While much of the world has gathered to celebrate the life of President Ronald Reagan, we must continue to gather to celebrate the death of the negative ideas he defeated.
President Reagan was a believer, you see. He believed in G-d that in every country and human heart there was a daily struggle between good and evil. He believed we must fight to promote good and defeat evil.
Sure, he had his critics. The "smart" people mocked him for his simplicity mocked his black-and-white understanding of the world. They mock him still, despite reams of evidence that show he was mostly right and they were mostly wrong.
Take communism. The smart people wanted to contain it. They wanted to "not lose" the Cold War. But his idea was to win it to defeat the evil and oppression inherent in Communist ideology. He forged ahead with a bold plan and he won.
Some smart people believed America's era of tremendous growth and opportunity had ended. He knew better. He knew that if you want less of something, tax it, but if you want more, tax it less. He knew taxes and regulations restrained American productivity and ingenuity. He drove through sweeping reforms and the economy exploded it continued to grow, with minor interruptions, for nearly 20 years.
The smart people attacked him for his policies for the poor. He thought they looked down on the poor looked down on their ability to be productive. No, he believed that the most destitute should be cared for, but that all many of the poor needed was hope, opportunity, education and a helping hand. He wanted to lift them up rather than hold them down, but his views were hardly ever reported on accurately.
Well, in 1996, welfare reform finally did pass. The cynics and smart people said it would result in a massive increase in poverty and social ills of every kind, but they were wrong. The new program was designed to train, educate and help the poor help them work and stand on their own. It dramatically reduced poverty for millions, and is one of the most underreported successes in government history.
You see, Reagan believed in America American common sense. He believed there was no limit to what we could accomplish if we didn't care who got the credit.
He believed America was blessed by G-d, and that in return for our blessings we had a duty to the world. We are the shining city on the hill, after all, a beacon of hope and freedom for billions around the world. He said it best in his last speech from the Oval Office:
"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."
And while Reagan was promoting freedom, the smart people and cynics mocked him again. And many years later, he's proved them wrong yet again. Thanks to the success of the American experiment, and the tremendous revitalization our country enjoyed under his watch, democracy has taken root across the globe. Today, millions more live in freedom thanks to the example he helped set and the policies his administration promoted.
Sure, he wasn't a perfect man and his administration had its share of flaws and hiccups. But he knew that failure was a byproduct of the struggle between good and evil. On balance, good won under his watch more than not. And many negative and wrong-headed ideas died in his wake.
And, dearly beloveds, may those ideas rest in peace for a very long time.