Search for...
Follow @ontheissuesorg
OnTheIssuesLogo

Ronald Reagan on Principles & Values

President of the U.S., 1981-1989; Republican Governor (CA)


9 scariest words: I'm from the government & I'm here to help

Ronald Reagan famously said, "The 9 most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" 3 decades later, American life is micromanaged at every imaginable level. Citizens' basic day-to-day activities are subject to government scrutiny. We endure a federal government that has invaded virtually every aspect of our lives--from light bulbs, to toilets, to lemonade stands and beyond.

Our federal government regulates everything and anything. How much water goes into you commode. How much water comes out of your showerhead. The temperature of the water in your washing machine. How many miles to the gallon your car must get.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p. xxiii , Sep 12, 2012

1950s America was a different America; America is freedom

One Hollywood actor had this to say:

"Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions.

"But now, some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that American is freedom--and freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection."

The actor responsible for those words was Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address to the nation in 1989. His warnings still ring with truth.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.185-186 , Feb 14, 2012

Stanford University rejected Reagan presidential library

Stanford was facing a serious rift between conservative alumni and the school. Conservative faculty also felt that the university was compromising academic excellence in the service of political correctness.

One of the precipitating events occurred in 1988, when the university had ended the core humanities curriculum, called Western Civilization. Western Civ had been deemed to be about "dead white men" and therefore unacceptable for a multiethnic, multiracial, multigendered campus. The course had been replaced with Culture, Ideas and Values, also known as CIV, without the offending "Western" preceding it. CIV's curriculum required race at least one book by a "woman of color."

The rifts became chasms when Stanford rejected the request of the family of Ronald Reagan to establish his presidential library on campus. Ostensibly, the excuse was traffic congestion at the site, but everyone knew that it had been the agitation of a small but vocal group that forced the university to turn down the library.

Source: My Extraordinary Family, by Condi Rice, p.266-267 , Jan 10, 2012

1976: Considered outside of mainstream Republican Party

Gerald Ford was supported by Texas' US Senator John Tower and when Texas went for Reagan that year the delegates prevented Tower from getting floor credentials [to the nominating convention]. Instead, they named Ron Paul as the honorary head of the Texas delegation. At one point Tower did come onto the convention floor with borrowed credentials, but when a Texas delegate spotted him they had security escort him away. Reagan lost the nomination that year but essentially won the party.

Perhaps ironically, every Republican likes to claim the mantle of Reagan these days, sometimes out of genuine admiration, other times, pure politics. I'll always remember that much like my father today, Reagan in 1976 was considered by many establishment types to be outside the "mainstream" of the Republican Party.

At the 1976 convention, my father was one of only four US Congressmen to support Reagan over a sitting Republican president.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 29&33 , Feb 22, 2011

Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction

Preparing for my 2008 debate, I came across a quote from Ronald Reagan that perfectly expresses our need to preserve and protect American values:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on 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 when men were free."

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. xx , Nov 23, 2010

1980: Victory in New Hampshire primary sealed nomination

Dad announced his candidacy for the 1980 presidential election. He was a long shot against Ronald Reagan, but he ran a strong campaign in Iowa and won an upset victory in the caucus. Unfortunately, his hot streak ran out amid the cold winters of New Hampshire. Reagan defeated him there and continued on to the Republican nomination.

There was a lot of speculation about whom Reagan would choose for vice president. At the convention in Detroit, he was in discussion with Gerald Ford about some sort of co-presidency. They agreed it wouldn't work--a good decision. Then Reagan called Dad and asked him to be his running mate--an even better decision.

On election night, the Reagan-Bush ticket crushed Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale 489-49 in the Electoral College.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p. 42 , Nov 9, 2010

1975: conservative banners of bold colors, not pale pastels

Ronald Reagan understood the importance of clear statements for real change. That is why, in February 1975, in the depths of the Republican collapse after the Watergate scandal. He told CPAC, the annual conservative convention, that conservatives had to nail their cause to banners of bold colors and avoid pale pastels.

Reagan used this strategy throughout his political career. He had defeated a popular incumbent California governor by more than a million votes because Reagan boldly and clearly declared his opposition to more spending and higher taxes, and his commitment to bringing efficiency and eliminating waste in Sacramento.

He again contrasted his clear, profound beliefs with the temporizing "realism" of the Republican establishment in his 1976 presidential primary campaign against President Jerry Ford. And in 1980 Reagan again offered Americans a clear choice between his vision of a resurgent America and President Carter's focus on adapting to American decline.

Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p.154-155 , May 17, 2010

1984: I won't exploit my opponent's youth & inexperience

It's more important [than debating policy details] to be ready to flip a an attack onto favorable territory. Reagan did this effectively in his reelection campaign in 1984 after stumbling in his first debate. Facing questions about his age (he was then 73 and running against the 56-year-old Walter Mondale), Reagan shot back by saying, "I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.185 , Mar 9, 2010

1980: Won Texas by 14 points via local community organizing

In summer 1980, my role was to carry Texas for Ronald Reagan and my former boss, George H. W. Bush. We built a robust, statewide, grassroots organization in every country. Every conceivable voter group had its own state and local leadership, from farmers and ranchers to Hispanics to women to students to small business owners to doctors. [They ran] elaborate voter identification and get-out-the-vote operations. We put special efforts into precincts where past election returns provided evidence of lots of swing voters and even focused on Democratic primary voters in precincts where conservative Democrats ran well.

It was a huge success. We raised $3.1 million--more than all the Victory Committee in America combined. The Reagan national campaign supporte our efforts with a modest TV buy and a more-than-adequate number of appearances by Reagan and his home state vice presidential running mate, George H. W. Bush. In Texas, Reagan-Bush walloped Carter-Mondale by nearly 14 points.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 54-55 , Mar 9, 2010

Texas 1980: walloped Carter-Mondale by nearly 14 points

In summer 1980, [I had] a role to carry Texas for Reagan and Bush. We built a robust, statewide, grassroots organization in every county. Every conceivable voter group had its own state and local leadership, from farmers and ranchers to Hispanics to wome to students to small business owners to doctors to African-Americans.

The county committees and coalition groups were then drawn into an elaborate voter identification and get-out-the-vote operation from more than a hundred phone centers and many more local headquarters. We put special efforts into precincts where past election returns provided evidence of lots of swing voters and even focused on Democratic primary voters in precincts where conservative Democrats ran well.

It was a huge success. We raised $3.1 million. The Reagan national campaign supported our efforts with a modest TV buy and a more-than-adequate number of appearances by Reagan & Bush. In Texas, Reagan-Bush walloped Carter-Mondale by nearly 14 points.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 54-55 , Mar 9, 2010

Spoke "to independents & Democrats seeking better future"

President Ronald Reagan always began his speeches by addressing "My fellow Republicans, and those independents and Democrats who are looking for a better future." There were not enough Republicans to win in 1980, so Reagan won by attracting independents and Democrats.

To be clear, inclusion does not mean lack of principles. In 1975, after the post-Watergate Democratic landslide, Ronald Reagan encouraged conservatives to raise a "banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors." We once again need bold colors to reinvigorate our movement. Our solutions must be clear enough and bold enough to make it evident how different we are than the Left and to cut through the mainstream media's leftwing bias and trivial obsessions.

Source: Right Now, by M. Steele, Preface by Newt Gingrich, p.xiv , Jan 4, 2010

OpEd: Media judges even Reagan's great achievements poorly

Reporters will use their "judgment" to portray Ronald Reagan, who brought peace and prosperity and, incidentally, ended a half-century threat of nuclear annihilation by the Soviets, as having brought about a "mess in Central America, neglect of the poor, corruption in government...and the worst legacy of all, the budget deficit, the impoverishment of our children"--as US News & World Report editor Roger Rosenblatt put it. America's greatest president will be "judged" by expert Lesley Stahl to have presided over an era of the "largest deficits in history, largest debtor nation, can't afford to fix the housing emergency." Even Reagan's reduction of unemployment to its lowest level in a decade will be "judged" a failure because, as Connie Chung put it, "this low unemployment rate is not entirely good news. Fewer people are looking for work." And they called Reagan stupid.
Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.122 , Nov 10, 2009

OpEd: Reagan in 1980 was a movement, not just a candidate

Pres. Carter continues to believe that I weakened him for the general election and caused him to lose the presidency to Ronald Reagan. In fact, he makes a point of saying so frequently, especially when he speaks in Boston. But I'm not really sure he needed any help from me. Carter's approval rating was lower than Richard Nixon's after Watergate. The nation was suffering through an energy crisis and double-digit inflation. The American people were looking for new leadership. And Ronald Reagan was capturing the imagination of the American people with his sunny optimism.

What would have happened had I gained the nomination? Frankly, I don't know that I could have beaten Ronald Reagan. He was more than a candidate at that time; he was a movement.

After the election, I phoned President Carter on December 15, as his administration was nearing its end. He asked me if I was looking forward to the new administration. I answered, "Not one day sooner than they take office."

Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.381-382 , Sep 14, 2009

Nancy's book: You bet I gave Ronnie advice

From the start of his political life, Reagan was stage-managed by Nancy. "Did I ever give Ronnie advice? You bet I did," Nancy Reagan wrote in "My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan." "I'm the one who knows him best, and I was the only person in the White House who had absolutely no agenda of her own--except helping him."

"Mrs. Reagan was a precise and demanding woman," recalls the Reagan aide over administration of the White House. "Her sole interest was the advancement of her husband's agenda." It turned out that most of Nancy's advice was sound. As she explained it, "As much as I love Ronnie, I'll admit he does have at least one fault: He can be naive about the people around him. Ronnie only tends to think well of people. While that's a fine quality in a friend, it can get you into trouble in politics."

