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  • Morning Bell: On Reagan's Birthday, His Legacy Lives On

    Today marks President Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday. Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan made his journey west to Iowa as a radio broadcaster, then on to California to take Hollywood by storm. He crossed America as a spokesman for General Electric, and then — after discovering the import of conservative values — entered the political arena, where he would ultimately lead his fellow citizens out of a wilderness of self-doubt, helping the country come to see that it could be morning in America once again.

    We at The Heritage Foundation invite you to join us in celebrating Reagan’s life and legacy. For those of you on Facebook, click here to join the thousands of others who have already signed our virtual birthday card to President Reagan. Leave your message about what Reagan’s legacy means to you, share it with friends, and take part in this celebration today.

    Upon his inauguration, Reagan was confronted with a deep economic crisis, one of the worst sustained inflations in America’s history, historically high unemployment, the fallout from an energy crisis, stagnation, massive government spending, an untenable tax burden, a hollow military, and the Soviet threat. Yet in the face of the economic crisis, President Reagan turned toward not more government, but less. And in the face of a global threat, he turned toward a stronger military and international leadership — not a weaker military and retrenchment. Reagan understood as well as any that the framework envisioned by the Founders — and set forth in the Constitution — was one that trusted the people to govern themselves, not one that subjugated them to the rule of the few, as reflected in his First Inaugural Address:

    From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

    We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, “We the people,” this breed called Americans.

    The circumstances that Reagan faced are not unlike those that America sees today. The United States faces the threat of entitlement spending growing out of control, a massive debt, a looming tax burden, soaring energy prices, and security threats around the globe. And like Reagan, America’s leaders are faced with a choice: more government or less, a weaker military or a stronger one? We know from history what Reagan would have done. And we also know why he would have done it.

    As we look back, we remember that throughout his presidency, Reagan returned again and again to the idea that in all circumstances and with each decision, he was guided by the Constitution. In his State of the Union speeches, Reagan referred to the Constitution more than any other president in the preceding 50 years. A survey of his presidential papers reveals 1,270 references to the Constitution during his eight years in the White House and another 113 mentions of the Declaration of Independence. As part of Heritage’s “Preserve the Constitution” series, we invited two former Reagan Cabinet members and two Reagan historians to discuss how the Constitution provided the foundation of the Reagan presidency. In examining Reagan’s recipe for success, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, who served under President Reagan, noted “Why was President Reagan so successful? I would suggest that one reason is: He did what the Constitution said he should do, and he did what the Founders had in mind in terms of a constitutional presidency.”

    Reagan looked to the Constitution as his North Star in leading the country forward. Today’s leaders have the benefit of that same star — and also of Reagan’s example. To truly honor Reagan’s legacy, we at Heritage each day carry forth the conservative values that our 40th President held so dear. Since 1973, we have worked to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish. We were privileged to stand alongside President Reagan when he articulated his conservative vision for America, and we are proud to continue that work today.

    Remember to join us in honoring President Reagan by posting a “Happy Birthday” message on our Facebook page! Click here to send your message!

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    Click here to view this post in Spanish on Libertad.org.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Morning Bell: On Reagan's Birthday, His Legacy Lives On

    1. CHRISTOPHER says:

      There are no more Reagans on the political horizon now. This "Once Great Nation" is in sore, desperate need of one to heal the damage inflicted by the Democratic Party, their minions and their most serious threat to Constitutional Government, the Islamic (Christian Pretender) Barack Hussein Obama. This POTUS must be defeated in 2012. Elements of Shariah Law are already appearing in our culture and in our law. Time is short for the salvation of our Great Founding Documents and our Liberty!!!!!!

    2. MarcJeric says:

      In November 1984, the Americans working in Madrid, Spain, gathered overnight in the assembly room of the US Embassy there to await the results of the election. As the states one by one kept falling into the Reagan column the chers would errupt across the hall. Finally, at about 6pm the results were clear – a 49-state sweep for RR! I went then home for a couple of hours of sleep before going to work. And now we are faced with 4 more years of Mullah Obama and his continuing communization of America.

    3. sdfultz says:

      Are you guys really signing abirthday card to a dead man? Really?

    4. I was born during the first Eisenhower administration and have seen several men elected to the POTUS, and lived through the passing of several Presidents. There was only one President that I shed tears for at his passing: Ronald Reagan. He was and will always be the greatest President of my lifetime and even though his administration is over and he, himself, has passed, I long for the days of Ronald Reagan. May God bless his memory among his fellow Americans.

    5. Jeanne Stotler says:

      What we need now is a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, He was a great president and stood up for what he believed in, now we have one who beieves George Soros and on top of it all, keeps hiding his true idenity, watch the case in Georgia.

