I know I'm a couple days late. Laura Ingrahm had her beautiful tribute 2 days ago. But to commemorate the birthday of Ronald Reagan, which was this week, I want to re-post a tribute that I wrote in his honor 2 years ago, in my old newspaper, The Front Range Rampart:
On the occasion of Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it is worth reflecting on the enormous positive impact this remarkable President and man had on the United States and the world.
The issue on which most Americans agree – the praise that even liberals will allow – is that Reagan made us proud to be Americans again. After the dark days of Vietnam and Jimmy Carter’s stagflation, Reagan brought us a new day, filled with vitality and optimism.
Renewing the American spirit was the immediate benefit of the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. But Americans have much more than that to be thankful for. Reagan strengthened America’s military, to the point of staring down the Soviets and ultimately bringing an end to a long, tense, and costly Cold War confrontation.
Reagan gave hope to the forces of freedom around the world – from Latin American citizens, almost all of whom would have the right to vote for their leaders by the time Reagan left office, to Soviet dissidents who would tap out coded messages about Reagan’s speeches on their jail cell bars.
And Reagan lastingly changed – perhaps forever – the environment in Washington. No longer would government grow simply because it always had and no one knew another way. He inspired and gave voice to those Republicans who understood that the People are more important than the Government. Great things followed from this change in thinking, from the Contract With America to some – a few – of President Bush’s proposals today.
Reagan introduced a new paradigm into government policy – one that has struggled to be heard since, but which is unlikely to go away. In the stead of a history of fiscally moderate Republicans – leaders who would spend less, but not a little – Reagan introduced into practice the concept of fiscal conservatism.
Fiscal conservatives, who were first forcefully, if not as ably, led by Barry Goldwater, were energized by Reagan’s leadership. He dared to suggest that government was doing too much, rather than not enough, was spending more than it should, and even that there were government programs that were perpetuating the social problems they were ostensibly meant to solve.
America is a better place today because of Ronald Reagan and the vision that he gave us for America – the bright, shining city on a hill that we can all aspire to, and which we still have hopes of approaching.