Remembering President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Ronald Reagan lead the Conservative arm of the Republican Party to triumph over the “Establishment Republicans” Photo: Ronald Reagan

SAN JOSE, CA, February 6, 2013 - One of the most important leaders of the Republican Party in the last 50 years, Ronald Wilson Reagan, was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. 

Ronald Reagan transformed the Republican Party through a revolution via the Conservative arm of the Republican Party that finally triumphed over the traditional Republicans or “Establishment Republicans” when he won his party’s nomination for President in 1980.

In the presidential election of 1980, Reagan won the hearts of the American people and was elected in a landslide. Reagan also transformed the nation as he helped to pull America out of the grip of a terrible recession and generated a renewed respect for the United States in the world community.

Despite being sixty-nine years of age, Reagan was elected President of the United States, and is still the record holder as the oldest American to be elected president, as he was re-elected at age seventy-three. He was going strong at seventy years of age, and despite an assassin’s attempt on his life, despite a devastating horse-riding accident, despite cancer, and despite requiring brain surgery, all after he was seventy, Ronald Reagan ranks highly among all of the U.S. Presidents as he conducted his job amidst a dangerous and turbulent world. He is remembered as an icon, especially among the Conservative wing of the Republican Party as he solved America’s economic problems and restored the country’s prestige around the world.

Although he was a Democrat earlier in his life, Reagan grew more conservative as he grew older, and by 1962, he became a Republican. Two years later, during the 1964 presidential race, he delivered a rousing speech in support of the nomination of Barry Goldwater at the Republican National Convention. Unfortunately, he was not able to receive his party’s nomination for president, although he tried in 1968 and in 1976, until the 1980 presidential election. He managed to successfully fight an uphill battle against the Establishment Republicans and charmed the American public to select him over incumbant Jimmy Carter in the general election. He won his second term in a landslide victory as well.

Taking office with the U.S. Congress divided with a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and a Republican-controlled Senate, it was an extreme challenge for his leadership, but Ronald Reagan was able to achieve the passage of his bold legislative programs. Surprisingly, Reagan was the first former leader of a labor union to be elected President of the United States, as he had been twice served as leader of the Screen Actors Guild. However, he was an economic conservative and was not afraid to promote the agenda and was not shy when it came to explaining his views of what he believed made America great. 

In his first inaugural address, he spoke strongly and confidently of America: “As we renew ourselves here in our own land we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom…”  His conservative economic agenda, later to become known as “Reaganomics,” was capable of holding down inflation and creating millions of new jobs by the end of his second term. In addition, Reagan stood firm against Communism as the Soviets were in the midst of a massive buildup of nuclear weapons, and he stood up for America’s founding principles around the world.   

At his core, Ronald Reagan believed that America was “exceptional” as he believed that there was something special about America that set the nation apart from the other nations in the world. Today it is known as the concept of “American Exceptionalism,” which Leftists or Marxists, Communists will falsely point out that it was originally a concept brought up by Communist dictator, Joseph Stalin, as he severely criticized the members of the American Communist Party because of their belief that America did not fall under the Marxist laws of human historical development. However, Stalin’s words actually decried “the heresy of American exceptionalism.” 

The concept of “American Exceptionalism,” despite the limited perception of Leftists or Marxists, needs to be put within the context of a deeper examination of American history. Actually, it is a concept that can be traced to Alexis de Tocqueville as he described the U.S. as “exceptional” because of the founding principles of freedom and liberty, rugged individualism, and free enterprise. The concept raises the scales on the backs of the Left-leaning individuals because they look primarily at the points of departure from America’s founding principles rather that the sincere attempts to adhere to these principles. It is quite easy to pick up on the history of failure to live up to the ideals, but not as easy to admit there have been many to strive for the fulfillment of the ideals of the Founders.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was one who made such attempts to help Americans re-discover the greatness of the nation. While campaigning for president, one of Reagan’s famous lines was that the people should elect him to help “get the government off of people’s backs, echoing the Founder’s belief in limited government. While in office, Reagan fought to shrink the sheer size of the federal government and to reduce the extensive intrusion of government into American’s daily lives. What a concept. When Reagan took up residence in the White House, he quickly moved to impact the recession by lowering taxes and the number of federal regulations in order to stimulate the economy and get Americans back to work.

Reagan is still controversial. Conservatives still love him as an icon of the Conservative arm of the Republican Party. Leftists and Liberals tend to hate him. One of the biggest criticisms of Reagan, and something that he felt bad about, was leaving behind such a large budget deficit after he left office. However, one of the observations made by an earlier president, Democrat Grover Cleveland, was that if you leave money in the federal treasury, government officials will always find one way or another to spend it. Reagan, like Cleveland, never lost sight of whose money it was. Upon leaving office, he stated that, “Having temporary custody of this office has been for me a sacred trust and honor beyond words or measure.”       

Happy Birthday, President Reagan!

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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.


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