Today marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of the greatest American president of the second half on the twentieth century, the greatest of the entire century if we consider just domestic policy. Born in Tampico, Illinois, Ronald Wilson never lost faith in the American nation — or the American people.
Or, as the Gipper himself might put it, he always have faith in the American nation and the American people. He kept his optimism even when times were tough. When, before his economic policies kicked in and his poll numbers took a nosedive, he kept his good humor, quipping to his pollster Richard Wirthlin that he might have to get himself shot again.
He held the line against growth in domestic spending even as he faced a big-government loving Democratic majority House of Representatives for his entire eight years in the White House. By building up the military and standing up to the Soviets, calling theirs an “evil Empire,” he brought it down, winning the Cold War without a shot being fired.
He worked closely with our allies, particularly the Brits, forging a strong partnership with his good friend, the Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He championed freedom and considered himself the luckiest man alive, not because he got to preside over this great nation and helped restore its stature, but because he had won the love of the former Nancy Davis and got to spend the better part of his life with her.
He knew that while he may have been born good, she made him great.
And that’s one reason he was great; Ronald Reagan was grateful for what he had. And we are grateful for his inspiration and his leadership. And for his lady who gave him comfort on the journey and the strength to stand tall for the ideals and ideas which make this nation what it is.
It seems my friend Rick Sincere was the first in the blogosphere to wish Americans a Happy Reagan Day on this, the ninety-eighth anniversary of the birth of the greatest American president of the second half of the twentieth century, the chief executive with the most successful economic policy of that entire century.
As we celebrate Reagan’s birthday during the Administration of the first of his successors trying to repudiate his ideas, it’s important that we remember what those ideas were. He provided a nice summary in his 1964 speech on behalf of then-GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. Those ideas would not just explain his support for that principled Arizonan, but also come to define his own basic political philosophy for his subsequent political career.
So, today, as we remember the Gipper on the anniversary of his birth, let us not just recall Ronald Reagan the man. Not just the successful president and charismatic leader. Let us also remember Ronald Reagan, man of ideas.
As we recall his ideas — and affirm them ourselves — we will be better equipped to debate the issues of the day. When others call our party’s attempt to block a spendthrift “stimulus” as obstructionist or rejectionist, tell them that in opposing this boondoggle, we are not merely rejecting a proposal which, we believe, will be harmful over the long term, we are affirming the vision of Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Let us always remember the Gipper’s guiding idea: freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
And the less government intrudes on our freedom, the better off we are. And the stronger our economy is. And will be.