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler, p. 94 , Jun 29, 2009

Picked up Goldwater's mantle after 16 years

Looking back on Lyndon Johnson's thumping of Barry Goldwater in 1964 reminds us of how slow and arduous our climb for our conservative cause has been. The day after Goldwater lost forty-four states, James Reston, the New York Times columnist, wrote, "Barry Goldwater not only lost the presidential election yesterday but the conservative cause as well." It was sixteen years before Ronald Reagan picked up Goldwater's mantle and became president. Think of all it took to get there from our time in the wilderness--all those envelopes stuffed, phone calls made, dollars collected; all those late nights of cold pizzas and warm Cokes.
Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 8 , Nov 18, 2008

OpEd: Transformational president on non-government solutions

Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson transformed the national mood, then the direction of national policy. They did not do so by being "post-partisan," or centrist, but by taking huge political risks on behalf of principles that the people came to deeply respect.

To the list of transformative presidents we must add one conservative, Ronald Reagan. After the depressing years of the 1970s, people were ready for "morning in America." Reagan had the gift of leadership, and behind Reagan were armies of strategists able to turn a personal triumph into a systematic ideological reversal. Reagan succeeded in transforming public assumptions from the general premise that government should help to the idea that government was likely to make matters worse. Thanks to very effective Republican campaign machinery, ideological zeal, and party unity, that presumption held for another two decades--until it was ultimately discredited by events.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 3-4 , Aug 25, 2008

1950s: 375 speeches as GE employee education on free markets

I recommend "The Education of Ronald Reagan" as a study of the impact eight years at General Electric had on Ronald Reagan. While working with Lemuel Boulware, GE's vice president and labor strategist, Reagan delivered 375 speeches to GE employees. This was part of the most elaborate employee education program about free enterprise, markets, and productivity in that generation.

Boulware gave Reagan books by great free-market thinkers like Hayek & Friedman. Reagan spent hours reading them on the train, which is how he travelled in those days, and this prepared him to talk to blue collar workers about the American system.

Boulware believed every issue had an "M"--the point where the majority opinion on that topic was found. If you could "move the M," you moved the entire framework of the debate. Reagan did not argue within the framework of the leftwing elites. He "moved the M," changing the fundamental framework of the debate and requiring people to think about issues in a completely new way.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p. xviii-xx , Dec 18, 2007

1980: Insisted John Anderson be in presidential debate

In 1980, Reagan won in a landslide. Carter had recently refused to debate with third-party candidate John Anderson, whom Reagan has insisted be included. (And don't think it was a matter of principle, on either side; having handled presidential debate negotiations myself, I can tell you that it's all about partisan calculations--in this case, that Anderson was taking votes from Carter.) As a result, there was only one debate between the major-party nominees that year, & it was late in the campaign.

Until that point--people forget this today--the race was neck-and-neck. In one of the debates of the 1980 campaign, Reagan wasn't brilliant. But he was fine. He didn't fumble lines. But his most brilliant move was the way he dealt with Carter's attempt to attack him as a dangerous ideologue. When Carter suggested that Reagan had tried to discontinue Medicare, Reagan looked directly at the president, and laughed, "There you go again..." That was it. Carter looked like a fool.

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.239-240 , Oct 17, 2005

OpEd: Had a message, and delivered it masterfully

George Bush looked at politics through the narrow prism of his own privilege, and sometimes he could not see beyond his sense of entitlement. He was so blinkered he could not imagine that a Hollywood actor bankrolled by rich, rabid right-wingers could ever become President of the US. Since George did not comprehend that a President's most valuable asset is his ability to communicate, he missed the gigantic import of Ronald Reagan. Unlike Bush--who had insider connections, an outsize sense of his own political destiny, and a blind faith in his own sense of entitlement--Reagan had a message, and it was one he delivered masterfully. He also had a devoted following built up from his years on the road as a spokesman for General Electric.

George Bush, mumbling, when he was asked why he should be elected to the highest office in the land, said, "It's not a job. It's a challenge. And I am idealistic. I'm driven to contribute something."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.364-365 , Sep 14, 2004

1981 assassin Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity

The Reagan presidency nearly ended on March 30, 1981, when a deranged gunman shot the President. The assailant, John Hinckley, who was later found not guilty by reason of insanity, said he hoped to kill the President to impress the actress Jodie Foster. He said he had become obsessed with her after seeing "Taxi Driver." His brainsick violence almost took the President's life, wounded a Secret Service man, and severely wounded a DC policeman, who had to be retired on disability. The ricocheting bullets also maimed the White House press secretary James Brady.

In the White House situation room, George Bush, who had been told Reagan would recover, left the President's chair empty and sat in his own seat. "The President is still the President," he said. His graceful comportment contrasted sharply with that of the Secretary of State, who had raised hackles earlier in the day by dashing to the lectern in the White House pressroom and declaring himself in charge.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.383-384 , Sep 14, 2004

Hid seriousness of 1981 assassination attempt

On March 29, 1991 Ronald Reagan had come to Washington to accept an honorary degree from George Washington University. The Doctorate of Public Service was presented to him on the 10th anniversary of the assassination attempt that almost took his life. He had returned to the nation's capital as much to be honored as to honor the medical team that had saved him. At the time of the shooting only his wife and his doctors knew how close to death he had come. "It was kind of an unspoken agreement that none of us would let the public know how serious it was, how close we came to losing him," said Nancy Reagan.

