As we look ahead to a presidential transition in the coming weeks, we would do well to look back … to Ronald Reagan.
I love Reagan’s farewell address (among many others). I don’t remember if I saw it live back in ’89 (I would have been 12), but I’ve watched it on Youtube many times since.
One of the best parts is when he talks about the meaning of “we the people,” which is in the above 30-second clip. (The full speech, which is absolutely fantastic, is here.). He talks about how the American tradition is the first in the history of the mankind where we “truly reversed the course of government.” The purpose of government is not to tell people what to do and “tell the people what their privileges are.” Rather, it is the people who tell the government what to do, including “where it should go, and by what route, and how fast.”
This is because we are free. The recognition of this principle was, Reagan said, “the underlying basis for everything I’ve tried to do these past eight years.”
Reagan got it right. The preservation of freedom is why the presidency — and government in its entirety — exists.
Obama is entering into a very tough challenge on many fronts, one of which is the economy. As he is making his plans even today, and implements those plans once he takes office, may he remember that the answer is not more government telling us what to do, taking more money in taxation, and creating make-work jobs. It is in preserving and expanding freedom — political and economic freedom.
Here is the section from Reagan’s farewell address that I am referring to, which begins at 1:30 in the Youtbue video above:
Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the people.” “We the people” tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. “We the people” are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the people” tell the government what it is allowed to do. “We the people” are fee. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I’ve tried to do these past eight years.