American Conservative politicians are at a rhetorical disadvantage running for national office, not only because the national media are largely liberal. Our cultural vocabulary is infused with liberal assumptions. For this reason, many of us who largely agree with social and economic conservatism cringe when we listen to conservative politicians either struggling to convey a conservative answer without giving offense (as in the case of Mitt Romney) or without bothering with a winsome delivery (as in the case of Rick Santorum).
Americans love a happy warrior, which is why they loved Ronald Reagan. He knew what he believed and why he believed it, and he was willing to offer reasons for his beliefs. But he also knew how to deliver his message with humor, wit, and self-deprecation. He was a serious man who did not take himself all that seriously. And thus, unlike today’s candidates (including the current occupant of the White House), he rarely used the first person singular. This is because Reagan loved America more than he loved himself. And it showed.