To try and write about the 40th President of the United States is a truly daunting and overwhelming task, but to do it on his 100th birthday and succinctly is even more intimidating. Reagan’s presidency is arguably one of the most paramount of the 20th century, and as I sat to write this piece, my thoughts drew to three principles that defined both Reagan the President and Reagan the man: his sense of virtue, his sense of compassion and his sense of perception. Reagan maintained these three principles which changed the world forever.
First, President Reagan was a man who had an incredible amount of virtue. There is no doubt that he truly saw the world in terms of good vs. evil. He was famously noted for his condemnation of the evil empire and pursuing ways that would place it on the “ash heaps of history.” On March 3, 1983 whilst delivering a speech in Florida, President Reagan said:
“To ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding is to remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”
Reagan was deeply discouraged and worried about an aggressive Soviet Union that loyally believed in the words of Lenin, who said “wouldn’t matter if three quarters of the human race perished; the important thing is that one quarter be communist.” Whilst many prophesied an uneasy bi-polar world on the brink of nuclear war, President Reagan pursued a policy that would dismantle a totalitarian regime and build a lasting democracy. In the book Reagan, In His Own Hand, he wrote “that a dictatorship was based on fear, but a democracy was built on virtue and when that is dissolved democracy ceases to exist.”
Not only did Reagan’s virtue inspire the free world during his administration, but it left a lasting mark on future policy makers. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has often attributed President Reagan’s “moral vision for America and the world” as a reason why she joined the Republican Party and pursued similar foreign policy goals.