Our Noble Vision: An Opportunity For All

Remarks before the 11th annual CPAC Convation on March 2nd, 1984


Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, members of the Cabinet, and distinguished ladies and gentlemen. I just want to say thank you to Mickey Edwards—I’m honored to stand beside this fine Congressman from Oklahoma and ACU’s great leader.

Seeing the size of your gathering here this evening, the exciting program that you’ve planned, and the media attention you’re drawing, and seeing and feeling the drive, energy, and intellectual force that’s coming to our cause from the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, Human Events, and National Review, I believe the proof is undeniable: The conservative movement is alive and well, and you are giving America a new lease on life.

It is true that many of you are helping now in our Administration. And we’re going to add one more in the next few days, because coming to the West Wing, there on our staff, will be the man that organized the first four of these dinners—Frank Donatelli .
We’ve been together through many struggles. We’ve known the agony of defeat. And recently, we’ve seen public support begin to swell behind our banner. What we worked so long and hard to win was good, but hardly good enough. So, in expressing my pride and affection for this good family, for our family, may I say not only Happy Anniversary, ACU, but also, long live the revolution.

The mission of this conference is a mission of principle: It is a mission of commitment, and it must and will be a mission of victory. Color our cause with courage and confidence. We offer an optimistic society. More than 200 years after the patriots fired that first shot heard ’round the world, one revolutionary idea still burns in the hearts of men and women everywhere: A society where man is not beholden to government; government is beholden to man.

The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America.

In Year of Decision, 1846, Bernard DeVoto explained what drove our ancestors to conquer the West, create a nation, and open up a continent. If you take away the dream, you take away the power of the spirit. If you take away the belief in a greater future, you cannot explain America-that we’re a people who believed there was a promised land; we were a people who believed we were chosen by God to create a greater world.

Well, I think we’re remembering those bedrock beliefs which motivate our progress. A spirit of renewal is spreading across this land. We even have a pro-conservative newspaper in the Nation’s Capital [the Washington Times]. And, if I may just interject, I understand that [Times Editor and Publisher] Jim Whalen will be honored by your group tomorrow night, and that’s wonderful news and well deserved.

I think America is better off than we were three years ago because we’ve stopped placing our faith in more government programs. We’re restoring our faith in the greatest resource this nation has-the mighty spirit of free people under God. It was you who reminded Washington that we are a government of, by, and for the people, not the other way around. It was you who said it is time to put earnings back in the hands of the people, time to put trust back in the hands of the people, time to put America back in the hands of the people.

And this is what we’re trying to do. Our critics are not pleased, but I hope we’ll be forgiven this small observation: The spendthrifts who mangled America with the nightmare of double-digit inflation, record interest rates, unfair tax increases, too much regulation, credit controls, farm embargoes, gas lines, no-growth at home, weakness abroad, and phony excuses about “malaise” are the last people who should be giving sermonettes about fairness and compassion.

Their failures were not caused by erratic weather patterns, unusual rotations of the moon, or by the personality of my predecessor. They were caused by misguided policies and misunderstanding human nature. Believe me, you cannot create a desert, hand a person a cup of water, and call that compassion. You cannot pour billions of dollars into make-work jobs while destroying the economy that supports them and call that opportunity. And you cannot build up years of dependence on government and dare call that hope.

But apparently nothing bothers our liberal friends. The same expertise that told them their policies must succeed convinced them that our program spelled economic Armageddon. first they blamed the recession on our tax cuts. The trouble is, our tax cuts hadn’t started yet. They also warned that when our tax program passed, America would face runaway inflation, record interest rates, and a collapse of confidence. Well, at least they got part of it right. Our program passed, and we witnessed a collapse all right. A collapse of inflation from 12.4 down to about 4 percent; a collapse of the prime interest rate from over 21 percent to 11; and a new surge of confidence in stocks and bonds.

They warned that decontrolling the price of oil would send the cost of gas at the pumps skyrocketing. We decontrolled, and the price is lower today than it was three years ago when we decontrolled .

And then they said that recovery couldn’t come, or would be too feeble to notice. Well, from strong growth in housing to autos, construction, and high technology, from a rebirth of productivity to the fastest drop in unemployment in over 30 years, we have one of the strongest recoveries in decades. And we’ll keep it strong if they’ll get out of the way.

Pardon me if I add something here . You know, I did get a kick out of watching on TV the door-to-door campaigning in New Hampshire. I got to see some of the homes the people have been able to buy since we brought interest rates down. Incidentally, I’m sure all of you have read or seen on the air that in the month of January our sale of new houses dropped, and dropped to a great percent-about a 9 percent drop below what it was the previous month. Only 688,000 new homes were sold in January. But they didn’t add that that drop was only from the sales in December, and beyond that it was the highest number that had been sold since 1979 in a single month.

