George W. Bush: The Anti-Reagan
I've been struck during the remembrances and retrospectives of the life and presidency of Ronald Reagan by the stark contrast between his manner of governance and that of our current president.
George W. Bush claims a direct political lineage from Reagan but, in truth, his administration bears not the slightest resemblance to its far more popular predecessor.
Consider, for example, Reagan's own final summing up of his life and presidency:
“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”
Reagan indeed appealed to our best hopes.
Though faced with the very real and formidable threat of the Soviet Union and communism, he did not seek safety in police state tyranny at home or preemptive wars of imperial aggression abroad.
That was the Soviet's way. Not ours.
No, instead, he understood that the greatest weapon in our arsenal was freedom itself, not the false security of totalitarian tyranny or empire. And he wielded that weapon, both in stirring word and undaunted deed, with great effect. He defeated communism not by the "shock and awe" of indiscriminate munitions-inflicted murder, nor by the systematic dehumanization of suspected communists in cruel torture camps, but by holding forth the best of the American character and the universal value of real -- as opposed to merely rhetorical -- freedom. He relit our lamp of liberty, and in so doing, he made us better than we were and almost as good as we should be. Consequently, the whole world came to believe in the promise of freedom again. We Americans did too.
George W. Bush, on the other hand, appeals only to our worst fears.
Though faced with a relatively impotent and pathetic threat of stateless "terror", he demands that we forfeit our sacred birthright -- our Bill of Rights and Constitution -- even freedom itself, all to attain a false security against an equally false threat.
George W. Bush's "security" is the false security of the slave. George W. Bush's "freedom" is only the freedom of a would-be globe-wide dictator to act with utter impunity and to the detriment of mankind. And yet, he claims his lawless usurpations are in the defense of freedom for all. He even claims to be the heir to the mantle of Reagan.
What a farce!
The whole world knows better. And we Americans ought to as well.
Ronald Reagan renewed our confidence because he understood that freedom was our greatest strength and the only true source of ultimate security.
George W. Bush, on the other hand, now sows for us (and the world) the gravest of doubts because he wrongly thinks freedom's an unacceptable security risk in his mad globe-wide "war on terror".
Under Reagan, we were made ever freer even as we faced down and defeated freedom's greatest foe.
But under Bush, we are made ever more servile and enslaved in the face of freedom's lamest faux.
And so, George W. Bush is the anti-Reagan.
It shouldn't surprise us, then, that Bush's America is now closer in spirit to the Soviet Union Reagan faced down than the proud, victorious, and free nation Reagan led.
In a mere twenty years, a complete and total inversion has taken place.
Under Bush, America has become a new EVIL EMPIRE.
But we can become Reagan's America again. All that we need do is resolve to be free once again. And believe again, as Reagan did, that our birthright of freedom, far from being a cause for insecurity, has ever been and ever shall be the source of our ultimate security and our greatest strength.
Only then will we stand victorious against all the foes of freedom -- even the George W. Bush administration itself.
"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." ~ Ronald Reagan, 1964, from the speech that launched his political career
This essay was first featured at PrisonPlanet.tv.