Ronald Reagan quotes
Birthdate: 6. February 1911
Date of death: 5. June 2004
Other names: Ronald Wilson Reagan, Ronald Regan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician and actor who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Before his presidency, he was the 33rd Governor of California, from 1967 to 1975, after a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
Raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois, Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected President of the Screen Actors Guild—the labor union for actors—where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. Reagan had always been a Democrat until 1962 when he became a conservative and switched to the Republican Party. In 1964, Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing", supported Barry Goldwater's foundering presidential campaign and earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman. Building a network of supporters, he was elected Governor of California in 1966. As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered National Guard troops in during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency in 1968 and 1976; four years later, he easily won the nomination outright, becoming the oldest elected U.S. president up to that time, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Entering the presidency in 1981, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, spurred the War on Drugs, and fought public sector labor. Over his two terms, the economy saw a reduction of inflation from 12.5% to 4.4%, and an average annual growth of real GDP of 3.4; while Reagan did enact cuts in domestic discretionary spending, tax cuts and increased military spending contributed to increased federal outlays overall, even after adjustment for inflation. During his re-election bid, Reagan campaigned on the notion that it was "Morning in America", winning a landslide in 1984 with the largest electoral college victory in American history. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the Iran–Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", and during his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan challenged Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!". He transitioned Cold War policy from détente to rollback, by escalating an arms race with the USSR while engaging in talks with Gorbachev, which culminated in the INF Treaty, shrinking both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan's presidency came during the decline of the Soviet Union and just ten months after the end of his term, the Berlin Wall fell, Germany reunified the following year, and on December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.
When Reagan left office in 1989, he held an approval rating of sixty-eight percent, matching those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era. He was the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve two full terms, after a succession of five prior presidents did not, some under unusual circumstances. Although he had planned an active post-presidency, Reagan disclosed in 1994 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier that year. He appeared publicly for the last time at the funeral of Richard Nixon. He died ten years later in 2004 at the age of 93. Reagan had the third-longest life out of all the presidents, after George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford. An icon among Republicans, he is viewed favorably in historian rankings of U.S. presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the U.S.
Quotes Ronald Reagan
To his wife, Nancy, while in hospital shortly after he was shot in an assassination attempt (30 March 1981). Reagan is believed to have been quoting the words of boxer Jack Dempsey to his wife after he lost to Gene Tunney in 1926. http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=26804
1980s, First term of office (1981–1985)
„Although I held public office for a total of sixteen years, I also thought of myself as a citizen-politician, not a career one.“
Address to the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce (10 July 1991)
Context: Although I held public office for a total of sixteen years, I also thought of myself as a citizen-politician, not a career one. Every now and then when I was in government, I would remind my associates that "When we start thinking of government as 'us' instead of 'them,' we've been here too long." By that I mean that elected officeholders need to retain a certain skepticism about the perfectibility of government.
„Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.“
„Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.“
As cited in The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007), Alan Greenspan, Penguin Press, Chapter 4 (Private Citizen), p. 87 : ISBN 15942 01315
Anderson-Reagan Presidential Debate (21 September 1980) http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29407
Context: With regard to the freedom of the individual for choice with regard to abortion, there's one individual who's not being considered at all. That's the one who is being aborted. And I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.
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„The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.“
On growing up in a small town, as quoted in Who was Ronald Reagan? (2004) by Joyce Milton, p. 9
Context: You get to know people as individuals. The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.
„Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.“
1980s, Second term of office (1985–1989), Farewell Address (1989)
Context: Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.
„If adults want to take such chances that is their business. But surely the communications media … should let four million youngsters know what they are risking.“
Taped statement (August 1979); Reagan is on record as opposing legalization of Marijuana: "I also want to applaud you for helping the people of Oregon fight a misguided minority that would legalize marijuana. That would be the worst possible message to send to our young people." Speech http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/073086a.htm (30 July 1986); Reagan's son Michael has disputed the fervor of his opposition: "Of course Dad was for legalization. … He wasn't crazy, he didn't want his kids in jail!"
"Reagan's Marijuana Comments Cause Stir" (11 May 2002) http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/5/11/12343.shtml
Context: The smoke from burning marijuana contains many more cancer-causing substances than tobacco. And if that isn’t enough it leads to bronchitis and emphysema. If adults want to take such chances that is their business. But surely the communications media … should let four million youngsters know what they are risking.
„One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.“
Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (1961 LP)
Context: But at the moment I'd like to talk about another way because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent. One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.... Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We have an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.
„It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.“
1980s, First term of office (1981–1985), First Inaugural address (1981)
Context: Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led Americans out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.
Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.
Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.
We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words: "America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."
The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.
„I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.“
Letter announcing Alzheimer's diagnosis http://www.nationalreview.com/document/reagan_sunset200406070915.asp (5 November 1994)
Context: In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.
„You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down“
up to a man's age-old dream; the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964)
Address to the Nation (27 July 1981) http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1981/72781d.htm
1980s, First term of office (1981–1985)
Context: This is not the time for political fun and games. This is the time for a new beginning. I ask you now to put aside any feelings of frustration or helplessness about our political institutions and join me in this dramatic but responsible plan to reduce the enormous burden of Federal taxation on you and your family.
„I have never given a litmus test to anyone that I have appointed to the bench…. I feel very strongly about those social issues, but I also place my confidence in the fact that the one thing that I do seek are judges that will interpret the law and not write the law.“
Interview with LA Times http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/62386e.htm (23 June 1986)
1980s, Second term of office (1985–1989)
Context: I have never given a litmus test to anyone that I have appointed to the bench.... I feel very strongly about those social issues, but I also place my confidence in the fact that the one thing that I do seek are judges that will interpret the law and not write the law. We've had too many examples in recent years of courts and judges legislating. They're not interpreting what the law says and whether someone has violated it or not. In too many instances, they have been actually legislating by legal decree what they think the law should be, and that I don't go for. And I think that the two men that we're just talking about here, Rehnquist and Scalia, are interpreters of the Constitution and the law.
„The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain.“
1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964)
Context: The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits — not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."