Someone asked recently, “Where have all the political leaders gone?” Oh, there are politicians and candidates, but are they leaders? They can impress their own party faithful, but can they work across the aisle to build consensus? They can spout party line and spin with the best of them, but can they connect with average citizens in a way that gets the message across in a fun way that’s both remembered and repeated.
Ronald Reagan would dish out criticism of Democrats during the day, but after 6 PM, the politics would stop, and you could find him swapping stories and laughing with the Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, the old-time Democratic politician from Massachusetts.
President Reagan was a leader. He kept hope alive. He didn’t put his trust in politicians, but in the American people. The elite were troubled by his unrealistic optimism, his corny stories, and his humorous statements. But as a president, he connected with average citizens in a way that helped Americans believe in themselves.
Dan Rather, the former CBS News Anchor, talked about him as a master storyteller: “The literal-minded were forever troubled by his tendency to sometimes confuse life with the movies. But he understood, like very few leaders before or since, the power of myth and storytelling. In his films and his political life, Ronald Reagan stood at the intersection where dreams and reality meet, and with a wink and a one-liner, always held out hope for a happy ending.”
He laced his engaging stories with a “phrase that pays.” A good leader knows the power of an impactful and memorable phrase. Charles Krauthhammer rightly acknowledged, “The sound bite is the ultimate in making every word tell. It is the very soul of compactness. Brevity is not enough. You need weight. Hence some sound bites qualify for greatness: F.D.R’s ‘The only thing to fear is fear itself’ or Reagan’s ‘Tear down the wall.’”
As we approach this election season, it’s time to bring back some of those powerful statements that helped Reagan bring conservative values to life. I’ve taken the liberty to update a couple quotations where a parenthesis is added:
"Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence."
"Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them."
"A liberal is a politician who will spend your money to do their caring."
"Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets. It's time to stop giving them more!"
"Government's first duty is to protect the people and let them keep the fruits of their labors, not run their lives."
"We have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, America, the last best hope of man on earth."
"It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so."
"A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when the Democrats lose theirs."
"Trust, but verify."
"Weakness is provocative.”
"A liberal's view of a good economy is: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
"(After 6 years of Obama's transformation,) the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
"We don't have (an 18 trillion-dollar) debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have an exploding debt because we spend too much."
"The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."
It’s time to elect a few politicians who actually lead, leaders who can inspire and empower American citizens and businesses to invent a future we can all be proud of. What leaders do you see on America’s horizon?