Every American should live through at least one great presidency — a presidency that achieves both great triumph and great transformation. But such presidencies are rare enough that not every American does. Reagan’s is the great presidency that I lived through. If I were more like Reagan, I’d believe that I will live through another, but I’m not, so I don’t.
It’s difficult for those who weren’t politically conscious by 1980 to understand how different it felt to be an American that year compared to eight years later. That profound difference was experienced not just by Reagan’s admirers, but also by those like me who, during his tenure, viewed him more ambiguously. We could try to debate how much credit Reagan deserved, but the triumph and transformation of those years was indisputable. In fact, it didn’t take eight years to feel the difference. During the 1984 election, when Walter Mondale appeared to be making a little progress, Reagan simply asked Americans whether they were better off now than they had been four years earlier. The question answered itself, and Reagan’s lead returned to double-digits.
Here, courtesy of Suburban Sundries Shack is Reagan at his best in his 1989 Farewell Speech:
“I won a nickname, “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation – from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.”
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
“Proclaim Liberty throughout All the land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.” Inscription on the Liberty Bell