Why did so many come to love and believe in him so much? As he humbly acknowledged in his Farewell Address, people nicknamed him the Great Communicator, but he felt what was really the case was that he was communicating great, time-tested ideas, which resonated as true. He noted they didn’t “spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries.”
One of those principles was a belief in free market capitalism and faith in the American people to build and create their own Field of Dreams rather than believing somehow the government might do it for them. It should be remembered that Reagan inherited an economy every bit as bad as Barack Obama’s and in some ways worse. Unemployment peaked at 10.8% after Reagan took office versus 10% under Obama with the added stresses of double-digit inflation and interest rates. Reagan won support for a basic plan of cutting tax rates across the board, limiting government spending and reducing regulations on businesses. His favorite President, Calvin Coolidge, had administered the same medicine to an ailing, recession bound economy in the 1920s, when Reagan was coming of age, and it worked like a charm.
Reagan exhorted as he took office in the early 1980s that it was "time to reawaken this industrial giant” of the American economy again. During Reagan’s two terms, the economy grew a third larger (that is the size of the entire economy of Germany). Unemployment dropped to under 5%, as the economy created over 19 million new jobs. Meanwhile, revenues to the Treasury doubled during his two terms, due to the tremendous economic growth. By this point in 1984, the Reagan economy was adding 360,000 jobs per month with a population of 85 million less than today. By way of contrast, Obama's added just 69,000 in May, 77,000 in April. The 4 million jobs Obama likes to brag about adding since he took office, Reagan’s economy added in the year 1984 alone.
It is little wonder a movie with the catch phrase, “If you build it, they will come” would hit theaters in the wake of the Reagan Presidency. Looking back on the decade in his Farewell Address, he said, “They called it the Reagan Revolution…but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense….[A]s long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours.”
I have no doubt his message would be the same for us today. It is not too late to rebuild the Field of Dreams.
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