Reagan at 100
Today is the 100th Anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birth. Over on the right hand side there is a video of Reagan’s most famous speech, the 1964 Time of Choosing. I have also put other Reagan videos into the rotation lower on the right hand side.
If you’ll allow me a personal moment of reflection, I came of age in politics during the Reagan era. My two political inspirations were Reagan and William F. Buckley. Both of them broke through the cultural wall that was keeping conservative politics ghettoized. It was not just the power of their ideas, but also a matter of style. They taught by example that conservatives could disagree with the left without being disagreeable, despite how disagreeable the left could be (and they were shockingly disagreeable). They also showed that principles did matter, even in politics.
As a student of foreign policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I loved Reagan for restoring America’s greatness on the world stage. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the United States invaded Grenada. I remember the debates over funding anti-Communist movements around the globe. I remember the debates over deploying the Pershing missiles in Europe. I even remember the debates over improving our nuclear retaliatory forces with the deployment of the MX Missile, the Trident submarine and the B-1 bomber.
Now I hear liberals try to claim that we were all united in the Cold War. Really? What’s this, “we” stuff?
Other liberals are trying to claim that Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War is overstated. I think many of them are saying it because they haven’t forgiven Reagan for winning it, yet. For those liberals, I would direct them to the leaders of the democratic movements in the former Warsaw Pact countries to ask them what they think of Reagan’s leadership before the Berlin Wall came down.
I’m proud that I came of age during the Reagan Revolution. I’m proud that I got to see Reagan in person a few times, and that I was present in 1988 at the Republican convention when he successfully handed over the White House to his successor, George H. W. Bush. I’m proud that he served as our president at a time when his country needed him most.
Consider the time when Reagan rose to national prominence. The conservative movement really did not have any national political leaders other than Reagan. The Republican Party was just a less liberal version of the Democratic Party. The last so-called conservative in the White House, Richard Nixon, embraced detente and moral equivalency in foreign policy, wage and price freezes domestically, appointed a Supreme Court Justice who wrote the odious Roe v. Wade decision, created the racial quota system, and announced he was a Keynesian.
Reagan’s challenge to President Ford in 1976 helped complete the change of the Republican Party begun by Barry Goldwater in 1964, and his victory in 1980 changed the Republican Party and the country forever.
There is a frequent debate within the Republican Party about who will be the next Reagan. There can be no “next” Reagan, because he was one of kind. As Edwin Stanton said of President Lincoln, Reagan belongs to the ages.
On March 23rd, 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave perhaps his most important Oval Office address of his administration.