Mitch Berg has a great post on the legacy of Ronald Reagan 95 years after his birth:
Reagan didn’t bring down the USSR – but he catalyzed the events and inspired the people that did. He didn’t bring back the economy singlehandedly – but he extinguished the malaise of the mind and the crushing impediments of the tax code that had held it at bay. He didn’t relaunch democracy around the world – but he left a nation in his wake that believed it could be done.
He was a “dumb guy” – said his critics – who was smarter than his critics.
I’m a speech geek, of course. And Reagan was the last great American political orator. His “A Time For Choosing, the Challenger disaster speech, his speech at Pointe Du Hoc, and of course the Brandenberg Gate speech are just the highest points of a career full of the greatest speeches in American history.
Reagan was probably the second-best orator of the 20th Century (closely behind Winston Churchill). Decried as an intellectual lightweight, he was a voracious reader with an impressive command of public policy. The left believed that he would start World War III, and yet shortly after his tenure in office the crumbling edifice of Soviet Communism finally collapsed – thanks in large part to his willingness to face the Soviets head-on.
Conservatives owe a great debt to Reagan. He was the first person in American politics to truly and successfully advocate and win on conservative principles. Were it not for Reagan’s vision and leadership, America would have travelled much further down the road to serfdom, and we would have all suffered for it. Instead, Reagan challenged the basic assumptions of state power and brought in a badly needed breath of fresh air into the stale doctrine of expanding government power.
Reagan’s legacy of peace through strength, limited government, and strong moral values have become the core principles of the Republican Party – although we don’t always live up them as we should. Reagan’s incredible contribution to this country left it a much better place, and the world he left was a significantly safer one. We should continue his legacy in fighting for a strong national defense, less intrusive government, and a commitment to the values that make our society strong. The legacy of Reagan is a legacy worth continuing, and the his values should be our values.