Ronald Reagan, 1911 - 2004
June 5th, 2004 was Reagan's last day.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th United States President, died at the age of 93. For the last ten years of his life he and his family dealt with his Alzheimer's and as a result, the former president left the public eye shortly after leaving office so the last thing we really remember about him was his contributions as our President during most of the 1980s.
During those years Reagan was in office, I grew into my teens. I couldn't vote and as most kids my age at the time, didn't care all that much about politics. So I never really watched the man do his thing as our President because at the time, I didn't care. I was more concerned with school, making friends, finding my personality and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life (still a work in progress btw). As an adult now, I am able to study history and research what kind of a man Reagan was.
Many know his career as a movie actor, his post as California's governor which paved the way for other actors to have the same post and of course his years as President. Ronald Reagan was a very interesting man and one I admire in many respects. He had ideas about life that I share, the kinds of ideas you wouldn't expect a politician to have.
In 1938 Ronald Reagan attempted to join the Communist Party. That's right, the man who would become Gorbachev's nemesis, destroy Communism's largest supporter and build America's military into a machine to protect us from the reds tried to be one himself. Interestingly, the party rejected his membership because they felt that it wouldn't have his full commitment and that he would change his political view spontaneously. The Communist Party had prophets!
Into the 40s Reagan was a huge FDR fan and New Deal supporter. Couple that with his role as Screen Actor's Guild President in the early 50s and you have the makings of a man with very liberal values.
In the 60s however, Reagan changed his political views and publicly supported Republican Barry Goldwater's campaign for Presdient by using his acting talents and appearing in his political commercials. That was the start of his career as a conservative and the rest is history.
I remember where I was when Reagan was shot in 1981. I was sitting in my 3rd grade classroom at Orion Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska. We were working on some crafts project and my teacher Mrs. Kimball wheeled in the TV set to watch the news.
I credit Reagan with some of the greatest quotes said by anyone, some I've used in my blog here to promote my own views and so I'd like to list a few more. You can't deny the impact Ronald Reagan had on the United States and arguably the world. I would say he will be missed, but he has been missed since he left office and public view.
"Government is like a big baby - an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other."
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away."
"Facts are stupid things."
"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, subsidise it."
"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."
"I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."
"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting."
"People don't start wars, governments do."
"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."
"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."
"The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away."
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
"It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it."
"We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down."
"It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government." This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them"
"Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, 'What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.' But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector."
"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path."
"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying."
"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes." (During a radio microphone test)
"I don't know if I could do this job if I weren't an actor."