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Ronald Reagan – Anniversary Reflections

Posted on Friday, June 3, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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11 Comments
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Ronald Reagan’s “spirit” is worth recalling, rejoicing in. His spirit embodied hope, based on truth and experience. He died 18 years ago this week, but his life, leadership, and love of America changed the world – and remained undying. They are a reservoir of hope that changed us all.

It seems like yesterday; I was a young man working in Reagan’s White House, enthralled. Later came a visit with him in California. Then, in 2004, working for his former National Security Advisor and then-Secretary Powell, Reagan’s caisson, rider-less horse, passed state in silence.

At 21, fate deposited me in Reagan’s White House, wide-eyed, filled with wonder. No national leader could have poured more content into my wide eyes and wishful soul. Not once did Reagan appear, in three years, less than earnest, sincere, kind, and perennially thoughtful.

He was straightforward, funny, almost whimsical at times, yet clear in his convictions, one of which was never to take offense from someone else’s bad day. He passed that attribute to Powell, but in his White House years – with all their own stress – Reagan lived the idea.

Unlike many modern leaders, Reagan saw himself not as the center of the universe, but as a steward of the Republic, just the man who – for a time – was entrusted by good Americans to “do the right thing”. 

And right thing he did. Believing in America’s genius, he cut federal income taxes dramatically. He was convinced that more freedom to earn meant higher employment, productivity, wages, and individual wealth, which they did. 

This, he believed, would raise returns to the government beyond anything possible from higher taxes, which tend to reduce incentives to earn, retarding consumption, private investment, employment, productivity, wages, and wealth. 

Right again. In his first three years, he cut taxes 25 percent. In eight years, he created 18 million jobs. Recession ended, America’s standard of living rose, prosperity proliferated.

On the international front, he dismayed critics on the left by refusing to call the Soviet Union legitimate.  Doggedly, with conviction, humor, and seriousness, he challenged everything about Communist domination of Russia and Eastern Europe. He did not let up.

On policy, he advanced freedom. He recommissioned America’s big battleships, spurred military modernization, initiated ballistic missile defenses, and directly confronted – with the US Navy – Iran and rogue states. He believed in “peace through strength,” not a slogan, a strategy.

He convincingly validated anti-Soviet dissidents and freedom movements, from Poland’s Solidarity to individual dissidents. He met 96 dissidents inside the Soviet Union in 1988.

History records Reagan’s untiring good humor and patience in writing to, meeting with, confronting and eventually converting Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, nothing short of miraculous. Without war, after 70 years of Communism, 40 of Cold War, Reagan and Gorbachev brought an end to that “evil empire.”

But the magic of Reagan was not conservative polices, not really. It was the man, his kindness, good heart, ability to see what others did not – to trust the possible. He saw an opportunity for conversion through education, forgiveness, trust not judgment, thought souls redeemable. 

His good heart and lifetime conviction that freedom mattered were paired with leadership qualities – honesty, expectation, clarity, accountability, resilience, not taking things personally.

These attributes he found in or passed to Powell, but more he passed them to all of us, the notion that, if you can envision a moral outcome, no matter how difficult, unlikely, or arduous, you can – with faith – make it happen. Too often we forget that, and yet he proved it repeatedly.

As we await a declaration by the Supreme Court, almost 50 years in the making, that the Constitution does not contain a right to abortion, we feel the wave of Reagan’s influence – and faith in the American people, process, institutions, and goodness.

His little 1983 book, “Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation,” was not offensive or judgmental, even 40 years ago.  It was a plea, request, appeal to the conscience of every American to think hard about stakes, acknowledge only God knows when life begins – not us – and so, decide to err on the side of caution, since being wrong carries grave consequences.

More broadly, Reagan trusted the conscience of our nation and each of us on every issue. He believed we were and would be a good, other-regarding, sacrificing people – determined to preserve our freedom. He lived a life that celebrated this. He was that WWII generation.

