It seems my friend Rick Sincere was the first in the blogosphere to wish Americans a Happy Reagan Day on this, the ninety-eighth anniversary of the birth of the greatest American president of the second half of the twentieth century, the chief executive with the most successful economic policy of that entire century.
In a nice summary of Reagan’s reputation and political philosophy, Rick also references Reagan’s outspoken opposition to the Briggs Initiative. That pernicious proposal would have banned gays from teaching at California public schools. Indeed, the eponymous Senator Briggs attributed the Gipper’s opposition to the measure’s “ignominious defeat”. And the Gipper did this in 1978, at a time when, as Rick reminds us, such opposition “would not help him politically. He did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Indeed, such opposition could hurt him, it risked alienating the Gipper from the Christian Right, then an emerging “faction” of his party.
As we celebrate Reagan’s birthday during the Administration of the first of his successors trying to repudiate his ideas, it’s important that we remember what those ideas were.Â He provided a nice summary in his 1964 speech on behalf of then-GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. Those ideas would not just explain his support for that principled Arizonan, but also come to define his own basic political philosophy for his subsequent political career.
So, today, as we remember the Gipper on the anniversary of his birth, let us not just recall Ronald Reagan the man. Not just the successful president and charismatic leader. Let us also remember Ronald Reagan, man of ideas.
As we recall his ideas — and affirm them ourselves — we will be better equipped to debate the issues of the day. When others call our party’s attempt to block a spendthrift “stimulus” as obstructionist or rejectionist, tell them that in opposing this boondoggle, we are not merely rejecting a proposal which, we believe, will be harmful over the long term, we are affirming the vision of Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Let us always remember the Gipper’s guiding idea: freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
And the less government intrudes on our freedom, the better off we are. And the stronger our economy is. And will be.