Jumping on the Bandwagon
I have to admit that there were times when I found the media's covereage of the Reagan state funeral a little difficult to tolerate. But it wasn't because it was all too typically liberal, cynical, and bombastic. Au contraire. Time magazine called Ronald Reagan an "All-American." Dan Rather led the CBS News by saying, "Ronald Reagan, the Cold War crusader whose sunny optimism made a nation believe it was morning in America, dies at 93." The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Reagan's relentless optimism projected the sun." The Los Angeles Times said Reagan's "optimism was catching." Even John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy had nice things to say. Steady Teddy praised Reagan's "extraordinary ability to inspire the nation to live up to its high ideals." Meanwhile, Scary Kerry said, "He was our oldest president, but he made America young again."
Pardon me? Are you kidding? No really. Aren't these the same folks who vilified Reagan all throughout his career and are even now vilifying his heirs and all those who would dare uphold his legacy? Aren't these the same talking heads who have been falling all over themselves to praise Michael Moore's latest X-Files-style mockumentary? What am I missing here?
I don't know about you, but I find all this bandwagon eulogizing to be more than a little disingenuous and patronizing. At least the Boston Globe had the courage to stick by their convictions by bashing Reagan and all he stood for--so, maybe there really are a few real ideological liberals left out there who refuse to be confused by the facts and still faithfully cling to Marx's grand-glorious vision. I've got to believe the rest are just opportunistic poseurs.
Ushered into the presidency by a roiling discontent with the course of modern liberalism, Ronald Reagan initiated a remarkable new era of conservatism in American political life. His first inauguration was a celebration of the original intentions of the Founders: small, limited, and accountable civil prerogatives. Although his administration’s domestic successes were actually rather limited at first--particularly in reigning in the size and cost of government--the moral resolve manifested in his inaugural speech ultimately resulted in the transformation of American politics and one of the greatest foreign policy victories in our nation’s storied history: the collapse of Communism’s “Evil Empire.” In all respects, there can be little doubt that this manifesto of optimism ultimately set the stage for the political debate through the end of the century. Ronald Reagan’s “revolution” changed the world and changed America. Indeed, as many commentators have already noted, the upcoming election is in many ways a referendum on Reagan’s vision--George W. Bush is his chief heir and proponent; John Kerry is his vision’s chief antagonist and opponent. If people recognize that when they head to the polls in November, Bush will win by a substantial margin--as the outpouring of sadness, honor, and remembrance this past week has indicated.
Regardless, here is the speech that really launched it all--his Morning in America first inaugural:
These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present.
To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political and economic upheavals. You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why then should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding—we’re going to begin to act beginning today.
The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.
From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of government himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?
All of us together-in and out of government-must beat the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. We hear much of special interest groups. Well our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries, or ethnic and racial divisions and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes and heal us when we’re sick. Professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies and truck drivers. They are, in short, “We the people.” This breed called Americans.
Well, this Administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning “ and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy.
With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong, prosperous America at peace with itself and the world. So as we begin, let us take inventory.
We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the earth.
Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the states or to the people.
All of us--all of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the states; the states created the Federal Government. Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work--work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.
If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.
Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.
It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.
It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline; I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.
So, with all the creative energy at our command let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes and the goals of this Administration, so help me God.
We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen? And loving them reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?
Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic yes. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.
In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow—measured in inches and feet, not miles—but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means and to lighten our punitive tax burden.
And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise. I believe we the Americans of today are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to insure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.
And as we renew ourselves here in our own land we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.
To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.
As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, we will not surrender for it—now or ever.
Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. Above all we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.
God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America.
Favorite Reagan Quotes
Reagan was never at a loss for words. He was indeed, the Great Communicator. His jokes were nearly always apt, his analysis was nearly always clear-headed, and his policies were nearly always principled. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
“Mr. Gorbachev, if you genuinely seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate ... open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
“Government is not the solution, it's the problem.”
“Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
“A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.”
“When you see all that rhetorical smoke billowing up from the Democrats, well, ladies and gentlemen, I'd follow the example of their nominee: don't inhale.”
“I’ve noticed that everybody who is for abortion has already been born.”
“How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
“I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.”
“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.”
“Margaret Thatcher is the best man in England.”