Authored and submitted by Rees Lloyd
Ronald Reagan, inspiring the American people with the message that “we have a rendezvous with destiny,” was elected President of the United States on November 4, 1980. It is well to remember Reagan on the 30th anniversary of his historic election, as it was truly a milestone of liberty.
Exuding patriotism, belief in American exceptionalism, and optimism for America’s future, Reagan, the “Great Communicator,” as he became known, changed the spirit of the nation, the country, and the world.
Following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers, and championing the values enshrined by them in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Reagan called on Americans to revive the country by living the conservative principles by which the Founders created and preserved American liberty: Limited government; individual freedom by protection of natural rights endowed by the Creator and guaranteed by the Constitution; free enterprise with both personal and governmental fiscal and moral responsibility; and a strong national defense securing national and individual freedom.
In doing so, Reagan was vilified before his election and during his entire presidency by elitist liberal “progressives” of the Democrat Party, democratic socialists, communists and other totalitarians of every stripe, the liberal American media and academia. He was attacked, denounced, and ridiculed as a “dangerous rightwing conservative,” “a war monger,” an “amiable dunce” who lacked the political sophistication and intellectual capacity necessary in a modern president — qualities which, of course, his progressive detractors possessed.
Standing athwart the “progressive” Democrats decades long “Big Government” policies, and their elitist view that they were “on the right side of history” in expanding government socialistically while retracting free enterprise individually, Reagan boldly and firmly proclaimed: “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”
Liberal “progressives” howled with outrage as they saw decades of expanding government, ruled by themselves as anointed elite, threatened by this “reactionary” conservative president who lacked the intellect to perceive their superiority.
But the American people were inspired. Reagan brought the American people real hope that America could change from the “malaise” which had come to dominate the national spirit during the tenure of the liberal Democrat president Reagan defeated, Jimmy Carter, who was himself the author of the term “malaise” as the fitting description of the American mood and spirit after his four-years in the White House.
While Reagan changed the spirit of the nation, proclaiming “it is morning in America,” so he changed the nature of the government, the country, and the world.
As to the government, in an era in which liberal Democrat policies in the administration of Jimmy Carter had led to soaring interest rates reaching 18 per cent, a national “malaise,” and a series of bumbling international relations and military embarrassments, Reagan defied the liberal progressives.
First, noting that “a rising tide raises all boats,” Reagan adopted “supply side economics,” slashed taxes on Americans, and attempted to decrease rather than increase government in order to free up Americans to be creators of wealth by their own enterprise rather than consumers of wealth by government dependency and redistribution. The progressive pundits predicted doom, branded his economics as “selfish,” mean, creating the “Me First” generation.
Reagan was right and the elitist “progressives,” who overwhelmingly do not actually produce or create wealth, but are of the chattering classes producing opinions rather than wealth, or worse, lawyers, were wrong.
As to the world, Reagan changed it profoundly by evidencing that he said what he meant and meant what he said.
For but one example, on the very day of Reagan’s inauguration, the terrorist Islamic Republic of Iran under the ayatollahs released all the American hostages which they had held during the administration of Carter, whose pleadings for the release of the American hostages on humanitarian grounds the Islamic theocracy of Iran had defied, and mocked.
Reagan also ended the “Cold War” with Soviet Communism which had begun at the end of WWII and ended only with Reagan, despite all the efforts of progressives to convince Reagan to kowtow to Communism rather than combat it.
When Reagan called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, then the other world power, an “Evil Empire,” American progressives were beside themselves, declaring Reagan to be “mad” (as in insane), a “war monger” who would so upset the Soviet Communist Great Bear that there would be a world-ending nuclear war.
Reagan did not retreat, but instead really had the progressives twisting their knickers in a knot by announcing he would pursue “Star Wars,” a U.S. nuclear missile defense system in space. Progressives attacked hysterically, denounced it as unworkable, a useless provocation, a waste of money, destructive of peace in the world, and pronounced Reagan “really mad” (as in really insane).
On top of that, when Reagan met with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Iceland for a summit which Gorbachev sought and which “progressives” hailed as setting the stage for peaceful accommodation to Soviet International Socialism, Reagan refused to retreat from “Star Wars.” Progressives were ablaze with denunciatory indignation.
In Berlin, Reagan would utter words heard round the world: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” And the wall ultimately came tumbling down.
In all of these things, Reagan was denounced by liberal progressives in government, in the media, in academia, in the leadership of the Democrat Party.
In all of these things, Reagan was right, and they were wrong: Reagan’s presidency ended in 1989, and so did the Soviet Union end in that year. The Berlin Wall collapsed. The Soviet Union Collapsed. Former Premier Gorbachev, a dedicated communist to the end, admitted that it was Reagan’s refusal to retreat from “Star Wars” that had brought down the Soviet Union, which could no longer afford to compete financially with the U.S. to build such a defense system.
