Jay Reding.com

Happy Reagan Day!

Mitch Berg has his annual tribute to Ronald Reagan on what would have been his 97th birthday.

He also points to one of the best pieces of political oratory in the 20th Century, and a moment that changed the world:

There are only a couple pieces of oratory that truly get to me. This is one of them. I can’t hear Reagan say “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” without a wave of pride. We hear about the “audacity of hope”—but would any contemporary politician do something so audacious as to buck the entire foreign policy establishment and challenge a superpower with such boldness? Would any politician today have the courage to do what Reagan did? The optimism to believe that freedom would prevail despite all the analysts’ view that the Iron Curtain would be around for decades to come? That one phrase destroyed an empire.

While every Republican candidate keeps invoking the mantle of Reagan, the legend of Reagan shouldn’t overshadow the man himself. The legacy of Ronald Reagan was about more than a laundry list of issues and positions—if it were, Reagan would have been another technocrat with a moderately successful administration. Instead, Reagan was a transformational President not because of his position on the issues—although those are important—but because he stood up for American values in a time when it was not politically expedient to do so. We went from “Whip Inflation Now” and “malaise” to “morning in America” because Reagan recaptured an essential vision of this country.

Reagan’s vision is what should live on. He stood for a strong national defense, opposition to the expansion of government and American values. We as conservatives may quibble over the issues, but we agree on those key principles. Reagan the man would probably not have lived up to Reagan the legend—he compromised just like any politician and made some key mistakes in his term. What we can learn from Reagan is that the key to success is to believe in this country. Not just the party, not just an ideology, but to believe in the limitless potential of all the American people.

While we constantly hear the name of Reagan invoked, it would be nice if we’d hear more of his vision in our party and in our nation.

2 responses to “Happy Reagan Day!”

  1. Mark says:

    ““Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”….That one phrase destroyed an empire.”

    Gimme a break! So if Reagan hadn’t told Gorbacheav to tear down the wall, nearly half of the world would still be living in a Communist regime today?

    History will indeed look favorably upon Reagan for aggressively standing up to the Soviet empire in its twilight, but it’s a fool’s errand to suggest that said empire wasn’t in its final throes when Reagan was elected. Reagan got the three-point shot at the buzzer and got showered with confetti as the MVP of a 40-year Cold War at its natural end point. His bellicosity almost definitely hastened the Cold War’s finale (but not even a fraction as much as Gorbacheav hastened its finale), but there was no way the crumbling Soviet empire was gonna last much beyond the turn of the millennium.

  2. adb67 says:

    sorry on this one mark, your wrong. if you have ever read first hand accounts on what really went on or seen accounts of it on History Channel and other outlets you would have heard how the Soviets simply crumbled under the economic, military and political pressure placed upon it by the Reagan administration.