Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The recent political entanglements over the budget have focused more on political maneuverings and who is right about what statement, rather than what the policies mean to average, everyday Americans.

It might be standard politics, but it does not create the right framework. The right framework includes thinking about the impact to everyday Americans and to future generations of Americans. When our founders fought for freedom, they did so for future Americans as well as themselves.

Our nation has long led the world's fights for freedoms -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms. Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, laid out that we were free from the rule of monarchs and created a new form of government that, while frustrating, ensured that there would be no dictator.

This support for freedom has extended to other nations at times in our history, with varying results. Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy uttered the words "Ich bin ein Berliner" at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. This speech solidified our support for those in West Berlin and put the Soviet Union on notice that we would not turn our backs on the world.

U.S. foreign policy changed five months later, after Kennedy's assassination. The next four presidents maintained a period of detente. After Vietnam, the Carter administration pulled back U.S. forces from across the globe, while the Soviet Union became more aggressive. In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

Ronald Reagan's presidential win in 1980 led to a very different foreign policy, one based on strength rather than weakness. Reagan believed that Soviet communism could be and had to be defeated.

Forty years ago, Reagan delivered his "evil empire" speech to the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, in Orlando, Fla. "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged," was Reagan's moral argument.

He transformed the crisis to one of spiritual and moral faith rather than one of military strength. "The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith," he said.

Not content simply to define the crisis, Reagan also clearly defined our enemy at the time. "Let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world," he said.


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”.