If you ever tire of modern politics, and we all do, look up Reagan’s comedy lines, speeches, examples – hundreds – of good humor, good will, earnest love of our country. You will sleep better, as he surely did.  Having seen him up close, my memory passed on is – he was real.

Eighteen years ago this week, after watching Reagan’s caisson pass the State Department, eyes on, everyone silent, circumstances placed me in an elevator with the Secretary. The topic of Reagan surfaced, and my thought was that some policy or story would emerge. But no… 

Almost as whimsically as Reagan himself might have, Powell said simply, “It was Reagan’s spirt that moved things … just his spirit.”

That same spirit – irrepressibly positive, cheerful in adversity, aware of risk and reality, never beyond envisioning the possible or impossible and working for it – is buried in all of us. It is America. None of that has changed, as it is timeless. The key is remembering, and drawing from that deep well of wisdom, for the future we want. Reagan did that, and his inspiration lives.

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Chris
Chris
2 years ago

He is sorely missed but I will take the cue and hope for one like him in our near future — we sure need it.

Chuck
Chuck
2 years ago

Let us follow in President Regan’s footsteps!

In Liberty and in His Name

PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

Just as this country’s lights were figuratively switched off 18 months ago by Joe Biden and the Democrat Party, all those lights can be switched back on again by the American people. All that is lacking is the will of the American people to stand up to the ruinous policies currently being inflicted on this nation by the Democrat Party.

Reagan fought for his vision of a better America against the status quo, that insisted in Washington that the usual bad solutions (tax hikes, more regulations, more price controls, etc.) were the only option that should be pursued. He wouldn’t back down and ultimately he prevailed to show the establishment that there was indeed a better way. They of course hated him for it and did everything they could to fight him all along the way. Only the American people supported Reagan and fortunately that was enough to hold the Washington establishment mostly at bay.

DBM
DBM
2 years ago

Let’s all join in remembering the greatest president of the 20th century!!

Steven Coughlin
Steven Coughlin
2 years ago

The year 1980 was the first time I was eligible to vote . My fellow service members (U.S.Army) and I couldn’t wait to vote for Ronald Reagan. I will always remember the excitement of election night when it was announced he had defeated Jimmy Carter. I remember Raegan as a great American who loved his country, was wise , and had an amazing sense of humor and positive outlook on life. Who can forget his famous second debate line when he even made Walter “Mondull” laugh? Ronnie is certainly missed today.

Jim
Jim
2 years ago

The Spirit of God was on his heart, that is why President Reagan was the kind of man that he was, to America. I encourage you to listen on You Tube some of the speeches he gave to the National Prayer breakfast meetings. It will inspire you and fill you with a sense of awe on how lucky we were to have him be our president. Nancy loved him dearly, and so did America.

Rich C
Rich C
2 years ago

After Jimmy Carters fiasco presidency Ronald Reagan was a breath of fresh air. It was good to see America come back strong and not take any crap from anybody. One of Reagan’s greatest quotes was: “If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question”. How we miss REAL leadership.

Gwyn Makara
Gwyn Makara
2 years ago

What a special memory from my past. He was part of my teachers who truly showed what was intended to be the founders’ idea of the us being the light in the hill for all the world to see. We are blessed again to have such a President again in President Trump. Hope many read this awesome statement of how unique this Country truly Is.

REB1957
REB1957
2 years ago

I had a political conversation with a Lyft driver once. I knew, without any shadow of doubt, that he was a die-hard member of the Democrat Socialist Communist Party. Before he got me to my destination, I asked him a very important question. “If we could find another Ronald Reagan, would he vote for him.” He responded, without hesitation, “Yes.”

Smike
Smike
2 years ago

Sometimes things work out. Today is a very different time from Regans day. Regan was predictable and he rarely took on the controversial issues. He didn’t have any crushing issues that challenged him. Regan was the right man for the time, and he did fairly well. I’m sure someone has run a computerize political analysis based on what we know about Regan against today’s circumstances. I don’t think Trump and Regan would have been friends. I think it would make a great TV series.

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