And the Hope of Ronald Reagan
I served in the Air Force during the miserable administration of Jimmy Carter. I was literally miserable because we had thermostat police who ensured military personnel were too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Carter only served one term but he was a busy man who brought expertise learned as a Georgia peanut farmer to the halls of world power.
During Carter’s term as President, he created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter gave away the Panama Canal and worked on limiting our nuclear weapons. On the economic front he confronted persistent “stagflation”, a combination of high inflation, high unemployment and slow growth. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In response to the Soviet move he ended détente, escalated the Cold War, and led the international boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The first time the US failed to participate in the Olympics since the modern Olympics were founded in 1896. By 1980, The Soviet Union retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. It did not withdraw troops from Afghanistan until 1989 some eight years after Carter left office.
Carter’s popularity had eroded. Running for re-election that year, he defeated Ted Kennedy in the primary challenge for the Democratic Party nomination, but lost the general election to Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.
Captain Reagan served in the Army Air Force for three years during WWII. Poor eyesight disqualified him for overseas duty
In Reagan’s campaign, he emphasized two main themes: “to send the welfare bums back to work”, and, in reference to burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, “to clean up the mess at Berkeley.”
Reagan was elected and reelected Governor of California and chose not to seek a third term.
In 1976, Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican Nomination for President. Ford narrowly won the primary and lost the General Election to Carter.
In 1980 Reagan challenged another incumbent for President. The presidential campaign between Reagan and President Jimmy Carter was conducted during domestic concerns and the ongoing Iran hostage crisis. His campaign stressed some of his fundamental principles: lower taxes to stimulate the economy, less government interference in people’s lives, states’ rights, a strong national defense, pretty much the opposite of what we are seeing from the White House today.
Reagan launched his campaign by declaring “I believe in states’ rights.” After receiving the Republican nomination, Reagan selected one of his primary opponents, George H.W. Bush, to be his running mate. His showing in the October televised debate boosted his campaign. Reagan won the election, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes to 49 electoral votes for Carter. Reagan received 50.7% of the popular vote while Carter took 41%, and Independent John B. Anderson, a liberal Republican, received 6.7%. Republicans captured the Senate for the first time since 1952, and gained 34 House seats, but the Democrats retained a majority.
During his Presidency, Reagan pursued policies that brought changes domestically, both to the U.S. economy and the military which contributed to the end of the Cold War. Termed the Reagan Revolution, his presidency would reinvigorate American morale, reinvigorate the American economy and reduce American reliance upon government. As president, Reagan kept a series of diaries in which he commented on daily occurrences of his presidency and his views on the issues of the day. The diaries were published in May 2007 in the bestselling book, The Reagan Diaries. Reagan, at 69, was the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency and that record remains today. In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country’s economic malaise arguing: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”
In 1981, Reagan became the first president to propose a constitutional amendment on school prayer. School prayer had previously been banned by the Supreme Court in 1962, and Reagan’s election reflected an opposition to the court’s decision. Reagan’s 1981 proposed amendment stated: “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any state to participate in prayer.” In a message to Congress, Reagan said that his proposed amendment would “restore the simple freedom of our citizens to offer prayer in public schools and institutions.” In a nationally televised speech the following day, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson lauded Reagan’s speech and said the moment of silence would “ensure that children grow up to be decent and upright.” In 1984, Reagan again raised the issue, asking Congress “why can’t freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land?” In 1985, Reagan expressed his disappointment that the Supreme Court ruling still bans a moment of silence for public-school students, and said he had “an uphill battle.” In 1987 Reagan again renewed his call for Congress to support voluntary prayer in schools and end “the expulsion of God from America’s classrooms.” During his term in office, Reagan campaigned vigorously to restore prayer to the schools, first as a moment of prayer and later as a Moment of Silence.
Today, we are seeing the result and paying the price for kicking God out of public schools. While critics tend to rely on the three-decade long decline of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to document the dumbing down of American education, more alarming is U.S. performance against the students of other industrialized countries. By virtually every measure of achievement, American students lag far behind their counterparts in both Asia and Europe, especially in math and science. Moreover, the evidence suggests that they are falling farther and farther behind. The U.S. is among the countries expending the highest proportion of their gross national product on education but U.S. elementary school and secondary school students never place above the median in comparative studies of academic achievement. Today the U.S. ranks 25th – 28th in Math under liberalism and without God.
