Jackie Gingrich Cushman

This Sunday will mark the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan. Many will be celebrating his birth, his life, and the legacy he left our country and the conservative movement. To celebrate, take a few minutes to watch two of his speeches -- his 1964 speech in support of Barry Goldwater and his 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate -- and you will remember why Reagan was called the Great Communicator, and will notice how his message still resonates with us today.

Both of these Reagan speeches can be found on the Reagan Foundation's YouTube Channel and watched in less than an hour.

He closed his speech supporting Barry Goldwater for president with, "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny." Speaking as president 23 years later at the Brandenburg Gate, he challenged Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

His messages provided both inspiration and clarity.

Reagan rose to national prominence on Oct. 27, 1964, by delivering "The Speech," as it became known, in support of the Republican Party's presidential candidate. It was a big risk for the Goldwater campaign to have a little-known spokesman deliver the paid-for half-hour political speech.

The speech, which started with Reagan noting that he had spent most of his life as a Democrat, cited core conservative values: less government, more involvement by the people, less regulation, more personal responsibility. The foundation for Reagan's address had formed while he was a spokesman for General Electric's initiative to promote citizenship among employees.

Reagan clearly delineated who should be included and what was at stake:

"I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines," he said. "There is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down-- (up) man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."

Reagan was a uniter at heart. He believed that individuals rather than government should be in charge, he believed that conservatism was the way to solve our ills as a nation, noting, "A government can't control the economy without controlling people."

"This is the issue of this election," Reagan said. "Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."

This very clear articulation of two very different political philosophies is just as applicable today.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.