Her successor called her a “true force of nature.” President Ronald Reagan labeled her “a tower of strength.” Her enemies called her the “Iron Lady,” a moniker that became ultimately the proud legacy of former British Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who passed away earlier this week.
When Thatcher first took office as British Prime Minister in 1979, much of the western world -- and especially her own country -- was gripped by deep turmoil and uncertainty; a “malaise” as former President Jimmy Carter called it. The Soviet Union still wielded considerable influence in countries on several continents. Yet, during her three terms as Prime Minister, spanning the entire decade of the 1980s, Thatcher helped lead Britain out of its decline, and contributed to ushering in an era of conservative reforms -- not just in the U.K., but across the world as well, including in the United States.
Thatcher proved to the world and to history that a nation which had been brought to its knees by labor greed and ultra-liberal social policies, could rise from the ashes and rebuild itself on a foundation of fiscal conservatism and anti-communism.
Side-by-side with President Ronald Reagan, her contemporary in office, Thatcher’s strength of principle and steadfast character led the fight --ultimately successful -- to defeat the “Evil Empire,” which enslaved hundreds of millions of people for nearly seven decades.
Her reputation as an uncompromising stalwart of human freedom resonated with Reagan. They became inseparable allies in the fight to rid the world of communism and restore freedom across the globe. Together, their unprecedented (and yet to be replicated) relationship helped transform the world in one of the most divisive eras in modern history. “Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism,” former First Lady Nancy Reagan wrote following Thatcher’s death on Monday; adding, “the world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy.”
Yet, it was not just her commitment to freedom that defines Thatcher; rather, it was who Thatcher was as a person, and a politician, which made that commitment so remarkable. She was strong. She was principled. And, perhaps most of all, she was consistent. She first earned the nickname the “Iron Lady” from a Soviet newspaper -- a testament to her unflinching, ironclad dedication to her mission of restoring liberty.
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