But our critics moan the recovery can’t last. Those awful tax cuts haven’t sparked business investment; private borrowers are being crowded out of the capital markets. Well, if that’s true, how did the venture capital industry raise four times as much capital in 1983 as it did in 1980? How could real, fixed business investment increase by a 1 3-percent rate last year, the fastest rate in any recovery in the past 30 years? And how could funds raised in the equity markets zoom from $16.8 billion in 1983—or in 1982, to $36.6 billion in 1983? Still another record.

Now, all this means more growth, more jobs, more opportunities, and a more competitive America. Now, lately, the pessimists have been sounding a new alarm: the dollar is so strong, they say, that exporters can’t export, and we’ll have no chance for lasting growth.

Well, the facts are-as Secretary [of the Treasury] Don Regan has pointed out-the dollar is strong because of people’s confidence in our currency, our low rate of inflation, and the incentives to invest in the United States. No American should undermine confidence in the nation’s currency. A strong dollar is one of our greatest weapons against inflation. Anyone who doubts the value of a strong currency should look at the postwar performances of Japan, Switzerland, and West Germany.
Yes, we have a trade deficit, but this isn’t entirely new. The United States had a merchandise trade deficit in almost all of the yearsbetween 179Oand 1875. Irememberthemwell. ‘Course, I was only a boy at the time.

But that was when our economy grew into one of the largest and strongest in the world. Rising incomes have given us the ability to increase purchases from abroad. The U.S. economy is serving as an engine for worldwide recovery, and this will translate into greater demands for our own goods. But even with our current trade deficits, exports of goods and services have made a greater contribution to this recovery than to any previous recovery in the postwar period.

The critics were wrong on inflation, wrong on interest rates, wrong on the recovery, and I believe they’ll be wrong on the deficit, too, if the Congress will get spending under control. If optimism were a national disease, they’d be immune for life. Isn’t it time that we said no to those who keep saying no to America? If the sourpuss set cannot believe in our nation and her people, then let them stand aside and we will get the job done.

In fairness, I’ll admit our critics are worried sick about the future of the economy. They’re worried it might keep getting better and better.

Now, those who deal in a world of numbers cannot predict the progress of the human mind, the drive and energy of the spirit, or the power of incentives. We’re beginning an industrial renaissance which most experts never saw coming. It started with the 1978 capital gains tax reduction-passed over the objections of the last administration-and which was then made greater by our own tax reductions in 1981.

Incentives laid the seeds for the great growth in venture capital which helped set off the revolution in high technology. Sunrise industries, such as computers, micro-electronics, robotics, and fiber optics-all are creating a new world of opportunities. And as our knowledge expands, business investment is stimulated to modernize older industries with the newer technologies.

Dr. Robert Jastrow, chairman of the first NASA lunar exploration committee, believes the potential in our high-tech industries for new jobs and economic growth is mind-boggling. A year ago, he predicted the computer industry would double in size by 1986, becoming America’s biggest business. And now we’re seeing the knowledge and benefits of high technology being put to use in medicine, bringing new hope to millions who suffer handicaps and disabilities.

Visionaries see infinite possibilities for new economic growth in America’s next frontier-space. Our challenge of building a permanently manned space station, and of further exploration, can open up entire new industries. Products from metal alloys to lifesaving medicines-these can immensely improve our environment and life on Earth.

All our space-related activities must begin with the transportation to get there. This is an area of American technological leadership, and I intend to make sure we keep that edge. That’s why I’ve asked Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole to start immediately promoting private sector investment in commercial, unmanned space boosters-the powerful rockets that carry satellites into orbit. With these boosters, and a thriving commercial launch industry, American private enterprise will be blasting off toward new horizons of hope, adventure, and progress—a future that will dazzle our imaginations and lift our spirits .
An opportunity society awaits us. We need only believe in ourselves and give men and women of faith, courage, and vision the freedom to build it. Let others run down America and seek to punish success. Let them call you greedy for not wanting government to take more and more of your earnings. Let them defend their tombstone society of wage and price guidelines, mandatory quotas, tax increases, planned shortages, and shared sacrifices.

We want no part of that mess, thank you very much. We will encourage all Americans-men and women, young and old, individuals of every race, creed, and color-to succeed and be healthy, happy, and whole. This is our goal. We see America not falling behind, but moving ahead; our citizens not fearful and divided, but confident and united by shared values of faith, family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom.

An opportunity society begins with growth, and that means incentives. As I told the people of Iowa last week, my sympathies are with the taxpayers, not the tax-spenders. I consider stopping them from taking more of your earnings an economic responsibility and a moral obligation. I will not permit an antigrowth coalition to jeopardize this recovery. If they get theil way, they’ll charge everything on your “Taxpayers Express Card.” And believe me, they never leave home without it.

