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Gary M. Galles - Contributor

Mr. Galles is a professor of econmics at Pepperdine University.

Remember Reagan's Vision Of Liberty
In the President's Own Words
[Gary M. Galles] 11/8/03

The Reagans won't be part of CBS's November sweeps drive, after all. The miniseries, promoted as a substantially true "unvarnished look at the Reagan presidency," generated controversy as a misleading smear job, particularly for putting words Reagan never said into his mouth.

Of course, if people were serious about discovering what most essentially defined Ronald Reagan, they could just listen to what he actually said -- because his inspirational words reflected our founders' vision of America's greatness more than any other President in memory. He echoed them in recognizing that our greatness could only be unleashed through an unwavering commitment to liberty, which required a tightly constrained scope for federal power. And Americans would be well served to focus on those insights, rather than just venting outrage at a demeaning caricature:

Man is not free unless government is government expands, liberty contracts.

The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.

...outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well as the private sector.

We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom...

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.

...growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down.

There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.

...government does not produce freedom. People...take freedom from government, and they must continue to struggle to keep it.

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purposes.

Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment in time... And freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.

It is up to that our grandchildren, when they look back at us, can truly say that we not only preserved the flame of freedom, but cast its warmth and light further than those who came before us.

There is no question that we have failed to live up to the dreams of the founding fathers many times and in many places...But all in all, the one thing we must be on guard against is thinking that because of this, the system has failed. The system has not failed. Some human beings have failed the system.

Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout...Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault on your own business...recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.Our natural unalienable rights are now presumed to be a dispensation of government, divisible by a vote of the majority...we have certain rights which cannot be infringed upon, even if the individual stands outvoted by all of his fellow citizens. Without this recognition, majority rule is nothing more than mob rule.

It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers...This is the issue...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 capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

...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 capability to govern someone else?

Ronald Reagan saw the America's possibilities, if released from government shackles: "In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal. America's is." Like our Founding Fathers, Reagan knew that "The United States remains the last best hope for a mankind plagued by tyranny and deprivation." For fanning the flame of American liberty, we owe him a debt of thanks -- not a smear job.

copyright 2003 Gary M. Galles




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