Peggy  Venable

Ronald Reagan was born Feb 6, 1911.

This week marks the 102nd anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. It provides a time to reflect on the leader and on his vision for America.

A former Democrat turned Republican, he had led a labor union and as an actor was an unlikely Presidential candidate when he first ran for President in 1976 against then-President Ford. He was not the typical Republican and frankly rocked the Republican establishment.

But he eloquently articulated optimism for our country and a vision which garnered the support of voters from both parties as well as citizens who didn’t align themselves with politicians.

As we mark this anniversary, the Texas legislature is just getting started rolling up their sleeves, setting a course for the next two years in the Lone Star State.

Will Reagan’s vision be shared by state lawmakers?

In a 1987 speech, Reagan spoke of four principles of economic freedom. Those four freedoms are the freedom to work, the freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, the freedom to own and control one's property and the freedom to participate in a free market.

These four principles were fundamental in the building of this country, yet they have been under attack long before Reagan went into office and are all the more so today.

While our nation’s leaders are dealing with deficit spending and an ever-growing federal government, Texas, with its incorporation of Reagan’s four principles, stands in stark contrast.

Texas leaders have embraced lower taxes, less government spending, common-sense regulations, a legal system which discourages frivolous lawsuits and private property rights. These policies have helped Texas attract new residents and businesses.

That has resulted in Texas leading the nation in job creation which in turn results in greater creativity, innovation, and prosperity. Although it may seem easier to provide government assistance than to encourage the risks inherent in private enterprise, we must remember that without liberty -- especially economic liberty -- there is little prosperity.

While Ronald Reagan would likely see Texas as an example of that shining city on the hill, it is incumbent upon us to continue the policies that have created prosperity in Texas.

He did not view government as the answer to solving problems, but worked to get government out of the way and allow the private sector to thrive. In doing so, jobs are created and more citizens have the opportunity to prosper.

Prosperity can come about only when we enjoy economic freedom and that freedom leads to prosperity.

Has Texas become the nation’s example of that shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan often referred to?

And will the Texas legislature spend these 140 days protecting economic freedom or will policy and politics get marred in efforts to make government all things to all people?

The Texas culture is one of independence and we aren’t shy about bragging. After all, it isn’t bragging if it is true.

Ronald Reagan embraced the concept of American Exceptionalism, as does Governor Perry. It is a recognition and appreciation of the unique system of government we enjoy. We do not work for government, but government works for us.

In his State of the State speech last week, Perry referred to Texas as not merely strong, but exceptional.

Gov. Perry is right. Texas is a testament to the power of freedom, to the entrepreneurial spirit unleashed from government interference. Texas embraces a "can do culture" for every citizen willing to work hard and pursue a dream.

That dream is the American Dream which Ronald Reagan so often referred. Gov. Perry laced that theme into his speech last week and it is in many of the policies that Texas leaders have embraced.

Economic freedom is the best antidote to poverty. That’s very Reaganesque. That’s also very much the Texas spirit.


Peggy Venable

Peggy Venable is Texas Director for Americans for Prosperity, the premier grassroots organization in the country. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has over 2 million activists committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process