As good conservatives, we were brought up to oppose deficits . But sometimes I think some have forgotten why. We were against deficit spending. Those who would be heroes trying to reduce deficits by raising taxes are not heroes. They have not addressed the point I made in the State of the Union: whether government borrows or increases taxes, it will be taking the same amount of money from the private economy and, either way, that’s too much.

We must bring down government spending to a level where it cannot interfere with the ability of the economy to grow. The Congress must stop fiddling and pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. With strong support from many of you here, we nearly scored a great victory in 1982. It’s time to try again. We also seek a line-item veto to prevent pork barrel projects from passing just because they’re attached to otherwise good legislation. I’m sure we’re united by one goal. The Grace commission identified billions of dollars in wasteful government spending. And I believe the Congress has a responsibility to work with us and eliminate that waste wherever it exlsts .

Combining these spending restraints with another key reform will make America’s economy the undisputed leader for innovation, growth, and opportunity. I’m talking about simplification of the entire tax system. We can make taxes more fair, easier to understand and, more important, we can greatly increase incentives by bringing personal tax rates down . If we can reduce personal tax rates as dramatically as we’ve reduced capital gains taxes, the underground economy will shrink, the whole world will beat a path to our door, and no one will hold America back. This is the real blueprint for a brighter future and declining deficits .

But economic opportunities can only flourish if the values at the foundation of our society and freedom remain strong and secure. Our families and friends must be able to live and work without always being afraid. Americans are sick and tired of law-abiding people getting mugged, robbed, and raped, while dangerous criminals get off scot-free.

We have a comprehensive crime bill to correct this. It would put an end to the era of coddling criminals, and it ‘s been passed by the Senate. But the legislation is bottled up in the House. Now, maybe it’s time they heard from a few of you-a few million of you. You know, you don’t have to make them see the light; just make them feel the heat. I hope you realize that in my comments about some of the shortcomings of the Congress, believe me, tonight present company is excepted.

Strengthening values also demands a national commitment to excellence in education. If we are to pioneer a revolution in technology, meet challenges of the space age, and preserve values of courage, responsibility, integrity, and love, then we can’t afford a generation of children hooked on cocaine and unable to read or write. Conservatives have pointed out for years that while federal spending on education was soaring, aptitude scores were going steadily down. Look at the case of New Hampshire. It ranks dead last in state spending on education, but its students have the highest SAT scores among those states where at least half the students take the test. And they’ve maintained that honor for more than 10 years. America’s schools don’t need new spending programs; they need tougher standards, more homework, merit pay for teachers, discipline, and parents back in charge.

Now there’s another important reform to be voted on soon in the Senate…. Let us come together, citizens of all faiths, to pray, march, and mobilize every force we have so the God who loves us can be welcomed back into our children’s classrooms. I’m gratified that Congressman Newt Gingrich [R.-Ga.] is organizing a rally on the Capitol steps in support of our prayer in school amendment. Please be there if you can, and please send the message loud and clear that God never should have been expelled from America’s schools in the first place. And maybe if we can get God and discipline back in our schools, we can get drugs and violence out.

Now, let me make it plain that we seek voluntary school prayer, not a moment of silence. We already have the right to remain silent; we can take the 5th Amendment.
But as we go on, we must redouble our efforts to redress a national tragedy. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, 15 million unborn children have been lost-15 million children who will never laugh, never sing, never know the joy of human love, will never strive to heal the sick or feed the poor or make peace among nations. They’ve been denied the most basic of human rights, and we’re all the poorer for their loss.

Not long ago I received a letter from a young woman named Kim. She was born with the birth defect, spina bifida, and given little chance to live. But her parents were willing to try a difficult and risky operation on her spine. It worked. And Kim wrote me: “I am now 24 years old. I do have some medical problems due to my birth defect. I have a lot of problems with my legs . But I’m walking. I can talk. I went to grade and high school, plus one year of college. I thank God every day for my parents and my life.”

And Kim said, “I wouldn’t change it if I could.”

Life was her greatest opportunity, and she’s made the most of it. An opportunity society for all, reaching for its future with confidence, sustained by faith, fair play, and a conviction that good and courageous people flourish when they’re free-this is the noble vision we share, a vision of a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world. Just as America has always been synonymous with freedom, so, too, should we become the symbol of peace across the Earth. I’m confident we can keep faith with that mission.

Peace with freedom is our highest aspiration-a lasting peace anchored by courage, realism, and unity. We’ve stressed our willingness to meet the Soviets halfway in talks on strategic weapons. But as Commander in Chief, I have an obligation to protect this country, and I will never allow political expediency to influence these crucial negotiations.

We should remember that our defense capability was allowed to deteriorate for many years. Only when our arms are certain beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be used. PresidentJohn F. Kennedy spoke those words in 1961. Too many who admired him have forgotten that the price of peace is dear. But some members of his party have not, and I am proud to have one of them, a brilliant patriot, Jeane Kirkpatrick, by my side.

