Opinion / Politics / We The People

Remembering Ronald Reagan and Our Better Angels – Timely

ronald reagan

Ronald Reagan’s White House, between 1981 and 1983, was a dynamic, inspiring, almost electric place to work.  People walked on air, worked to all hours – particularly people like Dave Stockman and Roger Porter, Ed Meese and Jim Baker.  Late at night, you could almost hear the Liberty Bell ringing.

The place, times and man radiated a sense of destiny, putting the world right, lifting the human spirit.  We need that spirit of hope, opportunity, can-do and oneness again.  Here is a secret – it is there to be found.  The Liberty Bell still rings.

Reagan was a conservative.  They say he was elected on six words:  Strong defense, smaller government, lower taxes.  To that, add a good moral compass, no confusion on faith, conscience or commitment.  He had a knack for plainly explaining the “why” behind moral values and American history – to everyone.

He kept faith with the past, the kind of faith that comes from surviving hard times, an alcoholic father, The Depression, World War II and, as California’s Governor, the rocky 1960’s.  He had grounding, and therefore could communicate why history and grounding mattered, from Normandy to tearing down the Berlin Wall. 

Reagan could appreciate America’s innate goodness, greatness, destiny and unity.  He was also gifted at conveying it to America with lightness and persuasion, not with hurry or fury, just straight talk.   He defended our Constitution, limited government, separation of powers, democracy, capitalism, liberty, equality, a strong military, and genius of average Americans.  He foresaw and facilitated the Soviet Union’s collapse; he never wavered, because he had a long view.

In a nutshell, Reagan had foresight, conviction, faith in a loving God, an understanding that America was not an accident, that our trajectory was meaningful – and that it pointed somewhere good and important.  And what was America?  It was ideals made real by belief in ourselves – the burdens, benefit and benevolence of being American.

His magic was the ability to pivot to the positive, after explaining the stakes.  He restored un-stumbling belief in America’s character and future, the ability to overcome long odds, love our neighbor and be our best.  Asked to look inward, we did – and found the courage that we had forgotten we had.

Other presidents have sounded that note – realizing that America is best when “We, the People” are each at our best.  John Kennedy reminded us – regardless of creed, trade, race, rank or root – to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” 

Abraham Lincoln closed his First Inaugural thus: “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

That, of course, is what Reagan believed and communicated, to each of us.  We have it in us to be our best, lift our neighbor, preserve the “bonds of affection.”  If we work to stay grounded in history, ideals and a sense of destiny, we can hear the Liberty Bell and those “mystic chords” sounded in Lincoln’s appeal to our “better angels.”    

That brings me to today.  We Americans are at a time of peril, promise and decision, again.  We can go one way, or the other.  We have slid into reflexive hostility to one another.  We can continue sliding, dividing and diminishing, or we can consciously stop the slide.

How do we stop the slide?  How do we restore “One Nation under God, indivisible,” overcome hostility and allow the “memory to swell” and hearts to be “touched” by what Lincoln and Reagan termed “the better nature of our angels?”  By remembering our remarkable history and resolving to be equal to it.

We can each take responsibility for how we interact with each other, how often we reach to help, forgive, talk quietly, and offer an unsolicited smile.  We can relearn our history, and appreciate it – loving it, being inspired by it. 

One last thing.  This would be an optimal time to see President Trump do as Reagan did, pivot to asking the American People to be all they can be.  Presidents have a unique ability to set and reset tone, from what Theodore Roosevelt once called the “bully pulpit.”

In fairness, President Trump has used the bully pulpit well, to explain his priorities, restore respect for the Constitution, American flag, sanctity of citizenship, inviolate nature of the border, importance of our military, economic liberty, equality of opportunity, and capitalism’s power.  He has challenged longstanding assumptions about bureaucracy, big business, the labor market, tax policy, national and international expectations. 

Reagan did that, albeit with a different style.  Reagan attempted to remake government smaller, reduce regulations, cut taxes, restore individual liberty, rebalance trade, inject moral compass, and resurrect an understanding of America’s proud past. 

But Reagan did more that.  He earnestly asked Americans – as Lincoln and Kennedy had – to refresh expectations of themselves, believe again in each other, and believe firmly in one America.

That is where we are.  President Trump could take a page from Ronald Reagan.  He could consciously shift tone, and offer a vision rich with hope, fidelity to history – and calling out our “better angels.” 

Using the bully pulpit to remake government is hard enough.  Using it to inspire, lift distraught souls, assuage fears, and cause people to think about what is possible, what they can be – is harder. 

Reagan was a master, to profound effect.  President Trump has the opportunity, if he chooses.   This would be a good time.  Reagan lifted the human the spirit, across America.  The secret?  Reagan knew we had it in us, all along.  We still do.  We just need to be asked – to be our best.  The bell still rings – always has.

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Frank Greimel Jr
1 year ago

We live in a much different world today we don;t have a Tip O’neil or a congress unwilling to work with the president as we have today
President Trump has and is doing a great job under very difficult conditions.
We need to reelect him for another four years.

1 year ago

I loved Ronald Reagan like I love Donald Trump. Go Trump Go!

1 year ago

Really! Of course History is wonderful. Our man Trump has the fight of a lifetime on his hands and needs all of us to stop playing the game of”this is the way it should be” otherwise let’s welcome Socialists and their programs while we lament the past. GO TRUMP!

