After many BUCF members came together yesterday for a fantastic night to celebrate the 21st birthday of our president, today also brings a special birthday for another great leader which should not go unmentioned.
100 years ago today, a man was born who would go on to become, in my opinion, the very greatest contemporary President of the United States; a true world statesman, moved by the most honourable values and conviction of perhaps any world leader in the past century.
In his 8 year tenure as the 40th US President spanning the best part of the 1980s, much like his counterpart across the pond in Downing Street, he transformed a country reeling from the political instability and economic turmoil of the 1970s into the powerful, dynamic, resilient nation that would be the America the world knew and admired for nearly three decades. He told us that in times of economic crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, but that ‘government is the problem’, a philosophy which led to lower inflation, higher employment, and stronger growth than America had seen since the post-war boom.
This triumph of Reaganomics was far from his only great achievement. His passionate pursuit of libertarianism rolled back the frontiers of the federal government unlike under any other administration, cutting wasteful spending and heavy handed regulation to allow business to flourish and personal freedoms to thrive, all under a blanket of lower taxes for almost every citizen.
In his second term in office, from 1985-1989, however it was his foreign policy brilliance that shone most brightly. By opening the lines of communication with Gorbachev from the middle of the decade, he paved a new way for America and the Soviet Union to climb down from the Cold War without ever needing to concede any kind of victory to Communism, encouraging oppressed citizens behind the Iron Curtain to continue yearning for freedom, and urging the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall. By 1988, the INF treaty had been signed, bilateral arms reduction was well underway, and Gorbachev was withdrawing Soviet troops from Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. The Cold War that had left the world minutes from potential annihilation for nearly 40 years,was finally coming to an end.
Of course, his statesmanship on the world stage came with the support of undoubtedly the closest ‘special relationship’ between the US and Britain of any administration. The common ideology, purpose, and dynamism shared between Thatcher and Reagan allowed our two countries to grow together for the better, as both leaders battled the common foes of Socialism and the economic chaos it brings. It was a relationship that even Bush and Blair could only partly aspire to emulate, and which Obama tragically seems bent on obliterating, given recent events.
The legacy of Ronald Reagan is one of a triumph of liberty over tyranny, of freedom over big government, of Libertarianism over Socialism, of the importance of close allies, and the power of free enterprise. These are all lessons Obama would do well to learn, as more spending brings more debt, more unemployment, and more economic misery. I believe there’s hope for the future though; After all, it takes a Carter to get a Reagan.
Long may his memory live on.
BUCF Publicity Officer