“Government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people.”
— Ronald Reagan, 1964
Today marks the 50th anniversary of private citizen Ronald Reagan’s landmark speech in behalf of Barry Goldwater‘s presidential candidacy in 1964. Reagan’s remarks gave meaning to a campaign the establishment had said was a fool’s errand, and offered a response to those who said conservatism was not sophisticated or viable as a governing force.
The facts have proved otherwise, and that speech made Reagan the leading conservative in America. Years after his passing, he still holds that title. Who calls himself a Nixon Republican or a Bush Republican? Most call themselves Reagan Republicans, even if they don’t know the true meaning of Reaganism….(read more) LA Times
“I’ve spent most of my adult life as a Democrat. I’ve recently seen fit to follow another course”
Today marks the 50th anniversary of what has become known as simply “The Speech.” The actual title Ronald Reagan gave to the address with which he electrified a nation during a 30-minute broadcast for the failing Goldwater campaign was “A Time for Choosing.” Goldwater lost a week later to Lyndon Johnson, but conservative presidential politics had a North Star in Reagan after that. “It defined conservatism for 50 years,” Reagan biographer Craig Shirley concluded.
“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.”
Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote that the night of Reagan’s address represented “the most successful political debut since William Jennings Bryan” and his “Cross of Gold” speech in 1896. “I didn’t know it then,” Reagan wrote in his 1991 autobiography, “but that speech was one of the most important milestones of my life.”
“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.”
Financially, it raised a stunning $8 million (over $60 million in today’s money) for the flailing Goldwater campaign, most of which couldn’t be spent in those days when checks were delivered by regular mail. But as former Reagan aide Jeffrey Lord reminds us, “the real importance of the speech was that Reagan had looked Americans in the eye and stood for something.”
“If government planning and welfare had the answer, 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? But the reverse is true.”
It was a different Ronald Reagan than the one many Americans remember as president who gave “The Speech” that night. As historian Steven Hayward noted in the Washington Post on Sunday, it “was not the avuncular, optimistic Reagan of his film roles, or of his subsequent political career that emphasized ‘morning in America’ and the ‘shining city on a hill,’ but a comparatively angry and serious Reagan, serving up partisan red meat against liberalism and the Democrats” (whose party he had been a member of only two years before). Read the rest of this entry »