Reagan accepted his honorary degree, [and endorsed the Brady Bill], named in honor of his press secretary James Brady, who was forever disabled by the handgun aimed at the President and his party in 1981.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.502 , Sep 14, 2004

1980 Reagan Revolution included defeat of liberal Senators

The election of Ronald Reagan and the defeat of a clutch of very liberal Democratic senators in 1980 seemed to many of us a decisive turn for the better in our culture. The "Reagan Revolution" was to be a sharp break with liberal trends. Liberals thought otherwise. If their response to the 1980 elections is any guide, in reaction to future conservative victories at the polls, modern liberals will only become more intolerant, untruthful, venomous, and abusive. The cultural phase of the revolution petered out; Reagan lost the Senate in 1986 and was followed by Bush and Clinton. Today, more is wrong with our culture than was the case in 1980. If the conservative political revival persists and gathers strength, we may see a long period of an antagonistic standoff between the political nation and its culture, on the one hand, and the culture of the elites, on the other.
Source: Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork, p.339 , Dec 16, 2003

Reaganism echoed in U.K. by Thatcherism

Tony Blair was trying to devise alternatives to traditional liberal rhetoric, in the hope of finding ways to advance economic growth, individual empowerment and social justice. Tony Blair & Bill Clinton clearly shared a political vision. But the question confronting each of them was how to invigorate a progressive movement that had lost steam through much of the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to Reaganism in the US and Thatcherism in Britain.

The Republican Party in the US had been masterful at creating a groundswell for conservative ideas after Senator Barry Goldwater's resounding defeat by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 Presidential election. Shocked by the margin of their party's losses, several Republican multimillionaires embarked on a strategy to seed conservative, even right-wing political philosophy, and to develop and advance specific policies to further it. They funded think tanks, endowed professorships and seminars and developed media channels for communicating ideas and opinions.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 423 , Nov 1, 2003

Child of alcoholic father, but mother was open about it

Reagan was also an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). Reagan wrote about his father, "He was a man who might have made a brilliant career out of selling, but he lived in a time--and with a weakness [alcoholism]--that made him a frustrated man." Reagan's presidential biographer provided information that might help explain why Reagan's character flaws were not as pronounced as Clinton's are. Reagan's mother was said to have taken "great care that her children realized that their father's alcoholism was a disease, for which they should not resent him."

It is important to stress that a significant difference exists between Reagan & Clinton. Reagan did not repeatedly demonstrate the effects of his background as an ACOA. Clinton, on the other hand, did.

One can draw an interesting parallel between Reagan and Clinton. Reagan's mother dealt directly with his father's alcoholism. In the case of Clinton, denial of the problem and of anything unpleasant was the means by which the alcoholism was avoided.

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. 34-37&109 , Jun 1, 2000

Kept perfect White House diary, but revealed little of self

Reagan is a man of benign remoteness and no psychological curiosity, either about himself or others. He considers his life to have been unremarkable. He gives nothing of himself to intimates, believing that he has no self to give. In the White House, he wrote hundreds of personal letters & obediently kept an 8-year diary, but the handwritten sentences, while graceful, are about as revelatory of the man behind them as the calligraphy of a copyist.

One might compare my task to that of a film editor who has to integrate a few hundred close-focus frames with 20,000 feet of gauzy long shots. But biography is sometimes freer than film to rise to such challenges.

Any quest for the real Dutch is bound to be an exercise in frustration. Hence the dullness of many of the books that have been written about him, their inability to capture his magic. Since Reagan has primarily been a phenomenon of the American imagination, he can only be re-created by an extension of biographical technique.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p. vi-vii , Sep 30, 1999

Author Morris is character “Dutch” in Reagan’s bio

The New York Times managed to glimpse enough of the text to print the following, headlined Writer as Character in Reagan Biography:

“Dutch is days away from publication. but in the meantime, its publisher, Random House, is guarding copies zealously, party for fear of a controversy about Mr. Morris’s writing style, which employs an unconventional technique that disturbs historians and former Reagan officials who have heard about it.

Simply put, Mr. Morris has invented a character: himself. For literary purposes, the author, 59, has essentially transformed his own life. revised his age, birthplace, identity and resume to become a Zeligesque narrator who is a Reagan contemporary.“

NY Times review, ”Is Dutch flawed by Mr. Morris’s technique? To judge from the book’s extensive notes, it in no way distorts the record of Mr. Reagan’s life, only the viewpoint from which it is told.“

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p. viii-x , Sep 18, 1999

Seems to lack recognition; but sees people deeply

Four years later Reagan returned to the White House, at the reluctant invitation of President Bush, to receive the Medal of Freedom before Clinton took office.

