Reagan in the morning

I like to get up a couple of hours early so that I can read the news, read from a book, or just gather my thoughts.  I do not like to get up and hurry off to work.  I feel cheated if I do. 

This morning I’ve read a little from Reagan: A Life in Letters.

from page 257.

Here Reagan writes to a young man about the importance of people taking responsibility for their government.

Dear Philip:

Thanks very much for your generous words.  I’m most grateful– pleased also at your interest in government.

You have touched at the very heart of the matter– people involvement.  In recent years growing possibly from the Great Depression years when people were literally stunned by the collapse of the economy there has been a decline in political participation by the people.  The Roosevelt era was characterized by a government takeover to an extent we’ve never known.

Personal initiative was our national characteristic.  Organized labor was fragmented and had little power mainly because most Americans resisted joining anything that might restrict their individualism.

The pattern changed quickly.  The year I graduated from college the government was running radio ads urging you not to leave home looking for work but to stay and wait for the government to help you.

Today so many things we once thought of as personal or private responsibility are now just accepted as government’s jobs.  With this in my opinion has grown the idea that we are incapable as individuals of affecting government.  Thus the cliche’s– “there is no difference between the parties,” “my vote doesn’t count,” “politicians are all alike.”

I have learned that the people can influence government and that our system will only work if the people participate.  But the people must be informed or rather inform themselves.   Jefferson said the people will not make a mistake– if they have all the facts.  If there is a weakness in our two-party system it is that we accept a party label as ours and then vote the label without questioning whether the party continues to represent our own philosophical beliefs.

I was a Democrat when the Democratic Party stood for states rights, local autonomy, economy in government and individual freedom.  Today it is the party that has changed, openly declaring for centralized  federal power and government sponsored redistribution of the individual’s earnings.

You asked me for some ideas; let me suggest that every government service should be weighed against the cost of that service in loss of personal freedom.  We willingly give up our right to drive 90 miles per hour down a city street because we want safety for self and family.  By the same token do we want government to have the right to censor films because some filmmakers lack of good taste?

Government exists to protect the rights which are ours from birth; the right to life, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A man may choose to sit and fish instead of working.  That’s his pursuit of happiness.  He does not have the right to force his neighbors to support him (welfare) in his pursuit because that intereferes with their pursuit of happiness.

I hope this is something of what you wanted.

Best regards,
Ronald Reagan


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