One hundred years ago Ronald Wilson Reagan was born. The 40th American President is remembered for many things, but here I wish to highlight just a few key points. He was a remarkable man and I believe he was providentially placed to lead the free world at a critical hour.
Along with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, he helped to free the world from the scourge of totalitarian communism. He was a strong proponent of limited government and individual freedom. Simply recalling some of his memorable quotes is a good way to showcase this great man. Here are a few:
“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”
"Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help."
“Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.”
"If we fail to instruct our children in justice, religion, and liberty, we will be condemning them to a world without virtue, a life in the twilight of a civilization where the great truths have been forgotten.”
"Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."
"How can you tell if someone is a communist? They read Marx and Lenin. How can you tell if someone is an anti communist? They understand Marx and Lenin!"
"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right, There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream — the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."
"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."
A number of tributes have appeared to commemorate the centenary of this great man. Cal Thomas says this: “I suspect Reagan would be embarrassed by the attempts to elevate him to political sainthood. Even conservatives who now long for another Reagan were sometimes critical of him during his presidency and of those around him they believed were holding him back. ‘Let Reagan be Reagan’ they cried, as if he wasn’t who he was.
What made Reagan a great president was that he understood America and his countrymen better than any politician of his time, or perhaps any time. He saw that the greatness of the country is not found in Washington, no matter which party or personality is in power. Rather, it is to be found in the people. Reagan awakened that dormant truth from hibernation.
Jackie Gingrich Cushman said this about his foreign policy: “In 1983, in a speech to the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Fla., Reagan summarized the moral argument against the Soviet Union. ‘Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged,’ said Reagan, who added that the problem was not a military one. ‘The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.’
Reagan also defined what we were against: ‘Let us be aware that, while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.’
In his Brandenburg Gate speech, Reagan noted there is ‘one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.’ Freedom was indeed the victor on Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Just two years later, on Christmas Day 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
And let’s not forget what a strong pro-life warrior Reagan was. As Jeff White reminds us, “Ronald Regan laid a foundation for activism like no other US President. His encouragement of the Solidarity Movement, which led to the end of communist rule in Poland, was less controversial than his stand on abortion. Most acknowledge that Reagan’s policies and words paved the way for activists to tear down the Berlin Wall. Most do not know that Reagan’s policies and words also paved the way for activists to reintroduce abortion into American politics.
Prior to the Reagan years there were no crisis pregnancy centers, only a handful of homes for unwed mothers and very, very few organized anti-abortion groups. The fall of Tunisia’s dictatorial government in January inspired Egyptians to seek their own freedom. As pro-lifers watched the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 – they were inspired; if something as entrenched as communism could be defeated by peaceful activism – why not abortion.
Under this last of the Reagan years, Operation Rescue was born. Operation Rescue is the group that took the idea of holding peaceful sit-ins to block access to abortion clinics. It became America’s largest civil-disobedience movement with over 80,000 arrests in a time span of less than ten years. Yet Operation Rescue could have been aborted on Easter weekend of 1989, had it not been for actions of then retired President Reagan.
He concludes, “Reagan’s role, along with the Pope, in returning communism to the back-alleys of society is a prominent part of his legacy. When abortion clinics finally close their doors it should be in-part credited to the words and policies of President Ronald Reagan.”
He truly was a remarkable man and a great President. Such men do not come along too often. So let’s all pray that they do. We certainly need them.