In summer 1981 PATCO, the union of federal air traffic controllers went on strike, violating a federal law prohibiting government unions from striking. Declaring the situation an emergency as described in the 1947 Taft–Hartley Act, Reagan stated that if the air traffic controllers “do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated”. They did not return and on August 5, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order, and used supervisors and military controllers to handle the nation’s commercial air traffic until new controllers could be hired and trained. A leading reference work on public administration concluded, “The firing of PATCO employees not only demonstrated a clear resolve by the president to take control of the bureaucracy, but it also sent a clear message to the private sector that unions no longer needed to be feared”.
During Jimmy Carter’s last year in office, inflation averaged 12.5%, compared with 4.4% during Reagan’s last year in office. During Reagan’s administration, the unemployment rate declined from 7.5% to 5.4%, with the rate reaching highs of 10.8% in 1982 and 10.4% in 1983, averaging 7.5% over the eight years.
I hear the talking heads tell us that the Obama recovery after Bush is greater than the Reagan recovery after Carter. Sorta like “if you like your plan you can keep your plan, period.” Reagan’s economy was so strong that, for the last three-quarters of his administration, Americans were flooding into the workforce. Under Obama, the opposite has happened, and those who have given up on working aren’t counted as unemployed. Even today labor-force participation remains at its lowest level since 1978. Don’t blame waves of retirement for that fact: the Census Bureau reported that, from 2005 to 2010, older Americans actually became more likely to be employed. The percentage of 65-69 year-olds remaining in the workforce jumped from 26 percent to 32 percent over a ten-year-period ending in 2012. Among those 70-74 the jump was even more startling: from 14 percent to 19.5 percent. Meanwhile workers in the prime of their lives have simply left the playing field.
How about overall growth? GDP under Reagan was turbocharged compared to the Obama years. The Reagan years brought annual real GDP growth of 3.5 percent – 4.9 percent after the recession. In inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, GDP jumped from 6.5 trillion at the end of 1980 to 8.61 trillion at the end of 1988. That’s a 32 percent bump. As Peter Ferrara pointed out on Forbes, it was the equivalent of adding the West German economy to the U.S. one.
Under Obama, GDP up to June 30, 2014 has grown an anemic 9.6 percent, total. Reagan-era growth was far more than double the Obama rate.
How did that so-called Reagan trickle down economy work for ordinary Americans? Real inflation-adjusted median household income shot up some ten percent during the Reagan years. It has flat lined or declined by $4,000 under Obama.
Sixteen million new jobs were created, while inflation significantly decreased. The net effect of all Reagan-era tax bills was a 1% decrease in government revenues when compared to Treasury Department revenue estimates from the Administration’s first post-enactment January budgets. However, federal income tax receipts increased from 1980 to 1989, rising from $308.7 billion to $549 billion reflecting the dramatic growth in the economy.
Reagan escalated the Cold War, accelerating a reversal from the policy of détente which began in 1979 following the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Reagan ordered a massive buildup of the United States Armed Forces and implemented new policies towards the Soviet Union: reviving the B-1 Lancer program that had been canceled by the Carter administration, and producing the MX missile. In response to Soviet deployment of the SS-20, Reagan oversaw NATO’s deployment of the Pershing missile in West Germany.
Reagan was the first American president ever to address the British Parliament. Together with the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan denounced the Soviet Union in ideological terms saying, “the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism–Leninism on the ash heap of history”. On March 3, 1983, he predicted that communism would collapse, stating, “Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written”. In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire”.
After Soviet fighters downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Moneron Island on September 1, 1983, carrying 269 people, including Georgia congressman Larry McDonald, Reagan labeled the act a “massacre” and declared that the Soviets had turned “against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere”. The Reagan administration responded to the incident by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets, wounding them financially. As result of the shoot down, and the cause of KAL 007’s going astray thought to be inadequacies related to its navigational system, Reagan announced on September 16, 1983, that the Global Positioning System would be made available for civilian use, free of charge, once completed in order to avert similar navigational errors in future.
