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Rest in Peace Ronnie

Since his death one week ago today, many have tried to downplay Ronald Reagan’s historic importance, saying one should “wait and see” how history plays out before passing judgment. Personally, I think that’s pretty ridiculous, especially given the monumental changes made during his eight-year term.
When he came to office, a national debate had been raging for years that no single man (or woman, to be P.C.) could possibly do the job—it had simply become too difficult to handle. Supporters of this idea began writing essays in prominent publications calling for a review of our form of government, which they said was beginning to show signs of failure.
But, one man was capable of doing the job: Ronald Reagan.
The Reagan Revolution resulted in a strengthening of the presidency and in the federal government as a whole. Instead of placing responsibility on the shoulders of government and the bill on the those of the taxpayers, he appealed to our ability to produce uncommon results when given the opportunity.
In the process, he proved that not only could one man get an agenda accomplished in Washington, D.C., but the nation would support that agenda in an overwhelming fashion. He won his first term by 440 electoral votes; he was re-elected four years later by a margin of 512.
I don’t doubt that, if given the chance, he would have won two more terms in office, just as Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression/World War II era.
On the home front, he lowered taxes (the highest rate in 1981 was more than 70 percent), he slowed down inflation (which was growing at a double-digit rate in the early 1980s) and expanded the role of the private sector in everyday life through deregulation and incentives for small business ownership. He believed in Americans and America delivered, producing the largest peacetime economic boom in our history.
That alone should be enough to rank him among the greatest leaders in world history. But “Dutch” did far more than that for the America he loved so much.
During his eight-year presidency, Reagan led a massive effort to liberate Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from Communism. As liberals wrung their hands, worried that any aggressive stance toward the USSR would bring about World War III, he applied his simple principal to the problem. America should win the Cold War, he reasoned, and the Communists should lose.
Through his very own brand of “cowboy diplomacy,” a mixture of political, military and economic pressure, Reagan won the Cold War single-handedly, with very little actual fighting involved. In the meantime, this is what we had to listen to from the so-called “experts”:
“That the Soviet system has made great material progress in recent years is evident both from the statistics and from the general urban scene. One sees it in the appearance of wellbeing of the people on the streets and the general aspect of restaurants, theaters, and shops. Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower.”— John Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
By 1985, Mikael Gorbachev has come to the realization that Communism is doomed to failure and ushers in a new era of U.S.-Soviet relations with a reform system called “Perestroika.” In 1986, the first Stinger missiles arrived in Afghanistan, turning the tide in its war against the USSR.
Gorbachev insists a few months later that Reagan give up on the Strategic Defense Initiative. He refuses to give up on our national defense posture. By 1989, just one month after the president had left office, the Red Army was defeated in Afghanistan and retreated back home. A few months later, the Berlin Wall came down.
By 1991, the Communist Party falls apart and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is no more. When asked how it all came about, to a member, the Communist elite of the USSR point to Ronald Reagan and his refusal to back down.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if it had not been for the Reagan defense buildup, if the United States had not demonstrated that it is willing not only to stand up for freedom but to devote considerable sums of money to defending it, we probably would not be sitting here today having a free discussion between Russians and Americans.”— Boris Pinsker, Soviet Economist
If that’s not a legacy of greatness, I don’t know what is.