Because Ronald Reagan stood against communism, I thought we wouldn’t have to. I was wrong. Here’s Part Two of the lessons from Reagan, from my book “The Criminalization of Christianity,” that we can apply to our modern day fight against the largest government takeover in American history.
Speaking directly – not ‘politically’
Unashamedly, unapologetic, undaunted by the odds, the criticism and the battle ahead – Reagan stated his case, fought and eventually won the battle for freedom. He spoke directly and not with “politically correct” euphemisms. At the Geneva Summit, after some ice-breaking jokes, Ronald Reagan spoke decisively to Gorbechev: “Let me tell you, Mr. General Secretary, why we fear you and why we despise your system.”
When a reporter asked him what he thought of the Berlin wall, his answer was, “It’s as ugly as the idea behind it.” He spoke directly, and he didn’t care who heard it.
Freedom on the offensive
Reagan taught us that freedom must be pursued. England’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher toasted the president, praising Reagan “for putting freedom on the offensive where it belongs.”
You see, Reagan didn’t just talk about it. He did something about it. He commissioned his cabinet to spread the ideas of freedom to Eastern Europe and to dissident groups behind the Iron Curtain. “Project Democracy” was not to simply protect freedom, but to advance it. Reagan’s friend, Charles Wick, who had direct access to the president, managed the Voice of America which beamed radio broadcasts into the Soviet bloc. Getting the truth to those behind the curtain was essential. That’s why we must use alternative media and fight the government takeover of the radio airwaves through FCC regulations and the censorship doctrine as well as attempts to control the Internet.
But troops also need funds. The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, was then created to provide money for overseas organizations working to develop democracies in their countries. There were already government and private efforts to support solidarity including trade unions, Catholic charities and Polish ethnic organizations that were sending money and supplies along with the CIA. NED provided funds for food, clothing and medicine for Polish political prisoners and their families. It also funded books and materials that could be smuggled into Poland and reduce the government control over information.
We need to advance with our own Voice of America and National Endowment for Democracy – rushing supplies and funds to those fighting the battle in remote areas in the states. As we saw under communism, if the government controls information, none of us are free. A state-run media that broadcasts infomercials from the White House threatens our freedom. But if America is informed, freedom has a chance. If we can send supplies and fund the pockets of resistance, the fight for freedom will prevail. Just like it did under Reagan. You can help at Faith to Action.
Reagan was right. It’s time to put freedom on the offensive again. Ronald Reagan stood for freedom over oppression and sent the message as well as the means to secure it.
God gifted Reagan with wit and wisdom that left his opponents tongue-tied. He didn’t question the meaning of the word “is.” Nor did he cover up failed plans with empty rhetoric of “hope” and “change.” No, when he was attacked, he used his famous humor – like when he answered Sam Donaldson’s question at a 1982 press conference:
Sam Donaldson: “Mr. President, in talking about the continuing recession tonight, you have blamed the mistakes of the past and you’ve blamed Congress. Does any of the blame belong to you?”
Reagan: “Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat.”
He’s the guy that after he got shot told Nancy, “I forgot to duck.” The one who told the surgeons, “I hope you’re all Republicans.” And when hooked up to all the equipment following the surgery scribbled to his wife, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” Other notes said: “If I had this much attention in Hollywood I would have stayed there,” and “Send me to LA, where I can see the air I’m breathing,” and “Winston Churchill said nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”
Reagan lived his statement of principle:
“A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough.”
– Address to Cambridge Union Society, Cambridge, England, Dec. 5, 1990
Reagan overcame the major objection of the time best demonstrated by an anti-nuclear banner displayed in Germany that simply stated: “I am afraid.” Dick Cheney said it this way, “Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness.” He is right. Weakness invites attack.
If Reagan taught us anything, it was that the policy of appeasement is not the answer. Winston Churchill would tell you the same thing: not appeasement, not containment, peace through strength.
Reagan knew freedom’s source
Reagan knew he had a “divine purpose” – especially after surviving being shot. On Feb. 4, 1982, he spoke to the National Prayer Breakfast: “I’ve always believed that we are, each of us, put here for a reason, that there is a plan, somehow a divine plan for all of us.”
As Reagan spoke of the shining city on a hill, of letting that light shine before men, he knew the source from where light was drawn and from where our freedom comes. It’s something we’re endowed with by our Creator, not the state, the courts or any politician.
To the hundreds of thousands who attended tea parties in every state across this nation this weekend, I say thank you. Despite the media blackout, our message has been sent to those in Washington who are working to destroy our free market, our dollar, our health care and our freedom: The party’s over.
We’re fighting back.