And I deeply appreciate your patriotic support for rebuilding our defenses. We’re just beginning to restore our capability to meet present and future security needs. I am open to suggestions for budget savings, but defense is not just another federal program. It is solely the responsibility of the federal government. It is its prime responsibility. So, our first responsibility is to keep America strong enough to remain free, secure, and at peace, and I intend to make sure that we do just that.

America’s foreign policy supports freedom, democracy, and human dignity for all mankind, and we make no apologies for it. The opportunity society that we want for ourselves we also want for others, not because we’re imposing our system on others but because those opportunities belong to all people as God-given birthrights and because by promoting democracy and economic opportunity we make peace more secure.

Democratic nations do not wage war on their neighbors. But make no mistake, those who would hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on our shores, those who would weaken America or give Castro’s terrorists free rein to bring violence closer and closer to our borders are doing no service to the cause of peace.

Fellow citizens, fellow conservatives, our time has come again. This is our moment. Let us unite, shoulder to shoulder, behind one mighty banner for freedom. And let us go forward from here not with some faint hope that our cause is not yet lost; let us go forward confident that the American people share our values, and that together we will be victorious.

And in those moments when we grow tired, when our struggle seems hard, remember what Eric Liddell, Scotland’s Olympic champion runner, said in Chariots of Fire: “So where does the power come from to see the race tO its end? From within. God made me for a purpose, and I will run for His pleasure.”

If we trust in Him, keep His word, and live our lives for His pleasure, He’ll give us the power we need-power to fight the good fight, to finish the race and to keep the faith.

Thank you very much. God bless you and God bless America.

President Reagan’s First Inaugural Address

Tuesday, January 20th, 1981.


Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O’Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens: To a few of us here today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding–we are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

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.

Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government–not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter–and they are on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals and families whose taxes support the Government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

I have used the words “they” and “their” in speaking of these heroes. I could say “you” and “your” because I am addressing the heroes of whom I speak–you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.” To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow–measured in inches and feet, not miles–but we will progress. Is it time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles, there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of…. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it–now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

I am told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inauguration Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence.

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man–Martin Treptow–who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and 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 which now confront us.

And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.

Omaha Beach, Normandy

President Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984. Normandy, France.Address at the U.S.-French Ceremony at Omaha Beach, Normandy on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.


We stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of – or inches of sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, “Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero.”

Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.

“Someday, Lis, I’ll go back,” said Private First Class Peter Robert Zannata, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. “I’ll go back, and I’ll see it all again. I’ll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves.”

Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. “In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever,” she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, “the story to end all stories was D-Day.”

“He made me feel the fear of being on the boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the sea sickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers’ faces-the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death.”

Private Zannata’s daughter wrote to me, “I don’t know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it’s the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year old boy having to face that beach.”

The anniversary of D-Day was always special to her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father’s survival was a miracle: “So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, `You did what you had to do, and you kept on going.”

When men like Private Zannata and all our Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongfully seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to bee free again.

We salute them today. But, Mr. President [Francois Mitterand of France], we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country-the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic people who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the post-war world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.

Today, the living here assembled-officials, veterans, citizens-are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.

Lisa Zannata Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: “I’m going there, Dad, and I’ll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I’ll see the graves, and I’ll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I’ll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let any one else forget. And, Dad, I’ll always be proud.”

Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-Day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any President can. It is enough to say about Private Zannata and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

Thank you.

President Reagan’s Speech at Pointe de Hoc, Normandy

Ronald Reagan — Pointe de Hoc, Normandy, June 6, 1984 (The 40th anniversary of D-Day)


We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine-guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your ‘lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor’…

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

Reagan’s Speech at the 4th Annual CPAC Convention: A New Republican Party

February 6, 1977

I’m happy to be back with you in this annual event after missing last year’s meeting. I had some business in New Hampshire that wouldn’t wait.

Three weeks ago here in our nation’s capital I told a group of conservative scholars that we are currently in the midst of a re-ordering of the political realities that have shaped our time. We know today that the principles and values that lie at the heart of conservatism are shared by the majority.

Despite what some in the press may say, we who are proud to call ourselves “conservative” are not a minority of a minority party; we are part of the great majority of Americans of both major parties and of most of the independents as well.

A Harris poll released September 7, l975 showed 18 percent identifying themselves as liberal and 31 per- cent as conservative, with 41 percent as middle of the road; a few months later, on January 5, 1976, by a 43-19 plurality those polled by Harris said they would “prefer to see the country move in a more conservative direction than a liberal one.”

Last October 24th, the Gallup organization released the result of a poll taken right in the midst of the presidential campaign.

Respondents were asked to state where they would place themselves on a scale ranging from “right-of-center” (which was defined as “conservative”) to left-of-center (which was defined as “liberal”).

Thirty-seven percent viewed themselves as left-of-center or liberal
Twelve percent placed themselves in the middle
Fifty-one percent said they were right-of-center, that is, conservative.