Dutch, 81 years old, stepped to the podium to give a short speech of thanks. “God bless, the United States of America.” He said it so reverently that I wondered if love for country was not Reagan’s one and only passion.

Afterward, in the receiving line, he took my hand and nodded with patent lack of recognition. Yet the following afternoon, his retirement chief of staff called to say that Reagan had remarked, “I saw Edmund in the reception line. I think he is waiting for me to die before he publishes his book.”

Even in his dotage, he had seen something in my gaze that I did not want to acknowledge.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.655-656 , Jan 11, 1992

OpEd: hands-off management has inevitable disasters

This was the way Ronald Reagan did business--his public persona WAS his real persona. For a while I struggled against a certain anxiety that this method of running the world's greatest economy might wreck the new Presidency. Happily, I was wrong. In fact Reagan's openness produced the longest period of economic recovery and the highest levels of employment in the history of the US. The President himself had very little to do with the invention and the implementation of the policies and mechanisms that encouraged this remarkable increase in the nation's wealth and general well-being.

At first it was difficult to believe that such a management policy could be intentional. Mixed results were inevitable; disaster was possible--even probable. I found myself in an environment in which there seemed to be no center, no structure, no agreed policy. I struggled to understand a reality that was far removed from what I had always imagined life in a high government post to be.

Source: For the Record, by Donald Regan, p.143-144 , May 2, 1988

Scale of re-election victory meant mandate on policies

In Reagan's [re-election], the people had given him an authorization to go on running the government and leading the country for four more years in the same style as the first four years. Second, they had given him a clear instruction, underwritten by 54,455,075 popular votes and 525 of 538 electoral votes, to carry out the programs he had advocated during the campaign. In foreign affairs, this meant advocating based on a strong defense, and in domestic affairs, tax reforms and budget reform.
Source: For the Record, by Donald Regan, p.242 , May 2, 1988

Trusted his aides to act on his intentions, not his orders

Reagan chose his aides and then followed their advice almost without question. He trusted his lieutenants to act on his intentions, rather than on his spoken instructions; he seldom spontaneously called for a detailed status report. The degree of trust involved in this method of leadership must be unprecedented in modern American history. Sometimes--as was inevitable given that many of his closest aides, including almost all of the Cabinet, were virtual strangers to him--this trust was betrayed in shocking fashion. When that happened, Reagan seldom criticized, seldom complained, never scolded. Not even the Iran-Contra debacle could provoke him into harsh words, much less subordinates who had let him down.

Never did President Reagan really lose his temper or utter a rude of unkind word. Never did he issue a direct order, although I, at least, sometimes devoutly wished that he would. He listened, acquiesced, played his role, and waited for the next act to be written.

Source: For the Record, by Donald Regan, p.268 , May 2, 1988

Survives getting shot; an “excellent physical specimen”

Reagan left the Washington Hilton at 2:25 PM on March 30, The usual motorcade awaited in the hotel’s curveway, not more than 13 feet ahead, engines humming. Suddenly, six bullets fired in less than two seconds hit four people. Jerry Parr, White House security chief, shoved Reagan into the open door of the limousine as the bullets zinged around the metal and bulletproof glass.

They reached George Washington University Hospital in three-and-a-half minutes. Reagan made himself get out and walk toward the emergency-room door. Just inside, out of public sight, his knees buckled.

[He was wheeled into surgery] with his wit intact: “Honey, I forgot to duck,” “Who’s minding the store?” and-to the solemn company costumed in surgical greens-“Please tell me you’re Republicans.”

The President’s chest was closed at 5:24 PM. He had “sailed through” surgery, the hospital announced, and was an “excellent physical specimen.” On April 11, the President was well enough to walk out of the hospital.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p. 428-32 , Mar 30, 1981


Ronald Reagan on Political Philosophy

If not us, who? And if not now, when?

On February 19, 2009 we heard the words that would change our lives forever. This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgages [when they have] an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?

The speaker on the radio was CNBC reporter Rick Santelli, on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in his now-famous rant that sparked the modern Tea Party movement. The next day I started organizing.

I had never organized a protest before. I had never even been to a protest. But I had been active online. And I did understand politics. Most important, I knew that the time had come to do something to save the country. I was reminded, deep inside, of something that Ronald Reagan said in his 2nd inaugural address: "If not us, who? And if not now, when?" As I looked at my young children, I could not shake the thought that this was my personal responsibility as a citizen and as a mother.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 3 , Feb 14, 2012

Eleventh Commandment: Don't speak ill of political allies

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan achieved his landslide electoral victories by building a "3-legged stool" coalition that was composed of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and defense hawks. Part of Reagan's success came from his ability to unite both the country and the Republican Party, the former with his cheerful optimism and vision of American exceptionalism, the latter through preaching the "11th Commandment," a hard-and-fast rule that one should never speak ill of one's philosophical allies.
Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 64 , Feb 14, 2012

Conservatism of bright colors, not pale pastels

In 1980, I became a Republican and never looked back. [After voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976], I realized I wasn't in line with the new anti-family, anti-strong defense, anti-fiscal sanity Democratic Party. I was now a Republican.

