The Political Werewolf
If you know me, then you know I'm a big political nut. So, I've decided to add my own personal flavor to the realm of political discussion. We'll be talking about various issues - some of them having to do with current events, others perhaps more on a philosophical level. But in any case, you're free to respond to whatever you read here, either by E-mail or on the message board.
All righty, here we go.
So Long, Dutch
As I was getting ready to go to work this morning, I had my TV on Fox News, and one of the reporters was talking about how the Reagan family was bracing for the former president's final days. Neither I, nor any of his family, could have guessed that this was indeed his final day.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, nicknamed "The Great Communicator" for his passion in his beliefs and his eloquence in expressing them, has passed away at the age of 93, after a long, painful battle with Alzheimers disease. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, his daughter, Patty, and his two sons, Michael and Ron Jr.
To be honest, I don't have the frame of reference that others may have when it comes to talking about what Reagan did for this country. When he took office, I was only 2 years old. But I have heard many others speak about how Reagan lifted this country up from the swamp it had been in during the '70s, and how his moral clarity and solid base of principles made the 1980s one of the most prosperous and successful eras in American history. Reagan may not be the single best president this country has had - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR will all give him some serious competition - but he seriously deserves a place in the upper eschelon of leaders.
Prior to his taking office, the United States was a mess. We were still licking our wounds from the Vietnam War, where we had managed to convince ourselves that we were the villains in that conflict. Citizens were waiting in line to get gasoline. The unrest in Iran was botched, with dozens of Americans being taken hostage and the country openly threatening America. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was freely invading other countries, and making its military presence felt throughout the world. President Jimmy Carter called it "malaise", but it was worse than that - it was despair. Americans honestly believed that their best days were behind them.
But when Reagan took office, all that changed. By slashing tax rates, the economy flourished and tax revenue doubled. He sought to not just contain the Soviet empire, he wanted to defeat it - and did so by building up our arsenal so fast and so broadly that the Soviets couldn't keep up. He went after threats whereever they materialized, from Grenada to Libya, and in doing so sent a message across the globe that there was a new sheriff in town, and this one wasn't going to let the bad guys get away with everything. He reinvigorated the country with a new sense of patriotism and optimism. His disarming charisma and eloquence introduced a new breed of citizen - the "Reagan Democrat".
Granted, much of this was in the face of opposition and criticism from every angle imaginable. Critics were in shock when Reagan called the USSR exactly what it was - an "evil empire". When he walked away from the bargaining table in Reykjavik in 1986, his opponents were afraid that he had just signed our own death warrant. And when he demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev "Tear down this wall" in 1987, skeptics again were terrified of the repercussions of challenging the Soviet premier. But Reagan stood his ground the whole time, and as a result, he almost singlehandedly won the Cold War - and in doing so, hundreds of millions of eastern Europeans living behind the Iron Curtain had a chance to enjoy the freedom that we here not only take for granted, but almost riot when the slightest sacrifice of them is necessary.
As a conservative, Ronald Reagan is everything that we aspire to be. He was solid in his principle. He was steadfast in the face of criticism. He never backed down from threats. He was inspirational and motivational, encouraging Americans to do more and be more than they thought they could. He is the embodiment of the American dream. He was a pure conservative, from head to toe, and always made his decisions in terms of what would be best for the country. And he was the last person to take credit any of the good he had done.
Customarily, when a president dies, the American flag is to be flown at half-mast. We should not do that for this president; we should fly the flag twice as high, because it was he who made us truly proud to be an American. Normally we wear black in mourning. But instead, we should wear the red, white and blue that Reagan himself cherished. We should not be morose. We should not be melancholy. We should instead be grateful that a man like Ronald Reagan was president, and helped the United States become the strongest, freest, and most prosperous country in the world. The president who was sometimes known as "Dutch" did so much for this country, and now he is in a place fitting for a man of his caliber.