What I find interesting about this particular poll is that it offered those polled a range of choices on a left-right continuum. This seems to me to be a more realistic approach than dividing the world into strict left and rights. Most of us, I guess, like to think of ourselves as avoiding both extremes, and the fact that a majority of Americans chose one or the other position on the right end of the spectrum is really impressive.

Those polls confirm that most Americans are basically conservative in their outlook. But once we have said this, we conservatives have not solved our problems, we have merely stated them clearly. Yes, conservatism can and does mean different things to those who call themselves conservatives.

You know, as I do, that most commentators make a distinction between they call “social” conservatism and “economic” conservatism. The so-called social issues—law and order, abortion, busing, quota systems—are usually associated with blue-collar, ethnic and religious groups themselves traditionally associated with the Democratic Party. The economic issues—inflation, deficit spending and big government—are usually associated with Republican Party members and independents who concentrate their attention on economic matters.

Now I am willing to accept this view of two major kinds of conservatism—or, better still, two different conservative constituencies. But at the same time let me say that the old lines that once clearly divided these two kinds of conservatism are disappearing.

In fact, the time has come to see if it is possible to present a program of action based on political principle that can attract those interested in the so-called “social” issues and those interested in “economic” issues. In short, isn’t it possible to combine the two major segments of contemporary American conservatism into one politically effective whole?

I believe the answer is: Yes, it is possible to create a political entity that will reflect the views of the great, hitherto, conservative majority. We went a long way toward doing it in California. We can do it in America. This is not a dream, a wistful hope. It is and has been a reality. I have seen the conservative future and it works.

Let me say again what I said to our conservative friends from the academic world: What I envision is not simply a melding together of the two branches of American conservatism into a temporary uneasy alliance, but the creation of a new, lasting majority.

This will mean compromise. But not a compromise of basic principle. What will emerge will be something new: something open and vital and dynamic, something the great conservative majority will recognize as its own, because at the heart of this undertaking is principled politics.

I have always been puzzled by the inability of some political and media types to understand exactly what is meant by adherence to political principle. All too often in the press and the television evening news it is treated as a call for “ideological purity.” Whatever ideology may mean—and it seems to mean a variety of things, depending upon who is using it—it always conjures up in my mind a picture of a rigid, irrational clinging to abstract theory in the face of reality. We have to recognize that in this country “ideology” is a scare word. And for good reason. Marxist-Leninism is, to give but one example, an ideology. All the facts of the real world have to be fitted to the Procrustean bed of Marx and Lenin. If the facts don’t happen to fit the ideology, the facts are chopped off and discarded.

I consider this to be the complete opposite to principled conservatism. If there is any political viewpoint in this world which is free for slavish adherence to abstraction, it is American conservatism.

When a conservative states that the free market is the best mechanism ever devised by the mind of man to meet material needs, he is merely stating what a careful examination of the real world has told him is the truth.

When a conservative says that totalitarian Communism is an absolute enemy of human freedom he is not theorizing—he is reporting the ugly reality captured so unforgettably in the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

When a conservative says it is bad for the government to spend more than it takes in, he is simply showing the same common sense that tells him to come in out of the rain.

When a conservative says that busing does not work, he is not appealing to some theory of education—he is merely reporting what he has seen down at the local school.

When a conservative quotes Jefferson that government that is closest to the people is best, it is because he knows that Jefferson risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to make certain that what he and his fellow patriots learned from experience was not crushed by an ideology of empire.

Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanatacism 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 willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.

The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and that we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations—found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow.

One thing that must be made clear in post-Watergate is this: The American new conservative majority we represent is not based on abstract theorizing of the kind that turns off the American people, but on common sense, intelligence, reason, hard work, faith in God, and the guts to say: “Yes, there are things we do strongly believe in, that we are willing to live for, and yes, if necessary, to die for.” That is not “ideological purity.” It is simply what built this country and kept it great.

Let us lay to rest, once and for all, the myth of a small group of ideological purists trying to capture a majority. Replace it with the reality of a majority trying to assert its rights against the tyranny of powerful academics, fashionable left-revolutionaries, some economic illiterates who happen to hold elective office and the social engineers who dominate the dialogue and set the format in political and social affairs. If there is any ideological fanaticism in American political life, it is to be found among the enemies of freedom on the left or right—those who would sacrifice principle to theory, those who worship only the god of political, social and economic abstractions, ignoring the realities of everyday life. They are not conservatives.

Our first job is to get this message across to those who share most of our principles. If we allow ourselves to be portrayed as ideological shock troops without correcting this error we are doing ourselves and our cause a disservice. Wherever and whenever we can, we should gently but firmly correct our political and media friends who have been perpetuating the myth of conservatism as a narrow ideology. Whatever the word may have meant in the past, today conservatism means principles evolving from experience and a belief in change when necessary, but not just for the sake of change.