As Ronald Reagan always liked to say, he didn't leave the Democratic Party--the Democratic Party left him. Now I too knew the feeling.

Indeed, during the late seventies, Marcus and I grew increasingly attracted to Reagan and his conservative philosophy. We loved it when he said that Americans wanted a conservatism of bright colors, not pale pastels--we sure did. That is, we wanted someone who would unabashedly take the fight directly to the economic declinists, the foreign policy defeatists, and the anti-family relativists who seemed at the time to dominate both parties. Republicans of the "me-too" persuasion held no appeal to us. We wanted a GOP that would fight to make real change. So we liked Reagan.

Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p. 73 , Nov 21, 2011

Tea Party too extreme for Reagan? No, he did radical things

Media pundits like to ask whether there would be a place for Reagan in the "extreme" Tea Party, bashing the supposedly "radical" movement for wanting to do things like abolish the Dept. of Education--forgetting that Reagan also wanted to abolish it. The media attacks Tea Party candidates as belonging to an impractical "party of no," forgetting that Reagan also saw the state, unequivocally, in negative terms, declaring that "Government is not a solution to our problems, government is the problem."
Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 30 , Feb 22, 2011

Common sense conservatism is antithesis to fanaticism

The first step to transcending great challenges is to rid ourselves of ideology. As was his wont, Ronald Reagan hit the nail on the head: Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanaticism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way-this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from a willingness to learn --not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before. Ideologues fit the world to their minds; conservatives fit their minds to the world. Ideologues believe politics is only a part of life. Ideologues believe they possess an abstract, absolute truth that can compel an imperfect humanity to attain a terrestrial paradise; conservatives believe in self-- evident truths and traditional rights and duties.
Source: Seize Freedom, by Rep. Thad McCotter, p. 21 , Feb 8, 2011

We have to fight for freedom and protect it

In the VP debate, I closed with a quote from Reagan, who once said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction: "We don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America back in the day when men and women were free." That's what I wanted Americans to remember.
Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p.297 , Nov 17, 2009

Pick your core agenda issues and focus on those

In 2006, it was a humbling experience to step in to lead an administration that would serve a state of this size and diversity. But I knew we could face the challenge with anticipation and without a sense of overload if we observed Ronald Reagan's principles" pick your core agenda issues and focus on those; empower and motivate your departments and staff to implement your vision in other areas. Reagan concentrated on a few key issues and knocked them out of the park. That gave him the political capital to effect change in many other policy areas. I knew if I kept my campaign promise of overhauling the state in the areas of resource development, fiscal restraint, and ethical government, I would also be able to turn special needs and the elderly, job training, unemployment, and social ills in rural Alaska.
Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p.124 , Nov 17, 2009

Preserve the last best hope of man on earth

"Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. ... 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'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness" --President Ronald Reagan
Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 12 , Jul 4, 2009

Private values must be at the heart of public policies

"Private values," said President Reagan in his 1986 state-of-the-union message, "must be at the heart of public policies." Americans have always valued faith, character, hard work, personal responsibility, self-reliance, discipline, competition, charity, fairness, and achievement. Values originate from what people believe, especially what they believe about God.

Reagan won the hearts and votes of the American people by shifting the debate from a myriad of confusing political issues to values Americans recognized immediately as their own. By reminding Americans of our goodness and strengths, Reagan held up a mirror and helped us see ourselves at our very best. Reagan made us believe we could get across any river on our own. Reagan convinced Americans that freedom would work for everyone and that the big-government welfare state was just a fox clothed in deceptive political promises.

Unfortunately the cause of freedom has had too few articulate champions since Ronald Reagan.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 3 , Jul 4, 2009

Replace left-right with up (freedom)& down (totalitarianism)

Americans who have become increasingly dependent on the federal government must now make a difficult choice. Reagan said we must decide "whether we believe in our capacity for self-government of 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 ourselves. You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to man's dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ash heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."

Reagan knew every generation of Americans must make a choice between freedom and socialism. Today that choice confronts Americans more urgently than ever before.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 7-8 , Jul 4, 2009

Most concerned for special interest group, "We the People"

[Reagan's 1981 Inaugural Speech]: We hear much of special interest groups. Well, 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 factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we're sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, and truck drivers. They are, in short, "We the People." This breed called Americans. The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems that now confront us. And after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.
Source: They Think You're Stupid, by Herman Cain, p.155-156 , Jun 14, 2005

Built morale so people believed things could be accomplished

Institutions with high esprit de corps, and high morale, can be enormously productive; but if the leader is not careful, there are pitfalls. Morale is not an end in itself; it is designed to create better performance. It cannot be an after-thought--it ha to be central to everything you do as a leader.

