Happy Ronald Reagan Day, Citizens for Self-Governance!

Today would have been the Gipper’s 112th birthday, and January 20 marked 42 years since he assumed the presidency.

The impact the 40th President of the United States had on America, the world, and all of history is simply incalculable. In celebration of Ronald Reagan Day 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida rightly described the 40th president of the United States as an “iconic leader whose legacy continues to inspire.” This year, more than half of America’s governors have paid tribute to Reagan.

Today, in memory of The Great Communicator and his great legacy, let us recall four of his most timeless quotes and sayings:

1. “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

If there be any doubt as to where Reagan stood in regard to the role of government, these words from his First Inaugural Address certify his pro-limited government stance. Initially a fan of progressive president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Reagan eventually grew disillusioned with big government “help,” and spent much of his early political career criticizing the so-called “Great Society.”

Reagan’s First Inaugural was his commitment to the American people that under his administration, government would abstain from playing Big Brother, a promise he largely kept.

SEE ALSO: Seeds of liberty – Great speeches pt. 4

2. “Now. . . while the national power is prodigious, what has happened to the security of freedom and our right to the ownership of the fruit of our toil?”

This simple question, posed in Reagan’s “The Myth of the Great Society” speech (in which he debunked the efficacy of President Lyndon B Johnson’s government-initiated social programs to end poverty), in many ways parallels the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Reagan was drawing attention to the fact that the “prodigious” expanse of government came at the expense of shrinking freedom. He warned that Americans were finding their “security” in government programs and as a result, losing security of their freedom. He urged his hearers to reject government growth and instead return to the “most limited… government in the long history of man’s relation to man.”

SEE ALSO: President Reagan’s guide to self-governance

3. “It is clear that we must rely on the states to force Congress to act. . . Fortunately, our Nation’s Founders gave us the means to amend the Constitution through action of state legislatures. . . Unless we act quickly, the people in the White House and those running Congress will bankrupt America.”

At the beginning of his “Myth of the Great Society Speech,” Reagan worried that the “permanent structure of government” might one day grow “beyond the will of the people.”

It was a valid concern. Reagan had no illusions, however, that stopping government from swelling to that point of indifference would be an easy task. On several occasions, he opined that preventing the political bankruptcy of America would require an Article V Convention of States. Notably, he said the states “must” use Article V. There was no question in his mind: the growth of government he spent his whole political career fighting would never be stopped by “[b]ig-spending leaders of Congress.” “We can’t depend on Congress to discipline itself,” he said. It would take a Convention of States.

4. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It has to be fought for and defended by each generation.”

To those who would say the fight for freedom is not worth it, or is hopeless, or too costly, consider this Reagan’s stern rebuke. Our children’s freedom is not guaranteed. It could all vanish in the blink of an eye. Therefore, the fight to ensure its safe transfusion was, is, and always will be imperative. 

More than a rebuke, however, Reagan’s words were an encouragement to all Americans to never give up. Just as past generations handed freedom down to us, we must do the same to our posterity.

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