One we have established this, the next question is: What will be the political vehicle by which the majority can assert its rights?

I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends—perhaps including some of you here tonight—who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party.

I respect that view and I know that those who have reached it have done so after long hours of study. But I believe that political success of the principles we believe in can best be achieved in the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party can hold and should provide the political mechanism through which the goals of the majority of Americans can be achieved. For one thing, the biggest single grouping of conservatives is to be found in that party. It makes more sense to build on that grouping than to break it up and start over. Rather than a third party, we can have a new first party made up of people who share our principles. I have said before that if a formal change in name proves desirable, then so be it. But tonight, for purpose of discussion, I’m going to refer it simply as the New Republican Party.

And let me say so there can be no mistakes as to what I mean: The New Republican Party I envision will not be, and cannot, be one limited to the country club-big business image that, for reasons both fair and unfair, it is burdened with today. The New Republican Party I am speaking about is going to have room for the man and the woman in the factories, for the farmer, for the cop on the beat and the millions of Americans who may never have thought of joining our party before, but whose interests coincide with those represented by principled Republicanism. If we are to attract more working men and women of this country, we will do so not by simply “making room” for them, but by making certain they have a say in what goes on in the party. The Democratic Party turned its back on the majority of social conservatives during the 1960s. The New Republican Party of the late ’70s and ’8Os must welcome them, seek them out, enlist them, not only as rank-and-file members but as leaders and as candidates.

The time has come for Republicans to say to black voters: “Look, we offer principles that black Americans can, and do, support.” We believe in jobs, real jobs; we believe in education that is really education; we believe in treating all Americans as individuals and not as stereotypes or voting blocs—and we believe that the long-range interest of black Americans lies in looking at what each major party has to offer, and then deciding on the merits. The Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted. Well, it’s time black America and the New Republican Party move toward each other and create a situation in which no black vote can be taken for granted.

The New Republican Party I envision is one that will energetically seek out the best candidates for every elective office, candidates who not only agree with, but understand, and are willing to fight for a sound, honest economy, for the interests of American families and neighborhoods and communities and a strong national defense. And these candidates must be able to communicate those principles to the American people in language they understand. Inflation isn’t a textbook problem. Unemployment isn’t a textbook problem. They should be discussed in human terms.

Our candidates must be willing to communicate with every level of society, because the principles we espouse are universal and cut across traditional lines. In every Congressional district there should be a search made for young men and women who share these principles and they should be brought into positions of leadership in the local Republican Party groups. We can find attractive, articulate candidates if we look, and when we find them, we will begin to change the sorry state of affairs that has led a Democratic-controlled Congress for more than 40 years. I need not remind you that you can have the soundest principles in the world, but if you don’t have candidates who can communicate those principles, candidates who are articulate as well as principled, you are going to lose election after election. I refuse to believe that the good Lord divided this world into Republicans who defend basic values and Democrats who win elections. We have to find tough, bright young men and women who are sick and tired of cliches and the pomposity and the mind-numbing economic idiocy of the liberals in Washington.

It is at this point, however, that we come across a question that is really the essential one: What will be the basis of this New Republican Party? To what set of values and principles can our candidates appeal? Where can Americans who want to know where we stand look for guidance?

Fortunately, we have an answer to that question. That answer was provided last summer by the men and women of the Republican Party—not just the leadership, but the ones who have built the party on local levels all across the country.

The answer was provided in the 1976 platform of the Republican Party.

This was not a document handed down from on high. It was hammered out in free and open debate among all those who care about our party and the principles it stands for.

The Republican platform is unique. Unlike any other party platform I have ever seen, it answers not only programmatic questions for the immediate future of the party but also provides a clear outline of the underlying principles upon which those programs are based.

The New Republican Party can and should use the Republican platform of 1976 as the major source from which a Declaration of Principles can be created and offered to the American people.

Tonight I want to offer to you my own version of what such a declaration might look like. I make no claim to originality. This declaration I propose is relatively short, taken, for most part, word for word from the Republican platform. It concerns itself with basic principles, not with specific solutions.

We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people. Toward that end, we, therefore, commit ourselves to the following propositions and offer them to each American believing that the New Republican Party, based on such principles, will serve the interest of all the American people .

We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions, even their own mistakes. Government must step in when one’s liberties impinge on one’s neighbor’s. Government must protect constitutional rights, deal with other governments, protect citizens from aggressors, assure equal opportunity, and be compassionate in caring for those citizens who are unable to care for themselves.

Our federal system of local-state-national government is designed to sort out on what level these actions should be taken. Those concerns of a national character—such as air and water pollution that do not respect state boundaries, or the national transportation system, or efforts to safeguard your civil liberties—must, of course, be handled on the national level.

As a general rule, however, we believe that government action should be taken first by the government that resides as close to you as possible.

