reagan sticks by those who stick by him; Ronald Reagan does not forget his friends, or his adversaries.
2) Keep the message consistent. Almost hourly, Republican Party commercials are urging all voters with access to a television set to "stay the course." That must be your message, as well, in all your public appearances, reminding people of the progress already made on checking inflation and halting the spending binge of the federal government. Please do not endorse any more Democratic jobs bills. Unemployment and, especially, legislative remedies for unemployment are issues that work for the Democrats and not for GOP candidates this fall. The more the voters' attention is upon the current economic difficulties, the better it is for the opposition; the more the voters dwell on the excesses of government and the ravages of inflation, the better for Republicans. Also, please stay on the economy and away from so-called "social" issues. You are not running for either sheriff or national chaperone.
3) Campaign among older voters. This is not heresy. Inflation has always been a favorite of debtors who enjoy paying off today's indebtedness with tomorrow's inflated dollars. Borrowers are mostly younger rather than older. Continued high interest rates and the cut in inflation have made borrowing more difficult. But it's just the opposite for older citizens and others on fixed incomes, who seek not loans but instead the price stability your administration is providing. For many of them, double-digit inflation has meant that natural anxiety has been displaced by unnatural terror. In addition, because the cost-of-living formula includes the price of home mortgages (which very few retired persons are applying for on a given Tuesday) all Social Security recipients received an increase this summer. Statistically, older voters are better off than they were under the Democrats. Take credit.
4) Break with big business. The "fairness" and Republicans-tilt-to-the-rich arguments are hurting GOP candidates. Please, no more pictures or interviews with you in a tuxedo. You should severely reprimand William Agee and his corporate playmates for squandering resources and energy on corporate takeovers that produce no jobs and do not improve productivity. You didn't fight for tax breaks for investment in order that conglomerates can chew each other up.