When Carter was president, the prevailing mood was malaise. Nobody could run the country, you just did the best you could not to make it worse. When Reagan became president, all of a sudden people started to believe things could be accomplished. The Soviet Union could be stared down and spoken about in plain language, unions could be forced to behave responsibly, taxes could be reduced in the hope that individuals would make smarter decisions for their dollars than the federal government. The feeling was that the president was very much in charge. Reagan understood that much of that was optimism. It did not mean that leaders ran around cheerful all the time, but that they found ways to build morale.

Source: Leadership, autobiography by Rudolph Giuliani, p.120-121 , Oct 1, 2002

The Teflon President: unburdened & un-blamed

Reagan was, it was said, Teflon-coated. Nothing stuck to him: not revelations of wrongdoing by aides, not occasional failures in foreign policy, not evidence that astrology may have influenced some of his decisions. Approaching his 78th birthday as his presidency drew to a close, Reagan was seen by many as the personification of Uncle Sam or as the grandfather of the nation. A scholar had called the presidency an “awesome burden,” but Reagan neared the end of his 2nd term as a remarkably untroubled man
Source: Grolier Encyclopedia on-line, “The Presidency” , Dec 25, 2000

Cared more about policies than being “Great Communicator”

It was policies that mattered to Reagan. He was not over-impressed by his reputation as the “Great Communicator,” which he realized was often used to suggest that Americans liked the way he said things but disagreed with what he was saying. Reagan knew better. “I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content,” Reagan said in his farewell address. “I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation-from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscover of our values and our common sense.“
Source: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon, p. 836 , Jul 2, 1991

Great Communicator? I just spoke common sense

I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things; & they didn't spring full blown from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation--from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So, we cut the people's tax rates, and the people produced more. Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace, we'd have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So, we rebuilt our defenses.

As long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours.

Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p. 70 , Jan 11, 1989

Shining City on a Hill: she still stands strong and true

The phrase "shining city upon a hill" comes from John Winthrop, an early Pilgrim who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. I've spoken of the shining city all of my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. 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 & peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce & creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, 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? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than 8 years ago. And after 200 years, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge; her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p. 72 , Jan 11, 1989

The Shining City is freer, and is left in good hands

My fellow Americans, this is the 34th time I’ll speak to you from the Oval Office, and the last. We have been together 8 years now, and soon it will be time for me to go.

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.

My friends, we did it. we made the City freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all not bad, not bad at all. And so, goodbye. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.“

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.649 , Jan 11, 1988

What you see is what you get with Reagan, and nothing more

For seven months I had been interviewing him, following him halfway around the world, lunching with his wife, sitting in on senior meetings. Dutch remained a mystery to me, and worse still, dare I entertain such heresy, an apparent airhead.

“What you see is what you get,” several of his intimates had warned me, when I asked about his hidden depths. Nevertheless, I could not believe how little one got and how shallow those depths appeared to be. At 75, he was taciturn much of the time, conducting meetings with only the barest of introductory remarks, which he would read from typed cards. When he was asked direct questions, he would refer again to his cards, and if there was nothing there to help him, he would smile, shrug, and let Shultz or Regan answer.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.579 , Jul 4, 1986

Re-election: Morning in America; ship of state realigned

Reagan presented himself in [re-election] campaign commercials, as a sort of sun, glowing with good news and good intentions, banishing memories of the recession. In the cloying slogan of his video scriptwriters, it was “Morning Again in America.” One could use phrases like “love of country” and “right to life” without embarrassment any more.

Poor decent, dull Walter Mondale realized Reagan [was unbeatable] when he debated him, and was famously rolled for trying to raise the age issue. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,“ Reagan promised. Even Mondale had to laugh.

Americans favored Reagan because for four years he’d kept, or fought to keep, all his campaign promises. He had cut taxes, harnessed government, revived the economy, freed the entrepreneur, and cursed the ungodly. The ship of state was realigned, empowered, larger, prouder-and for those reasons less considerate of people who sailed steerage, or of powers that got in its way.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p. 505-6 , Oct 21, 1984

Political spectrum: up is freedom; down is statism

On the night of the Fourth of July, we thought of Reagan’s ingenious suggestion that the old political dynamic of Left v. Right should be refigured:
Isn’t our choice really one of up or down? Down through statism, the welfare state, more and more government largesse, accompanied always by more government authority, less individual liberty and ultimately totalitarianism, always advanced as for our own good. The alternative is the dream conceived by our Founding Fathers, up to the ultimate in individual freedom, consistent with an orderly society.

We don’t celebrate Dependence Day on the Fourth of July. We celebrate Independence Day.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.506 , Jul 4, 1984


Ronald Reagan on Religion

Civilized ideas are rooted in the belief in a Supreme Being

Reagan stressed the primacy of the spiritual struggle against Communism. In 1981, Reagan issued this rallying cry: "For the West, for America, the time has come to dare to show to the world that our civilized ideas, our traditions, our values, are not-- like the ideology and war machine of totalitarian societies-- just a facade of strength. It is time for the world to know our intellectual and spiritual values are rooted in the source of all strength, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own."