    6. toledofan says:

      I think that the difference between today, Obamas ideology and yesterday, the good old Reagan days, is really pretty simple; Reagan was a man with ideals, morals, and a clear distinction that America was that shinning light on the hill. He believed in American exceptionalism and understood that people when cut free from government intervention produced exceptional results. Reagan believed that to be strong we had to be strong and did whatever it took to keep us safe. Today, the ideology of this administration is the opposite and it's all about big government, big spending, and total control without any leadership. The only shinning light is the light that comes from the Oval Office.

    7. TimUpham says:

      We can all learn from our presidents, regardless who they were. In the case of Ronald Reagan, it was during the Cold War, he referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire." When he was in Moscow, for successful arms negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev, a reporter asked him "what happened to your evil empire?" He responded "that was another place, another time." Let this reconciliation and forgiveness, serve as a role model for other political entities. Hopefully, when the day comes when Hamas recognizes the State of Israel, that its doctrine of intolerance can be replaced with "that was another place, another time."

    8. Ron W. Smith says:

      Why not honor Reagan? He did much for the country in standing down Russia and in other ways. I voted for him once.
      The reasons I didn't vote a second time had to do with the direction of our country. First, it was clear, as a second term approached, that he had encouraged the loosening of credit as a way to assure growth of the middle class. Credit card use was expanded broadly, at the time, to assure a "rising tide" that would "lift all boats." Wages certainly didn't rise in any important way (and haven't, when adjusted for inflation, since 1980). Second, Reagan was short-term oriented, not long term. Investment in infrastructure and, especially, manufacturing took a nosedive as shareholder return became more important than assuring long-term stability in free-market capitalist enterprise. (Michel Aubert's Capitalism vs. Capitalism covered this wonderfully at the time.) It was during his presidency that annual deficits began exploding, partly, of course, because the military buildup behind the standing down of Russia was expensive, but those deficits have continued upward as replacement enemies have been seemingly everywhere to be found in the environs of our worldwide presence, our foreign policy helping to incubate enemies more than stay them.) Third, a dagger was struck in the heart of the union movement when Reagan fired federally employed air traffic controllers, effectively beginning the downward spiral of the union movement and keeping lesser boats from being lifted by tides obviously lifting the big vessels. ( Eliminating unions is a bad objective guaranteed to produce long-term problems for wage earners, their benefits, their work conditions. The object should be to make them unnecessary and leave hope intact, a very tough objective for those who want a work force compliant, voiceless, underpaid and overworked while a very few in America benefit greatly.)
      If that seems harsh judgment of President Reagan, it's meant more for clarity of retrospective than destruction of the Reagan legacy (as is the case in Will Bunch's Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future). I have too much admiration for him and what he accomplished even if I refuse empty-headed hero worship.

    9. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Carter=good. Reagan=bad. Really? Somebody should tell that to Ronald Reagan if he was still here. If we had
      a time machine, and moved the 69-year-old Ronald Reagan from 1980, to 2008, and put him in the 2008 campaign, he'd probably get the nomination, and face Obama in the election. When Obama went after him,
      Reagan's retorts would be: "There you go again," "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?", and
      "I will not hold him, my opponent's youth and inexperience," (from the 1984 debate against Walter Mondale).
      John McCain seemed over rehearsed four years ago. His handlers didn't "let McCain be McCain." Today, as in
      1980, we can't afford to have another President with on-the-job training. We need a President who's ready to
      hit the ground running. It might be someone with a realistic shot of winning the election, like Romney, Newt,
      or Santorum. What about Ron Paul? He doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning either the nomination, or the election.

    10. Jon Lacey says:

      Everybody in politic's want's to be, or use, or take liberty with a man that is one of a kind, you know he was great when as much as Liberal Democratic politicians quote him, try to act like him, be a hero/star like he was.
      If you were to elect Ronald Reagan president after Bush, does anybody in the Democratic Party think we would be in the same situation, we are today?
      Not one Tea Party members, not one Conservative, not one undecided, and very few Democratic voters would believe that Ronald Reagan would sell us out, like these people in Washington D.C. are doing today!
      Thanks Ronald Reagan for being a cowboy!

    11. frank says:

      Please, while you are putting Mr. Reagan on the pedestal, please remember that his increases in ss taxes to pay for star wars plus put the middle class further behind forever. Next to Mr. Nixon's fiasco with Kissinger and the Shah of Iran, Reagan's moves have cost this country dearly; I'm not sure I'd call that progress. You are correct in complaining about those in office now, but, I have a problem going from one extreme to the other. Let's take the things that make this country the best and improve them, not re-invent the wheel and scrap the entire last 200 plus years. I can't see any progress in the last 25 years, that's a sad commentary.

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