Reagan's speech can still inspire

Published on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 21:07 - Written by

Editor’s note: To commemorate the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, no words are more fitting than his. We reprint excerpts from his 1976 speech, “A Time for Choosing”:

I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers …

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth …

This idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves …

“The full power of centralized government” — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. …

We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they’re going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer — and they’ve had almost 30 years of it — shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? …

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always “against” things — we’re never “for” anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so …

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth…

You and I know — and do not believe — that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. …

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.