We also believe that Americans, often acting through voluntary organizations, should have the opportunity to solve many of the social problems of their communities. This spirit of freely helping others is uniquely American and should be encouraged in every way by government.

Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation.

Families—not government programs—are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved.

hus it is imperative that our government’s programs, actions, officials and social welfare institutions never be allowed to jeopardize the family. We fear the government may be powerful enough to destroy our families; we know that it is not powerful enough to replace them. The New Republican Party must be committed to working always in the interest of the American family.

Every dollar spent by government is a dollar earned by individuals. Government must always ask: Are your dollars being wisely spent? Can we afford it? Is it not better for the country to leave your dollars in your pocket?

Elected officials, their appointees, and government workers are expected to perform their public acts with honesty, openness, diligence, and special integrity.

Government must work for the goal of justice and the elimination of unfair practices, but no government has yet designed a more productive economic system or one which benefits as many people as the American market system.

The beauty of our land is our legacy to our children. It must be protected by us so that they can pass it on intact to their children.

The United States must always stand for peace and liberty in the world and the rights of the individual. We must form sturdy partnerships with our allies for the preservation of freedom. We must be ever willing to negotiate differences, but equally mindful that there are American ideals that cannot be compromised. Given that there are other nations with potentially hostile design, we recognize that we can reach our goals only while maintaining a superior national defense, second to none.

In his inaugural speech President Carter said that he saw the world “dominated by a new spirit.” He said, and I quote: “The passion for freedom is on the rise.”

Well, I don’t know how he knows this, but if it is true, then it is the most unrequited passion in human history. The world is being dominated by a new spirit, all right, but it isn’t the spirit of freedom.

It isn’t very often you see a familiar object that shocks and frightens you. But the other day I came across a map of the world created by Freedom House, an organization monitoring the state of freedom in the world for the past 25 years. It is an ordinary map, with one exception: it shows the world’s nations in white for free, shaded for partly free and black for not free.

Almost all of the great Eurasian land mass is completely colored black, from the western border of East Germany, through middle and eastern Europe, through the awesome spaces of the Soviet Union, on to the Bering Strait in the north, down past the immensity of China, still further down to Vietnam and the South China Sea—in all that huge, sprawling, inconceivably immense area not a single political or personal or religious freedom exists. The entire continent of Africa, from the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, all that vastness is almost totally unfree. In the tiny nation of Tanzania alone, according to a report in the New York Times, there are 3,000 people in detention for political crimes—that is more than the total being held in South Africa! The Mideast has only one free state: Israel. If a visitor from another planet were to approach earth, and if this planet showed free nations in light and unfree nations in darkness, the pitifully small beacons of light would make him wonder what was hidden in that terrifying, enormous blackness.

We know what is hidden: gulag. Torture. Families—and human beings—broken apart. No free press, no freedom of religion. The ancient forms of tyranny revived and made even more hideous and strong through what Winston Churchill once called “a perverted science.” Men rotting for years in solitary confinement because they have different political and economic beliefs, solitary confinement that drives the fortunate ones insane and makes the survivors wish for death.

Only now and then do we in the West hear a voice from out of that darkness. Then there is silence—the silence of human slavery. There is no more terrifying sound in human experience, with one possible exception. Look at that map again. The very heart of the darkness is the Soviet Union and from that heart comes a different sound. It is the whirring sound of machinery and the whisper of the computer technology we ourselves have sold them. It is the sound of building, building of the strongest military machine ever devised by man. Our military strategy is designed to hopefully prevent a war. Theirs is designed to win one. A group of eminent scientists, scholars and intelligence experts offer a survey showing that the Soviet Union is driving for military superiority and are derided as hysterically making, quote, “a worst case,” unquote, concerning Soviet intentions and capabilities.

But is it not precisely the duty of the national government to be prepared for the worst case? Two senators, after studying the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have reported to the Armed Forces committee that Soviet forces in Eastern Europe have the capability to launch, with little warning, a “potentially devastating” attack in Central Europe from what is termed a “standing alert.”

Reading their report, one can almost see the enormous weight of the parts of the earth that are under tyranny shifting in an irresistible tilt toward that tiny portion of land in freedom’s light. Even now in Western Europe we have Communists in the government of Italy. France appeasing terrorists, and England—for centuries the model or the sword of freedom in Western Europe—weak, dispirited, turning inward.

A “worst case?” How could you make a good case out of the facts as they are known? The Soviet Union, poised on the edge of free Europe, capable of striking from a standing start, has modern tanks in far greater numbers than the outmoded vehicles of NATO. We have taken comfort from NATO’s superiority in the air, but now the Soviet Union has made a dramatic swing away from its historic defensive air posture to one capable of supporting offensive action. NATO’s southern flank is described in the Senate report with a single word: shambles.

The report is simply reality as it was, with different names and faces, in Europe in the late 1930s when so many refused to believe and thought if we don’t look the threat will go away.

