02/18/11

Ronald Reagan 100 years later

Ronald Reagan was born a year before Arizona became a State. Women could not vote, the first Chevrolets went on sale, a first-class stamp cost two cents, unemployment was 6.7%, and federal spending was $690 million.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan ran for governor and lost. In 1966, he was elected and served two terms. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976 and lost both times. In each instance, history would prove he was a man ahead of his time. He won the Presidency in 1980 and again in 1984. In his 1981 Presidential inaugural address Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

President Reagan came to Washington with a history of solving problems in government. When he took office as California’s governor, the state had a $200 million budget deficit. Seven years later when he finished his second term there was a $1 billion surplus.

While President, America’s private economy added real muscle, the military was strengthened, and the federal government bureaucracy took off layers of flab. No phony steroid-like stimulus bailouts or government takeovers. With clear vision, courage, and an ability to communicate, America under President Reagan’s steady hand created 20 million new private-sector jobs.

During the first six post-recession quarters under President Reagan, the economy added more than 4.1 million private-sector jobs. During the current Obama administration’s comparable six quarters, that number has been less than 400,000.

The Reagan expansion years signaled a period of economic progress for middle class Americans whose income increased 11 percent after adjustment for inflation.

Ronald Reagan cut tax rates for all, including the so-called “rich.” Lest people think this was something novel, the economic action in many ways replicated what John F. Kennedy did to revive a stagnant economy.

In 2004, ten years after Alzheimer’s robbed us of his mind and wisdom, Ronald Reagan passed away. At that time, I shared the following thoughts:

“The Great Communicator has been silenced. His accomplishments and words will never be forgotten. Ronald Reagan will always be a mentor and was one of my greatest heroes. It was my honor to shake the hand of the man I consider the most beloved President of the 20th Century. He returned dignity to the White House while rebuilding the economy and restoring the confidence of our nation.

His strong, resolute presence went beyond our national boundaries. It was his steadfast belief in a powerful military that made the Soviet Union blink, back down, and then collapse.

I wish we could have known Ronald Reagan’s wit and wisdom in the final years of his life. America requires leaders who communicate pride, honesty, confidence, strength and a sense of purpose. Ronald Reagan was that kind of leader. Here are some of his last words in public: ‘I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. The next time a Saddam Hussein takes over Kuwait, or North Korea brandishes a nuclear weapon, will we be ready to respond? In the end, it all comes down to leadership, and that is what this country is looking for now.’

Ronald Reagan was a brave man with bold ideas. Who can ever forget his speech near the Berlin Wall in 1987? The words still echo today: ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’

Soon, it wasn’t an army that tore down the wall, but the hands of freedom-loving Germans. They were people who believed. as Ronald Reagan did. how dangerous it is to remove oneself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.

While he was governor of California, Ronald Reagan cut the size and cost of government, erased the deficit he inherited, balanced the budget, and reformed the welfare system.
As President, he warned America’s enemies that freedom would be protected. He brought to the office confidence in the American people.”

Ronald Reagan was called “The Great Communicator.” Here is how he viewed that:

“I won a nickname, ‘The Great Communicator.’ But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.”

Ronald Wilson Reagan. In 2111, on the 200th anniversary of his birth, it is my prayer America will have kept the vision of the man I believe will be the most beloved President of the 20th Century and as it appears, perhaps the 21st Century.