Reagan: “By those who set people against people, class against class, or institution against institution.”
A Conservative Victory for Now
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The date was March 20, 1981 and Ronald Reagan who had taken the oath of office for his first term just three months earlier was addressing a joint meeting of the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, the National Review and Human events.
It was a very different era. Many of the youth in the audience were members of Generation X, born 1965 through 1980, and Reagan would be in office as Generation Y debuted in 1981 through 1995. Spanning those generations was one that would fill out the present demographic of today’s senior citizens, a critical voting bloc; one that can recall Reagan’s values and hopes to see them restored.
The Soviet Union still loomed large as a threat to freedom, exporting communism wherever it could. The other threat of Islamic fundamentalism would begin to exert itself with a suicide bombing of Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, but Reagan was undaunted. He would see the Berlin Wall fall and with it the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union.
That evening the audience was buoyant with hope that decades of liberal governance could begin to be reversed. None suspected that the electorate would embrace a little known Arkansas Governor in 1993 and that the ills of a universal healthcare plan would be raised yet again to be signed into law by 2010. More than half of all Americans want it repealed.
Reagan said, “The conservative movement in twentieth century America held fast through hard and difficult years to its vision of the truth. And history must also say that our victory, when it was achieved, was not so much a victory of politics as it was a victory of ideas, not so much a victory for any one man or party as it was a victory for a set of principles—-principles that were protected and nourished by a few unselfish Americans through many grim and heartbreaking defeats.”
Perhaps no defeat has been so heartbreaking as the public lapse of memory and judgment, the election of an avowed socialist, Barack Hussein Obama. Still, his repudiation has come quickly. Reagan is the spiritual father of the Tea Party movement because he believed in “a respect for law, an appreciation for tradition, and regard for the social consensus that gives stability to our public and private institutions.”
He added, “These civilized ideas must still motivate us even as we seek a new economic prosperity based on reducing government interference in the marketplace.”
In hindsight, we know that government interference in the marketplace, particularly the housing market, is the reason why the U.S. economy collapsed in 2008, propelling Obama into office.
Prophetically, Reagan said, “We must remove government’s smothering hand from where it does harm; we must seek to revitalize the proper functions of government, but we do these things to set loose again the energy and the ingenuity of the American people.”
The America he envisioned was a place where “a free and energetic people can work out their own destiny under God.”
Barack Obama, quoting the Declaration of Independence, cannot even bring himself to mention God. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”
For Reagan, the conservative goal was “to restore to their rightful place in our national consciousness the values of family, work, neighborhood, and religion” and he warned that it will not be achieved “by those who set people against people, class against class, or institution against institution.”
That was and is a perfect description of Barack Obama and a Democratic Party that knows no other way of governing and has no faith in the people.
Reagan never lost faith in the American people even though, for a while, they have been forgetful of the past, backsliding from the goals set by the Founding Fathers, robbed and wronged, but who are ready to rise again and restore America.
© Alan Caruba, 2010