The Greatest President Of Our Lifetime                                                                                               Ronald Reagan Change History For The Better                                                                                            By Jeff Lukens

Ronald Reagan brought positive change to a troubled world by giving Americans the inspiration and vision necessary to achieve it, and by making friends of former enemies.

His critics often depicted him as an amiable dunce, a presidential Forrest Gump whose accomplishments were merely fortunate happenstance. This is nonsense. What they did not understand, and Reagan seized upon, was the power of speaking the truth, and the determination of people everywhere to live freely and prosperously. His plan for forcing the collapse of the Soviet Union was nothing short of brilliant.

In 1980, many believed our nation's greatness was long past. The economy was stagnant with high inflation and high unemployment. Soviet troublemaking was on the rise as U.S. influence fell following the fiascos of Vietnam and Watergate. After decades of facing down the Soviet Union, no one imagined the Cold War could end anytime soon.

And then, out of the malaise stepped Ronald Reagan. He told us we did not have to accept decline in our country. He declared that only by telling the unvarnished truth about our problems could we make progress. America could be great again. While he had many detractors in Washington, the American people responded positively to his message.

Throughout his life, Reagan believed that even the most disheartening setbacks providentially worked out for the best as part of God's plan. Early in his presidency, in the tense hours after he had been shot, his jokes and one-liners gave comfort to an anxious world. It was truly a graceful moment for Reagan, and conceivably grace of a more profound kind as well. Reagan later said he believed his life had been spared for a special purpose.

Now think about it. Anyone who has been shot would definitely say it was a setback. In Reagan's unique way, however, things did work out for the best. By the end of that decade, his historic special purpose became visible for all to see.

The outpouring of public goodwill following the assassination attempt left political opponents powerless to stop the Reagan revolution. He moved quickly to rebuild the military, crush inflation, and build lasting economic growth.

Reagan pushed tax cuts, deregulation and free trade, and slashed social spending. He fired striking air-controllers. IRAs and 401(k)s were created. By 1982, his reforms ignited an unparalleled economic boom that lasted through the 1990s, and is a major reason for the economic prosperity we have today.

Reagan's most audacious policy, however, was rejecting coexistence with the Soviet Union and forcing their financial collapse. In March 1983, he delivered two hardhitting speeches, both derided by the political "wise men" of the day. The first was his "evil empire" speech. No matter how politically incorrect it was to say so, he called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" because it was evil, and it was an empire. In his second speech, he announced the Strategic Defense Initiative.

By 1985, when he finally met with Soviet Chairman Gorbachev in Geneva, Reagan could diplomatically say the robust growth of the large American economy would out produce a minuscule and failing Soviet economy. We could therefore out produce them militarily as well.

Reagan also told Gorbachev, "Let me tell you why it is we distrust you." While extremely frank, this statement offered them a new relationship with the U.S. built on trust.

Gorbachev tried his best to negotiate away SDI, particularly in Reykjavik the following year, but Reagan held firm. With the prospect of American development of SDI, the Soviets knew they could not win the Cold War, and began considering the peaceful alternative Reagan offered.

And so, the Soviet Union passed into history. By making friends of former enemies, Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. Never before in world history has such seismic realignment of nations occurred without great bloodshed. This is why Ronald Reagan will be remembered as one of the great presidents of all time.

Reagan's presidency was not spotless, however. The Iran-contra scandal and the huge foreign and domestic debts blemished his administration. Yet, these issues now seem inconsequential. His accomplishments are what affect our lives today.

We remember Reagan as a man of courage and optimism, humor and charm, character and conviction. He made it fashionable again to believe in America's greatness. He called evil by its name, and overcame it with good. He was a providential man who came along just when we most needed him.


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Copyright 2000-2007, Jeff Lukens