Bimbo Banter

Happy Birthday, President Reagan!

  • Leadership
  • February 6, 2015
  • by Merrie Spaeth

02 06 15 reagan

Today would have been the 40th president’s 104th birthday. There is growing recognition of President Reagan’s accomplishments, intellect, abilities and the role that his optimistic attitude played to encourage Americans to listen to and trust him.

Another 40 years from now, to whom will we be wishing “Happy Birthday!”? On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks like a shoo-in for the nomination. On the Republican side, well, we’re going to need a bigger bus to tool around Iowa! However, we can make this prediction:  it will be the candidate with the ability to articulate the message President Reagan wrote, himself, in a 1964 column in National Review:

“We represent the forgotten American – that simple soul who goes to work, bucks for a raise, takes out insurance, pays for his kids’ schooling, contributes to his church and charity, and knows that there just ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Typical of President Reagan, this seemingly simplistic thought is much deeper than you might think. Underlying the thoughts are these themes: working provides purpose; family cannot be replaced by consumerism; spiritual life connects you to others–and leads to what can only be understood by faith.

The “aw shucks” line about no such thing as a free lunch is more than an anti-government screed. It’s recognition that the creation of a system of ongoing prosperity requires all of us to work hard. Whenever government gets involved, there are always unintended consequences. Depending only on good intentions and never measuring what government programs actually cost, what that cost takes away from other sectors – well, this may be “simple” but it’s the route to the hearts of a majority of American voters.

Finally, the gravamen of the comment is that when all--or almost all of us--step up to and welcome our responsibilities, society moves forward. It’s not an American completely forgotten, just one ignored by too many of those in power.

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