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Ronald Wilson Reagan


Government is the people's business and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.

( Address to the New York City Partnership Association, January 14, 1982 )

We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.
(September 29, 1981 )

The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.
( Address to the National Alliance of Business, October 5, 1981 )

Government has an important role in helping develop a country's economic foundation. But the critical test is whether government is genuinely working to liberate individuals by creating incentives to work, save, invest, and succeed.
(October 30, 1981 )

We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much. -
Address to National Association of Realtors, March 28, 1982

It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history.... [It is] the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.
( Speech to Britain's Parliament, 1982 )

Let us beware that while they [Soviet rulers] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination over all the peoples of the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.... I urge you to beware the temptation ... to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of any evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.
( Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983 )

I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering those nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.
 - Address to the Nation, March 23, 1983

There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.
( Address to the University of South Carolina, Columbia, September 20, 1983 )

History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
( Address to the nation, January 16, 1984 )

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.
( Normandy, France, June 6, 1984 )

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest.
( Normandy, France, June 6, 1984 )

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them -- this morning, as they prepared for their journey, and waved good-bye, and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
( Speech about the Challenger disaster, January 28, 1986 )

Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back -- with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free.
( State of the Union Address, February 4, 1986 )

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
( Remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business, August 15, 1986 )

The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It's the same difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.
( Remarks at Human Rights Day event, December 10, 1986 )

How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.
( Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987 )

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
( Speech near the Berlin Wall, 1987 )

A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.
( Ibid., February 11, 1988 )

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.-Address to students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.

Republicans believe every day is 4th of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15.

After watching the State of the Union address the other night, I'm reminded of the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Only in this case, it's not flattery, but grand larceny: the intellectual theft of ideas that you and I recognize as our own. Speech delivery counts for little on the world stage unless you have convictions, and, yes, the vision to see beyond the front row seats. ( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

Although the political landscape has changed, the bold ideas of the 1980's are alive and well. Republican candidates swept every major election across the country last year... and as a result, it seems that our opponents have finally realized how unpopular liberalism really is. So now they're trying to dress their liberal agenda in a conservative overcoat."
( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

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. ( October 27, 1964 )

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. (October 27, 1964 )

[Contributor's note: The Tax Foundation reports government at all levels now takes 49% of personal income, minus transfer payments.]

However, our task is far from over. Our friends in the other party will never forgive us for our success, and are doing everything in their power to rewrite history. Listening to the liberals, you'd think that the 1980's were the worst period since the Great Depression, filled with suffering and despair. I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully tired of the whining voices from the White House these days. They're claiming there was a decade of greed and neglect, but you and I know better than that. We were there. ( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

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. ( October 27, 1964 )

In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis -- a crisis where the demands of the economic order are colliding directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union..Communism will be left on the ash heap of history.

It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad, and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag. ( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

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. ( October 27, 1964 )

Now, as most of you know, I'm not one for looking back. I figure there will be plenty of time for that when I get old. But rather, what I take from the past is inspiration for the future, and what we accomplished during our years at the White House must never be lost amid the rhetoric of political revisionists. ( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

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. October 27, 1964

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere.

The Democrats may remember their lines, but how quickly they forget the lessons of the past. I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. The next time a Saddam Hussein takes over Kuwait, or North Korea brandishes a nuclear weapon, will we be ready to respond? In the end, it all comes down to leadership, and that is what this country is looking for now. ( RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994 )

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 choosing. ( October 27, 1964 )

The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West will not contain Communism, it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we'll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written. ( Notre Dame Univ., May 17, 1981 )

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." ( October 27, 1964 )

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 payments. ( October 27, 1964 )

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 world. ( October 27, 1964 )

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 structure. ( October 27, 1964 )

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 "for" anything. ( October 27, 1964 )

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 benefits." ( October 27, 1964 )

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. ( October 27, 1964 )

For you see, my fellow Republicans, we are the change! ( RNC speech, August 17, 1992 )

The poet called Miss Liberty's torch, "the lamp beside the golden door." Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we're here tonight. The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise every opportunity is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America. Her heart is full; her door is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the eighties unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed. In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America's is. ( RNC speech, August 23, 1984 )

A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist. ( Feb. 11, 1988 )

The government is not the solution, the government is the problem.

We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide.

Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era. But what they overlook is that in America, every day is a new beginning and every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends. For this is the land that has never become but is always in the act of becoming. Emerson was right: America is the Land of Tomorrow.

How can we not believe in the greatness of America? How can we not do what is right and needed to preserve this last best hope of man on Earth? After all our struggles to restore America, to revive confidence in our country, hope for our future -- after all our hard-won victories earned though the patience and courage of every citizen -- we cannot, must not and will not turn back. We will finish our job. How could we do less? We're Americans.

When you see all that rhetorical smoke billowing up from the Democrats, well ladies and gentleman, I'd follow the example of their nominee; don't inhale. ( Republican National Convention, 1992 )

This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well let me tell you something; I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine and Governor... You're no Thomas Jefferson!"
( Republican National Convention, 1992 )

Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.

It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.
( First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981 )

No arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. ( First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981 )

Cures were developed for which there were no known diseases.
( Commenting on Congress and the federal budget, 1981 )

Please tell me you're Republicans. ( To surgeons as he entered the operating room, 1981 )

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