Jack Kemp

So much has been written and broadcasted about the life and politics of Ronald Reagan since his death on Saturday that it is hard to imagine anything else left to say about his legacy. Even the Reagan Revolution in tax and economic policy, with which I was so closely involved, seems thoroughly covered at this point, although it still remains a mystery to the left.

In reflecting on what more to say about this great American, it struck me that notwithstanding their importance, it wasn't Reagan's wisdom, his wit, his courage, his vision or his skills at communicating that vision or his ability to lead the American people toward that vision that set him apart. It was his indefatigable optimism and an overflowing love for his fellow human beings - one in particular, his wife Nancy - that made Reagan who he was and were the underlying source of everything he accomplished.

No one could be around Reagan or hear him talk without being infected by his optimism and perceiving that genuine feeling of affection, care and concern for his fellow man. But it was Nancy Reagan who later revealed the source of his optimism and his love - his faith in God. It wasn't an ostentatious or self-absorbed faith that manifested itself in rigid certainty about matters of this Earth; it was a deep, abiding knowledge that we are all playing bit parts, albeit eternally important parts, on this earthly stage and being directed by a higher power. It was that certainty of faith that freed Reagan of hubris to be humble - meek in the true sense of the word - in his relations with other people, with other nations and in the decisions he made as president.

Nancy put it this way, "Ronnie has always been a very religious man. He has always believed that God has a plan for each of us and that while we might not understand his plan now, eventually we will." She also revealed in an unguarded comment about his love letters to her how Reagan's strong faith made it possible for him to lead others: "He often wrote to me of what was most important to him in spiritual terms, and I admired his faith, although I did not share the firmness of his convictions. I did, however, draw strength from his faith over the years - as did we all.

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com.
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