Yesterday, I identified a point of agreement between myself and President Obama. Truthfully, there are probably very few things on which we would see eye-to-eye. But when Obama characterizes our present situation as a “mess,” I concur. I’m also reminded of another President who had a “mess” on his hands, but he handled it capably and our country was better for having had him in the White House.
Because he believed in American exceptionalism, Reagan spent many years warning Americans about the evils of Communism. He also embraced a key Republican tenet: reducing the size of government.
Many of Reagan’s speeches still have currency today. A Time For Choosing was delivered in October of 1964, during the final week of the ’64 presidential campaign pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. This marvelous speech set a clear contrast between two vastly divergent ideologies. Johnson represented the party of large and centralized government. Reagan spoke on behalf of Goldwater because he believed Goldwater offered the best choice for restraining the insatiable beast government had become. (I shudder to think what Reagan would say today!)
There are prescient words in A Time For Choosing. How about this gem? “No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income.” What do the gurus say the tax burden is now? In May 2010, USA Today offered its headline story: Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950. But further analysis identifies some serious flaws in the reportage.
Look at your paycheck stubs and grocery receipts; consider the skittishness of the stock market and the intractable employment/unemployment numbers. Do housing starts and number of houses bought and sold provide any comfort for people now underwater with their mortgages? Anyone doubt it’s all a MESS?
The entire A Time For Choosing transcript is worthy of reading and re-reading. Today, however, the takeaway Reagan quote for me is: “Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.”
These had to be stunning words to the crowd assembled in 1964, but how much more so today? I’m not someone seeking a Messiah (I have Jesus), but I can’t help wondering whether or not a man (or woman) of Ronald Reagan’s caliber will emerge to speak common sense and provide the necessary leadership to bring us back from the brink … or have we already gone too far?