Today, on the occasion of President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, Hope n' Change would like to share two stories. One is about a great man, and the other is about a fool. But hopefully both offer cause for optimism about our country and future.
The great man, of course, is Ronald Reagan. Much will be written about him today, speaking of his intellect, his principles, his many accomplishments, his rock-solid belief in America, his strength, his optimism, and his ability to not just lead...but inspire others to greatness. He said of himself "I am not a great communicator... but I communicate great things." Indeed.
Not long ago Newsweek magazine asked if the Presidency is "too big a job for one man." And of course, they were simply ducking the easily-answered question, "is Obama too small for the job?" It would be easy to think that no man could really rise to the task...unless we'd already seen it done. Leadership exists. Strength exists. Principle exists. And that means that it could one day return to the Whitehouse...perhaps as soon as 2012.
The contrast between Reagan and (alleged Reagan-wannabee) Barack Obama couldn't be greater. Ronald Reagan thundered to the Russians "tear down this wall!" Barack Obama told the Russians "if you sign the START treaty, I'll tell you England's nuclear secrets."
So by now, you're probably thinking the "fool" I mentioned earlier must be Mr. Obama... but it's not.
I was the fool.
When I was young (a long, long time ago), I lived through the Reagan area thinking like all of my peers: Republicans are bad, Democrats are good. Reagan is a stupid actor who just reads off a teleprompter. And why would I question my liberal assumptions? The three (count them!) TV channels all seemed to agree with that assessment, as did the newspaper in my small college town.
But life happens...and experience instructs even those who are slow to learn. I got a job, paid taxes, married, had a child, bought a home, had to think about schools, started my own business. And suddenly, politics wasn't abstract anymore. It wasn't theater. Politics had an impact not only on me, but on the world in which my daughter would live.
And over the decades, I could also see the good things in my world that were being lost. Things I'd always taken for granted. Quality schools? Availability of jobs? Fairness in the workplace? Honesty being the best policy? And I saw the programs of the Great Society playing out...and destroying the people they were meant to help.
And eventually I "got it." I understood the difference between intentions and results. I found out that the "news" frequently has an agenda...and that the only way to get an accurate picture is to gather information from many sources. And I also came to understand that it was my (and our) responsibility to try to educate others about all of this...because it's what's best for our country and everyone in it.
In summary, what we learned from Ronald Reagan is that the job of the Presidency isn't too big for one man. But it takes the right man. And what we can learn from my own experience is that, given time and enough information, even fools may eventually see the error of their ways and start doing the right thing.
So best wishes to Ronald Reagan on this 100th anniversary of his birth. I may have been late to the party...but I'm delighted to be here now.
Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. But this gift is for you.-