Ronald Reagan's Legacy

Monday, June 07, 2004

 - - Javier Sanchez

In 1970, the National Governor's Association voted 49 to 1 against endorsing welfare reform. The 1 vote, and proponent of the resolution, was Ronald Reagan. Ten years later, Reagan (aged 69) was dismissed as too old and too conservative to ever be President, leading Democrats to celebrate when he won the Republican nomination. When Ronald Reagan was elected, inflation, interest rates were in double digits.

Marginal tax rates were as high as 70%. Americans had to wait in early morning gas lines to have enough fuel to go to work. The Soviet Union was on the march all over the world, fomenting communist revolutions in Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and invading Afganistan. And America's military lacked enough planes, helicopters, and ships to defend our nation. Many Europeans and liberal elites in the U.S. dismissed Reagan as a b-rate movie actor and warmonger, a dangerous demagogue who spoke of good and evil, while they argued that the world was too complicated for such a simpleminded approach.

Ronald Reagan changed the world. The Soviet Union's march was reversed and the Berlin Wall came down a few short years after Reagan left office. Inflation, unemployment, high interest rates and gas lines disappeared after Reagan insisted on lower taxes, less regulation, and sound monetary policy. America's military regained the confidence of the American people and support it deserved. And a Democrat President named Bill Clinton finally agreed to sign welfare reform into law.

We stand on Ronald Reagan's shoulders. Just like President Reagan, President George W. Bush speaks with moral clarity about America and freedom's enemies. Both recognize that peace comes from strength. Both know that if a nation ever chooses peace over honor, it will end up with neither. Both had confidence in the American people to create prosperity and make decisions, not government elites in Washington DC. Both are optimists, who believe that the best days are tomorrow if we make the right decisions today.

Most of all, we stand on Ronald Reagan's shoulders because we work for a leader, like Reagan, who stands for fixed principles and works every day to accomplish these goals. Ronald Reagan's incredible achievements-- and President Bush's-- 2 largest tax cuts in history, historic education reform, prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients, and-- most importantly--- a strategic doctrine to defend America in a world of terrorists premised in moral clarity- result from the fact that both of these good men stand their ground when the stakes are great.

Like President Reagan's setbacks--- rejection of his welfare reform proposal, loss of the 1976 Republican nomination, long odds in 1980, difficult challenges at home and abroad, the scorn of the "smart people" who populate K Street and hang out in Georgetown-- we will face incredible challenges and probably setbacks. As we do, its worth remembering, and emulating, one of the most important legacies of our 40th President: perseverance. With every setback, every challenge, every roadback, think WWRD (What Would Reagan Do). The answer: he'd keep working, fighting, trying and pushing until he persevered. We must do no less.

As a way of commemorating President Reagan's amazing life, your website has been updated. Please visit and see some of President Reagan's best speeches.

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