1 year ago

Nice idea, but how can we “be nicer” to invaders that want to destroy our nation? While full of good sentiment, this article is like asking Americans in 1942 to be nice to the Nazis or the Japs. Now is the time to fight those who are trying to destroy our nation from within, not be nice to them!!

1 year ago

President Trump is a great President and trying to bring this country back together. He could do it if congress would quit acting like spoiled brats and do their job and put America first!

Rick J.
1 year ago

There is a big difference between the nation Reagan inspired and the one President Trump is trying
to inspire. Reagan and a majority of the nation were of the greatest generation. People who were proud of
the country, it’s history. They were givers and not takers. Many of todays population are ignorant of history
and are “takers” demanding more, believing they are owed because they are alive. Sadly, this is not the nation Reagan and the greatest generation knew.

1 year ago

Reagan and Trump are the only real constitutionally conservative presidents of the last 60 years. President Reagan was hated by the establishment Republican party, the mainstream media and of course the Democrats and so is President Trump today. Both for the same reason by the way. They both stood for the American people and NOT for the status quo of “Lets just go along to get along”, while the country drifted farther and farther leftward incrementally adopting more and more socialistic ideals. The lack of real Congressional Republican support during Reagan’s time is pretty much mirrored by Congressional republicans today.… Read more »

Dean Brittain
1 year ago

The Dems and their fake news can’t tolerate a Republican in the white house. They get worse every year. They constantly lie and look for anything to say that they claim makes Trump unqualified to be president. The social media giants have joined them. AARP too. Glad you guys have joined the fight for truth, alongside Fox news. Keep working hard, America needs you.

1 year ago

Because of the intense hatred that the Left has for President Trump he will never be able to unify our Great Nation.They will not allow it to happen.They want to transform our country into a one party Socialist crap hole!

1 year ago

America once again finds itself at a “Tipping Point.” Do we continue on into the future with the values that our founding fathers bestowed upon us or do we go down a path of harsh government rule, totoliterianism, and the destruction of our constitution and our freedoms? The choice lies with us. We still have the freedom to vote, communicate with our government officials, make our voice be heard and stand boldly for what is right and truthful. Too many moral, good, God fearing, Patriots in America are doing nothing. Thank God for people like Washington, Reagan, Lincoln, Trump and… Read more »

stephen russell
1 year ago

Reagen did some But Trump did way more than Reagen, Reagen is DC Std type
Not blue collar like Trump despite his riches.
Had Reagen done more aside beating Russia than Yes.
But that was our nation then.
Today Dems would chew RR up alone.

1 year ago

We as God fearing, Law abide Citizens have slept way to long! We have let them drag this Great Country America into the pits. It’s time with Gods help to resurrect this Great USA from the grip of death! And by the way I think President Trump is doing a great job, He’s not one of the good ole boys and girls of Washington! Thank God!

Ron March
1 year ago

Sadly, we live at a time when many citizens have no first-hand knowledge of the sacrifices made by great patriots to protect our freedoms. Many of our institutions of learning are deliberately withholding this history from them. Parents have to stop abrogating this task to these institutions and accept this responsibility before all lost. President Trump’s efforts, and those of his family, more than meet the threshold for heroism. The rest is on our shoulders.

1 year ago

This is what Lincoln wrote and it was in his first inaugural address, says this retired U.S. history teacher and Lincoln devotee:
“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

What Honest Abe wrote is much more powerful, words really do matter, than what the misquote states.

Russell Wooten
1 year ago

Great article, the daily news makes me sad, but Robert B. Charles has made me proud in myself and in America again.
I think if Washington DC, the Deep State, the big cities and states, and the fake news were even neutral; we would be talking about Mr. Trump being one of our greatest presidents.

Dawn J.
1 year ago

Ronald Reagan was a super president, but on September 11, I think it would be better to remember the fallen heroes of that day 18 years ago.

J. A. Marquez
1 year ago

The difference is that Ronald Reagan, like Abraham Lincoln, inspired Americans to be the best that they could be without calling attention to themselves. America’s strength lies on the strength of its values. As long as we uphold those values our Nation will not only endure and overcome any adversity, but will continue to be what Reagan referred to as “that city on the hill” ; that is, a beacon of hope for all its citizens as well as the rest of humanity.

Glenn Lego
1 year ago

If you ever come to Dixon, Illinois you can visit the house where Reagan grew up. Nice tour.

Carol Shiver
1 year ago

This article is a very good one and one I hope President Trump reads. Though I don’t jump on the “Trump needs to quit Tweeting” wagon, I do think he can do more in the way of what this article says, which is to ‘pivot to the positive’. For example, he could shine the ugly light that is now burning on the homeless in San Francisco and LA under the Democrat-controlled governments, then ‘pull a Reagan’ and talk about how better things COULD be in those cities if we change the status quo and vote for different leadership. That could… Read more »

Old Bill
1 year ago

The words of Nikita Khrushchev echo more loudly in 2019 during the Democrat debates than they did when the Soviet Premier slammed his shoe on the Dias at the UN: “We will take America without firing a shot…….We will BURY YOU! We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism. We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.” (From an address to Western Ambassadors at… Read more »

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