Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2022 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

Edwin J. Feulner / February 7, 2011

Reagan’s True Legacy

It’s been more than six years since our nation bid farewell to Ronald Reagan, born 100 years ago this month. Yet at times it seems as though he never left.

It’s been more than six years since our nation bid farewell to Ronald Reagan, born 100 years ago this month. Yet at times it seems as though he never left.

Consider how Reagan’s name surfaced repeatedly after the most recent State of the Union address, as pundits both liberal and conservative weighed the speech’s effectiveness. His photo-shopped image is on the cover of TIME, his arm draped around President Obama.

“If Obama has bounced back from the drubbing his party took at the polls last November,” writes Richard Norton Smith in the magazine, “it is in no small measure because he has been acting positively Reaganesque as of late.” Acting, perhaps, but not governing.

It’s worth reminding ourselves as we mark the centennial of Reagan’s birth what he accomplished – and how. It’s important to do this in part because much of what passes for praise of Reagan is veiled criticism.

Reagan is hailed, for example, as a great communicator. And with good reason; few politicians could match his rhetorical skill and his ability to articulate great themes that resonated with the American people.

But that’s where many on the Left stop. What they really seek to emulate is not his policies or his agenda. They hope that, by studying his methods, a little of his “magic” will rub off on the liberal policies that have proven such a hard sell over the last two years. Dress the liberal agenda in “Reaganesque” terms, and the electorate is yours, right?

What condescending nonsense. It wasn’t just Reagan’s ability to communicate that endeared him to millions of Americans. It was the fact that he was articulating their most deeply cherished beliefs. It went well beyond the optimistic outlook – which, although welcome, is something any president can attempt. It was because he spoke in direct terms that avoided the usual “buzzword” approach we get from Washington.

And he used that approach to say what many Americans thought: Taxes are too high – let’s cut them. Inflation is too high – let’s tame it. The Cold War can be won, not managed, and the world made safer for everybody – let’s do it.

The fable of the Left (the hard Left, anyway – many others are coming around) is that this was all smoke and mirrors. But the facts tell a different story. Starting from the “stagflation” mess his predecessor handed him, Reagan created a genuine economic miracle. After a three-stage tax cut and a reduction in government growth, our economy began to expand – by 31 percent from 1983 to 1989 in real terms. Americans of every class – rich, middle-class and poor – saw their wealth increase.

It was our nation’s longest peacetime expansion in a long and prosperous history. By decade’s end, we had added the economic equivalent of a new Germany to our gross national product. Inflation was cut by two-thirds, interest rates by half. Unemployment dropped to the lowest level in 15 years.

Even before the end of his first term, the signs of distinct progress were unmistakable. Small wonder that Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” campaign resonated with so many voters, leading to a landslide re-election in 1984. He wasn’t simply using a terrific sales pitch – he was actually telling the truth.

And people loved him for it. That’s why so many politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, seek to portray themselves as a latter-day Reagan. To decide whether they deserve this mantle, however, consider this quote from his farewell address:

“‘We the people’ tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. ‘We the people’ are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast.”

Only a politician who agrees with this – and governs accordingly – can be considered Reagan’s true heir.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.