Via David P. in NC.
Given as a stump speech, at speaking engagements, and on a memorable
night in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign. This
version is from that broadcast.
I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.
It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by
the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the
capacity of mankind for self government."
This idea -- that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other
source of power -- is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history
of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe
in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American
Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital
can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest
there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to
man's age-old dream--the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order --
or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their
humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have
embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the
liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and
The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without
controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must
use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for
Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater
service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more
power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government
does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.
Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're
denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to
legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the
desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never
We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by
reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step
toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this
program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when
they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end
We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations
which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money
government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the
We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for
our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each
individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take
him.... But we cannot have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by
people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social
Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and
discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional
proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector's share is
37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to
slipping from our grasp.
Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and
then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the
temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the
doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the
doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of
public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you
fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients,
or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping
he'll eat you last.
If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what's at stake. We
are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the
swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there
is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us
to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of
a policy of accommodation.
They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.
There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the
courage to do what we know is morally right. 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."
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children
this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the
first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our
children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment
here. We did all that could be done.
Link to original post.
Ronald Reagan. Today is the 103rd anniversary of Reagan's birth.