Ronald Reagan’s Most Important Legacy

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon a “full, free and absolute” pardon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, and the future of the United States was forever changed.  It signaled the beginning of a new relationship between the country and its citizens.  It is difficult to imagine it could have been any worse if the country had endured a trial that would have been contentious.  It is easy to believe it could have been better than the inherent distrust now felt by many citizens.

A little over six years later, Ronald Reagan solidified the antagonistic feelings experienced by many Americans.  In his first inaugural address, delivered on January 20, 1981 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=43130), he galvanized the nameless distaste so many citizens had been feeling when he stated, “… government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

While this country was founded with a strong thread of disagreement imbedded in the nature of its citizens, it was so necessary that we should be united, our founding fathers included that word in our name.  We were not founded as the “Group of States of America.”  No.  We were established as the “United States of America.”

Ronald ReaganSome may disagree, but a brief look at the quotations of other presidents reveals that no other has so many pronouncements attributed to him that speak negatively about the institution and the public servants who carry on the business of the country he promised to lead.  In the more than three decades since he took office, his policies of deregulation and taxation have brought this once powerful country to the brink of destruction.

Taking his election to a second term as a signal he should continue his assault, he noted his commitment to the same destructive principles in his second inaugural address delivered on January 21, 1985 (http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres62.html).  He observed, “We have begun to increase the rewards for work, savings, and investment; reduce the increase in the cost and size of government and its interference in people’s lives.”  Again, the federal government was cast as the “bad guy,” and Reagan was unrelenting as he continued to eat away at our respect for the government we had created.

Here are just a few of the statements attributed to him.  Some of the quotations may vary from source to source, but the sentiments are clear:

The Bureaucracy

  • Unless bureaucracy is constantly resisted, it breaks down representative government and overwhelms democracy.
  • The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world.
  • Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

Government Funding

  • The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.
  • Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.
  • And I have to point out that government doesn’t tax to get the money it needs, government always needs the money it gets.

Government Power

  • Government is never more dangerous than when our desire to have it help us blinds us to its great power to harm us.
  • There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.
  • The federal government has taken too much tax money from the people, too much authority from the states, and too much liberty with the Constitution.
  • Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
  • Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself. … [I] hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.
  • I’m convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority.
  • Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.
  • Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.
  • Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
  • No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!
  • Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.
  • Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
  • The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.
  • Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.
  • The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
  • The best view of big government is in the rear view mirror as we leave it behind.

He ended his presidency the same way he had begun it.  In his farewell speech of January 11, 1989 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29650), he reiterated his distaste of the government when he said, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  Now, it seems, we cannot free ourselves from his terrible legacy.

SOURCES

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

http://appalachianconservative.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/ronald-reagan-quotes-on-government-and-liberty

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22The+best+view+of+big+government+is+in+the+rearview+mirror+as+we+leave+it+behind.%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

INTERESTING LINKS

http://www.examiner.com/article/8-reasons-why-ronald-reagan-was-the-worst-president-of-our-lifetime

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/29/ronald_reagans_shameful_legacy_violence_the_homeless_mental_illness/

Last Edited:  2015-02-18


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