“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”
– John Winthrop, 1630
For what now seems like an all-too-distant and brief moment of history, Ronald Reagan helped restore the American Dream by instilling in the nation a sense of pride and confidence and by reinvigorating our values of faith in God, personal responsibility and individual liberty.
No, the ’80s weren’t perfect. But in contrast to the dysfunctional ’90s, it represents a golden age for America. And though President Reagan wasn’t perfect either, he certainly deserves more credit for the fleeting glory we experienced in this nation and for a rebirth of freedom around the world than any other living mortal.
In his new book, “The City on a Hill,” the president’s son, Michael, persuasively and artfully weaves personal anecdotes and political lessons to make the case that his father’s legacy provides the paradigm to turn America around once again. But it does much more than this.
It convinces me that Michael Reagan, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, is himself one of the most sincere, positive and committed forces for freedom in our country today — a faithful executor of his father’s historical bequest to us all.
“America’s mission in the world is to point the way to peace and freedom and hope,” he writes. “The blessings of liberty are the birthright of all people, all around the world. That is why Abraham Lincoln called this great land ‘the last best hope of man on earth.’ Here in this country, we have been called to show the world what freedom costs, and what freedom accomplishes in the world. America is industrious, brilliant, and prosperous because she is free.”
Michael Reagan understands just how tenuous our grasp on freedom is. And every day he uses his powerful radio program to act as a modern-day Paul Revere, sounding the alarm on current threats to that liberty, to our Constitution, to our way of life.
So often, these days, the more we learn about people in the public eye, the easier it becomes to see their shortcomings. In Michael Reagan’s case, the more I get to know him, the more I listen to him and the more I read him, the greater my respect for him grows.
Outspoken, courageous, articulate, he always call ‘em the way he sees ‘em. Like he did earlier this year when he publicly quit the Republican Party because it had betrayed its own principles and the tradition that had made it a winner with the American people from 1980 through 1992.
“It’s just like what happened to Dad when he was a New Deal Democrat,” Reagan writes. “He realized that while he was giving speeches about the decline of America, he was voting for the very people who contributed to that decline. One day, he woke up and realized that he hadn’t left the Democratic Party — the party had left him!”
Reagan crusaded against the idea of naming a new federal building in Washington, D.C., after his father, a champion of smaller government. It would be truer to the ideals of his father, he said, to level the edifice and name the hole after him.
He even spoke out against a government plan to have taxpayers buy his father’s ranch at an inflated price and turn it into a park. Here was a proposal that might actually result, some day, in a bigger inheritance for his own children, yet Michael Reagan, once again, stood on principle rather than self-interest. I dare say most of us would have simply chosen not to pick such a fight.
In times of despair, like these, as we see our foundation of freedom crumbling before the corrosive and corruptive encroachment of government, people often ask me, “Is there any hope?”
Yes, America, there is hope. As long as freedom fighters like Michael Reagan are there with us, manning the barricades, inspiring us, reminding us of our common values and pointing the way toward victory, there is definitely hope.