Under a policy that came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine, Reagan and his administration also provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to “rollback” Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan deployed the CIA’s Special Activities Division to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were instrumental in training, equipping and leading Mujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. President Reagan’s Covert Action program has been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
In March 1983, Reagan introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative, a defense project that would have used ground- and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. The Soviets became concerned about the possible effects SDI would have; leader Yuri Andropov said it would put “the entire world in jeopardy”. For those reasons, David Gergen, former aide to President Reagan, believes that in retrospect, SDI hastened the end of the Cold War.
In the 1984 presidential election, Reagan won every state except for Washington, D.C., and his opponent’s home state of Minnesota. Today the liberal arm of the Republican Party keeps screaming that Conservatives cannot get elected. Senior GOP leaders have all but declared war against Conservatives.
Reagan accepted the Republican nomination in Dallas, Texas. He proclaimed that it was “morning again in America”, regarding the recovering economy and the dominating performance by the U.S. athletes at the 1984 Summer Olympics, among other things. He became the first American president to open an Olympic Games held in the United States.
Until the early 1980s, the United States had relied on the qualitative superiority of its weapons to essentially frighten the Soviets, but the gap had been narrowed. Saudi Arabia increased oil production, which resulted in a drop of oil prices in 1985 to one-third of the previous level; oil was the main source of Soviet export revenues. These factors contributed to a stagnant Soviet economy during Gorbachev’s tenure. Mikhail Gorbachev was the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union.
Reagan recognized the change in the direction of the Soviet leadership with Mikhail Gorbachev, and shifted to diplomacy, with a view to encourage the Soviet leader to pursue substantial arms agreements. Reagan believed that if he could persuade the Soviets to allow for more democracy and free speech, this would lead to reform and the end of Communism.
Speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to go further, saying:
“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
The two leaders laid the framework for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I; Reagan insisted that the name of the treaty be changed from Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.
When Reagan visited Moscow for a summit in 1988, he was viewed as a celebrity by the Soviets. A journalist asked the president if he still considered the Soviet Union the evil empire. “No”, he replied, “I was talking about another time, another era”. At Gorbachev’s request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at the Moscow State University. In his autobiography, An American Life, Reagan expressed his optimism about the new direction that they charted and his warm feelings for Gorbachev. In November 1989, ten months after Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Cold War was officially declared over at the Malta Summit on December 3, 1989, and two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Both Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev were awarded Nobel peace prizes. Gorbachev was also honored with the Otto Hahn Peace Medal, the Harvey Prize and several honorary doctorates from various universities.
Sorta makes your stomach churn does it not? No, Ronald Reagan was never awarded the Nobel peace prize but many said he won it. They just gave it to Gorbachev instead. I think it is telling when you see who were tossed the prize versus those who were snubbed. Mahatma Gandhi, had several nominations and one of the strongest resumes in any peace movement but Gandhi failed to win the peace prize. Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the Philippines; Aquino was a symbol of democracy for the Asian world. She lost her Nobel bid to Elie Wiesel. Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the Guatemalan activist who fabricated her autobiography and supported murderous Communist guerrillas and tablecloth wearing Yasser Arafat were shoo-ins. Joining Carter and Gorby are Mohammed El Baradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency chairman who consistently underplayed Iranian nuclear ambitions, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Barack Obama, in the very first year of his presidency. Recognition of genuine achievement has been replaced by the worst kind of genuflection toward liberal icons. I hope they enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.
The legacy of Ronald Reagan will live on throughout the future of the World. As a reminder, here are some quotes by the Gipper:
“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”
“Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.”
“A taxpayer is someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take a civil-service exam.”
“One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.”
“One legislator accused me of having a nineteenth-century attitude on law and order. That is a totally false charge. I have an eighteenth-century attitude. That is when the Founding Fathers made it clear that the safety of law-abiding citizens should be one of the government’s primary concerns.”
“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
“The ultimate determinate in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve; the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideas to which we are dedicated.”
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them — this morning, as they prepared for their journey, and waved good-bye, and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'” (Speech about the Challenger disaster).
“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
“It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”
“A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
“Trust, but verify.”
“I hope you’re all Republicans.” (to surgeons as he entered the operating room following his assassination attempt)
“The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray to God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest.”
“Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”
“Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”
“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 nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”
“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”
“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”