Her successor called her a “true force of nature.” President Ronald Reagan labeled her “a tower of strength.” Her enemies called her the “Iron Lady,” a moniker that became ultimately the proud legacy of former British Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who passed away earlier this week.
When Thatcher first took office as British Prime Minister in 1979, much of the western world -- and especially her own country -- was gripped by deep turmoil and uncertainty; a “malaise” as former President Jimmy Carter called it. The Soviet Union still wielded considerable influence in countries on several continents. Yet, during her three terms as Prime Minister, spanning the entire decade of the 1980s, Thatcher helped lead Britain out of its decline, and contributed to ushering in an era of conservative reforms -- not just in the U.K., but across the world as well, including in the United States.
Thatcher proved to the world and to history that a nation which had been brought to its knees by labor greed and ultra-liberal social policies, could rise from the ashes and rebuild itself on a foundation of fiscal conservatism and anti-communism.
Side-by-side with President Ronald Reagan, her contemporary in office, Thatcher’s strength of principle and steadfast character led the fight --ultimately successful -- to defeat the “Evil Empire,” which enslaved hundreds of millions of people for nearly seven decades.
Her reputation as an uncompromising stalwart of human freedom resonated with Reagan. They became inseparable allies in the fight to rid the world of communism and restore freedom across the globe. Together, their unprecedented (and yet to be replicated) relationship helped transform the world in one of the most divisive eras in modern history. “Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism,” former First Lady Nancy Reagan wrote following Thatcher’s death on Monday; adding, “the world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy.”
Yet, it was not just her commitment to freedom that defines Thatcher; rather, it was who Thatcher was as a person, and a politician, which made that commitment so remarkable. She was strong. She was principled. And, perhaps most of all, she was consistent. She first earned the nickname the “Iron Lady” from a Soviet newspaper -- a testament to her unflinching, ironclad dedication to her mission of restoring liberty.
It is Thatcher’s “iron” legacy that serves as a model for all politicians, but especially those who claim to carry the torch of freedom. Thatcher understood there could be no compromise in the fight for liberty; and she refused to walk a moderate line when that might have been the smoother path. “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides,” she once famously quipped. In Thatcher’s mind, liberty was not something for people to enjoy in moderation; it was their natural right, and no government should come between humans and their rights.
Today, we find ourselves immersed in an era of uncertainty and turmoil, much like that which welcomed Thatcher and Reagan as they took office more than three decades ago. We still battle foreign enemies trying to destroy the moral DNA that has made America the world’s beacon of liberty. Even within our borders we are fighting a similar battle against the toxic liberal philosophy of Big Government and Big Spending, which seeks to destroy the individual in favor of the State.
Now more than ever we need a renewed spirit of determination and commitment to liberty that came to define Thatcher both in life, and now after her passing. There is much today’s political leaders could learn from Thatcher; the key being an unwavering courage to always come down on the side of freedom -- economic and personal -- and never compromising in the face of the intimidation, the bullying, and the threats that still are the weapons of choice for the Left.
The world is undoubtedly a safer, freer place because Thatcher -- like Reagan -- refused to back down when it came to defending freedom. The light at the end of the tunnel is slightly closer as a result of their having been among us and led us when they did. It would be nearer still if leaders with their strength, their courage and their consistency were with us today.