Similarly, in his "Evil Empire" speech in 1983, Reagan declared, "The source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man." When human freedom and dignity were under assault during the Cold War, Reagan knew that the spiritual nature of man and the freedom to know God where central to defining humanity and decisive in defeating tyranny.

Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p. 85 , Jun 13, 2011

1980s: Soviet leaders openly repudiate religion

Reagan's famous "evil empire" speech was devoted mostly to exploring faith. The way the USA and USSR treated faith, he said, had direct consequences for how they treated their people. Where there was God, there was freedom. Where He was not recognized, there was tyranny:

"Soviet leaders have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is that which will further their cause, which is world revolution. Lenin, their guiding spirit, said in 1920 that they repudiate all morality tha proceeds from supernatural ideas--that's their name for religion--or ideas that are outside class conceptions...They must be made to understand we will never abandon our belief in God. Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in totalitarian darkness--pray they will discover the joy of knowing God."

What drove his critics crazy wasn't that Reagan pointed out the godlessness of the Soviet system, but that he pointed out the presence of God in ours.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p.212-214 , Nov 23, 2010

"City on a Hill" cites Jesus' Sermon on the Mount

Back to 1630, when John Winthrop and his fellow immigrants to the New World were still aboard their ship, about to set foot on the Massachusetts Bay Colony, not even sure they could survive in the harsh New World. But Winthrop offered worthy, and memorable, wisdom and encouragement.

In that speech Winthrop predicted that the new land would become a "city upon a Hill." Those words, of course, appear in the Book of Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus called upon his flock to be "the light of the world," a shining example.

More than three centuries later, those words would also inspire Ronald Reagan--he believed that America must always be that City on a Hill. In 1974, at the first Conservative Political Action Conference, held, interestingly enough, in Washington, D.C., the Gipper declared that American was "the last best hope of man on earth." He sure was right!

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 81 , Nov 18, 2008

1979: Endorsed faith voters & activated movement

I knew about the beginning of what came to be known as the "Christian right." In April 1979, a small circle of conservative evangelical leaders would meet with Ronald Reagan and find him a man of principle and a patriot. Many people, even some who later saw themselves as "leaders" of the movement, were unaware of the seminal impact of that event on what was to become an army of citizens that was instrumental in motivating an entirely new constituency to support and help elect Ronald Reagan as the 40th president.

I remember when Ronald Reagan embraced these spiritual leaders well known within the community of faith but largely unknown by the general public and told them, "I'm not here for you to endorse me; I'm here to endorse YOU." In the elections since 1980, when this constituency was energized and turned loose, they made the difference in elections. When they were discouraged or driven to the sidelines, elections were lost.

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 52-53 , Nov 18, 2008

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant

Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."

I read the Bible. I travel with one, in fact, and there's never a time that I don't have a page or a passage bookmarked or flagged for my ready reference. Why? Because the Bible always has something new to teach me, some new way to look at the world. It's accessible, and at the same time it's beyond knowing, and I can't for the life of me figure how anyone gets along without it.

Source: Stand For Something, by John Kasich, p.151 , May 10, 2006

Not first religious president but first hero to evangelicals

Jimmy Carter claimed to be born-again and even taught Sunday School during his White House years, yet he seemed to erect a wall of separation between faith and practice when it came to being president. Ronald Reagan claimed a vital Christian faith and sense of mission, though he rarely went to church and his wife's dabbling in astrology made skeptics of many.

[The evangelical community] wanted their president to be a godly man. Jimmy Carter had talked about being born again but had disappointed most evangelicals. Though Carter at least made faith in office fashionable, Ronald Reagan was their true hero. He talked about divine destiny, the rights of the unborn, and the influence of the Bible on his life. But despite his eight years in office, th Reagan administration had not made much progress on the issues religious conservatives cared about. They wanted a man who would use the presidency as a bully pulpit, face down the liberals, and make the country safe for faith once again.

Source: The Faith of George W. Bush, by S.Mansfield, p. xviii&82-83 , Apr 12, 2004

Jesus is more real to me than my mother

Evangelist James Robison recalled a conversation he had with Ronald Reagan after a time of prayer: "Governor, is Jesus real to you?" With the bobbing of the head and the opening word that became so familiar, Reagan said, "Well, my father was an alcoholic. My mother was the greatest influence in my life. And Jesus is more real to me than my mother." Robison believed when the left Reagan's presence that he had just spoken to the future president of the US, a man who would preserve freedom.
Source: The Faith of George W. Bush, by Stephen Mansfield, p.110 , Apr 12, 2004

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Principles & Values.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Ronald Reagan.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Ronald Reagan.
Other past presidents on Principles & Values: Ronald Reagan on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

Political Parties:
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Reform Party
Natural Law Party
Tea Party
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty

Page last updated: Jul 05, 2014