These were and are great milestones in liberty. They were achieved by a man of great integrity, courage, commonsense, and simple faith in his God and his country. A man who achieved great things, but always exuded a sense of humility, not hubris; a president who did not project himself as above his fellow Americans, but one of them.
Ronald Reagan was that that rarity: A man not only great, but good.
There is a story about his later years that perhaps most fittingly and touchingly describes how he thought of himself, and how he thought of us. He had begun his life in the Midwest, where as a young man, he had quite proudly served as a lifeguard. In his last years, he suffered from an affliction affecting so many of his fellow Americans, Alzheimer’s. He did not hide it. He publicly announced it before it was far advanced, knowing that it would advance. In those last years, he like others, was lost in an Alzheimer’s daze, cared for by his loving wife Nancy. She related that Reagan no longer spoke of memories of days as president, as the most powerful man in the world. What Ronald Reagan proudly remembered, Nancy said, was that he was a lifeguard back in the Midwest, saving lives.
Ronald Reagan was that: a lifesaver, and a nation saver.
I knew that Reagan was bringing about a profound change in America long before his great deeds as president, by startling evidence close to home: The impact he had on my own father. Like many of his generation, my father was a WWII vet who left home in the Midwest as a young teen (eighth grade) in the Depression to help support his family by working in the forests of Oregon in the Civilian Conservation Corps. As soon as he turned 18, he was shipped from the CCC Camps into the Army. Not long thereafter, WWII broke out. He served for the duration, from the Declaration of War to the Declaration of Victory in 1945.
Having spent his teenage years serving in CCC Camps and the years of his young manhood in military service, he returned home to find a job, start and provide for his family. He was a steel worker and later a refinery worker, active in his union, and both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Although he was never active in politics, he was an FDR Democrat who had voted the Democrat ticket his whole life, thinking of Republicans as wealthy “fat cats” who didn’t know or care about the hardships or concerns of ordinary American people working onerous jobs. He was a tough, skilled, self-reliant, honest, humble, hardworking and proud American, who asked for nothing from government except to be left alone.
And then I found out that he, of all people, voted for Ronald Reagan. I was shocked. I knew then, by that evidence alone, that America was being profoundly changed. So was I.
Ronald Reagan is gone, and leading up to the elections held on November 2, 2010, thirty years after his own election, we were told by the progressive pundits that “Reaganism is dead,” the Republicans are wrong to try to revive “Reaganism.” The progressives are wrong, again.
The spirit that Ronald Reagan created in America, the love of freedom and the spirit of honest patriotism and belief in America and its traditional values , that willingness to serve and sacrifice for God and country, which Ronald Reagan embodied and expressed, that which is now called “Reaganism” and which changed my industrial working class father into a Reagan Democrat, is not dead.
It is in fact Reaganism, expressed by and in the hearts of Tea Party Patriots, which led to the great change in America on Nov. 2, 2010, when the nation rejected overwhelmingly the Big Government progressivism of President Barack Hussein Obama which is perceived as leading the country from the free constitutional republic the Founding Fathers created to a version of European-style democratic socialism.
Progressive pundits notwithstanding, I see the evidence that Reaganism is alive and well today in the words and deeds of the Tea Party Patriots, with whom I have had the privilege to gather without the slightest manifestation of hatred or racism or violence or other dangerousness that has been so falsely attributed to them by progressives from President Obama (who in contrast has stated that those of us who oppose his policies are “enemies”), to “progressive” Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, to uncountable “progressives” in the media, academia, the internet, cable, and blogs, etc., et al.
Ironically, it is the Tea Party Patriots who, despite all the contumely laid upon them by elitist progressives, have actually brought about that “participatory democracy” that “progressives” once proclaimed in the Civil Rights Era as one of their cherished goals, “the people” actively participating in the democratic process. Notwithstanding, Tea Party Patriots participating in the democratic process are hypocritically vilified by the same “progressives” today.
It is the Tea Party Patriots, still inspired by Ronald Reagan, who have risen up with common sense and simple faith, in God and their country, to participate in our democratic process, in order to restrain a progressively expanding government and to reclaim the free constitutional republic the Founders created and bequeathed us, and who are doing so peacefully, by walking in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers…and Ronald Reagan, the Lifesaver, whose election on November 4, 1980, was the true historic election of the modern era, a true milestone of liberty.
REES LLOYD is a longtime civil rights attorney and veterans activist whose work has been honored by, among others, the California Senate and Assembly, and numerous civil rights, workers rights, and veterans rights organizations. He has testified as a constitutional expert at hearings before the U.S. House and Senate representing The American Legion.
He has been profiled, and his work featured, by such varied print media as the Los Angeles Times and American Legion Magazine, and such broadcast media as ABC’s Nightline and 20/20, Fox News In The Morning, and, among others, by Hannity. His writings have appeared in a variety of national, regional, and local newspaper, magazine, and other publications. He is a frequent radio commentator, and a sought after speaker.