Nancy Reagan will be buried today, next to her husband at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
It’s hard to think of Nancy Reagan without thinking of her husband. And it’s impossible to think of her husband without thinking of the kind of man he was, the kind of candidate he was, and the kind of president he was.
I know. It’s not 1984, you say. Move on, you say.
Okay, fair enough. But I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that a man who won California and New York twice might have something to offer the Republican candidates of 2016. Yes, the map has changed, but it hasn’t changed that much.
Sure, some of Reagan’s immortal lines (evil empires and tearing down walls come to mind), though truly great, are limited in their transcendence by the circumstances of the times, and may not be as relevant to today’s world.
But there are some things Ronald Reagan said that are as timely now as they were thirty years ago, and that any candidate would do well to heed, and to repeat. Not because they were said by Ronald Reagan, but because they are the truth, and the truth is always relevant.
You want my vote? Talk like this:
1) “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?”
2) “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.”
3) “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.”
4) “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.”
5) “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.”
6) “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.”
7) “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”
8) “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
9) “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
10) “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
11) “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”
12) “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”
13) “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.”
14) “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.”
15) “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”