We don’t want hysteria. We don’t want distortion of Soviet power. We want truth. And above all we want peace. And to have that the United States has to immediately re-examine its entire view of the world and develop a strategy of freedom. We cannot be the second-best super-power for the simple reason that he who is second is last. In this deadly game, there are no silver medals for second.

President Carter, as a candidate, said he would cut five to seven billion dollars from the defense budget. We must let him know that while we agree, there must be no fat in our armed forces. Those armed forces must be capable of coping with the new reality presented to us by the Russians, and cutting seven billion dollars out of our defense budget is not the way to accomplish this. Some years ago, a young President said we will make any sacrifice, bear any burden and we will to preserve our freedom.

Our relationship with mainland China is clouded. The so-called “gang of four” are up one day and down the next and we are seeing the pitfalls of making deals with charismatic personalities and living legends. The charisma fades as the living legends die, and those who take their place are interested not in our best wishes but in power. The keyword for China today is turmoil. We should watch and observe and analyze as closely and rationally as we can.

But in our relationships with the mainland of China we should always remember that the conditions and possibilities for and the realities of freedom exist to an infinitely greater degree with our Chinese friends in Taiwan. We can never go wrong if we do what is morally right, and the moral way—the honorable way—is to keep our commitment, our solemn promise to the people of Taiwan. Our liberal friends have made much of the lack of freedom in some Latin American countries. Senator Edward Kennedy and his colleagues here in Washington let no opportunity pass to let us know about horrors in Chile.

Well, I think when the United States of America is considering a deal with a country that hasn’t had an election in almost eight years, where the press is under the thumb of a dictatorship, where ordinary citizens are abducted in the night by secret police, where military domination of the country is known to be harsh on dissenters and when these things are documented, we should reject overtures from those who rule such a country.

But the country I’m describing is not Chile—it is Panama.

We are negotiating with a dictatorship that comes within the portion of that map colored black for no freedom. No civil rights. One-man rule. No free press.

Candidate Carter said he would never relinquish “actual control” of the Panama Canal. President Carter is negotiating with a dictatorship whose record on civil and human rights is as I have just described and the negotiations concern the rights guaranteed to us by treaty which we will give up under a threat of violence. In only a few weeks we will mark the second anniversary of the death of freedom for the Vietnamese. An estimated 300,000 of them are being “re-educated” in concentration camps to forget about freedom.

There is only one major question on the agenda of national priorities and that is the state of our national security. I refer, of course, to the state of our armed forces—but also to our state of mind, to the way we perceive the world. We cannot maintain the strength we need to survive, no matter how many missiles we have, no matter how many tanks we build, unless we are willing to reverse:

The trend of deteriorating faith in and continuing abuse of our national intelligence agencies. Let’s stop the sniping and the propaganda and the historical revisionism and let the CIA and the other intelligence agencies do their job!
Let us reverse the trend of public indifference to problems of national security. In every congressional district citizens should join together, enlist and educate neighbors and make certain that congressmen know we care. The front pages of major newspapers on the East Coast recently headlined and told in great detail of a takeover, the takeover of a magazine published in New York—not a nation losing its freedom. You would think, from the attention it received in the media, that it was a matter of blazing national interest whether the magazine lived or died. The tendency of much of the media to ignore the state of our national security is too well documented for me to go on.

My friends, the time has come to start acting to bring about the great conservative majority party we know is waiting to be created.

And just to set the record straight, let me say this about our friends who are now Republicans but who do not identify themselves as conservatives: I want the record to show that I do not view the new revitalized Republican Party as one based on a principle of exclusion. After all, you do not get to be a majority party by searching for groups you won’t associate or work with. If we truly believe in our principles, we should sit down and talk. Talk with anyone, anywhere, at any time if it means talking about the principles for the Republican Party. Conservatism is not a narrow ideology, nor is it the exclusive property of conservative activists.

We’ve succeeded better than we know. Little more than a decade ago more than two-thirds of Americans believed the federal government could solve all our problems, and do so without restricting our freedom or bankrupting the nation.

We warned of things to come, of the danger inherent in unwarranted government involvement in things not its proper province. What we warned against has come to pass. And today more than two-thirds of our citizens are telling us, and each other, that social engineering by the federal government has failed. The Great Society is great only in power, in size and in cost. And so are the problems it set out to solve. Freedom has been diminished and we stand on the brink of economic ruin.

Our task now is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home. We are not a cult, we are members of a majority. Let’s act and talk like it.

The job is ours and the job must be done. If not by us, who? If not now, when?

Our party must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group. No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society.

Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, 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.

Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs.

Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.

Contacting President Reagan

President Reagan’s Address

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The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation

	The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
	40 Presidential Drive
	Simi Valley, CA  93065

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A parting word from the President

The announcement of President Reagan’s illness and a word of thanks from the President.