"A Time For Choosing," the campaign speech for Barry Goldwater given 50 years ago today by then Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan is historic in the sense that it launched the political career of a man who became President 16 years later. However, what makes this speech great is that Reagan's words in his nationwide political debut have stood the test of time, and are as true today as they were back in 1964.
Why is that, you may say?
Consider these excerpts from Reagan's speech and think of what we face today, in 2014.
"I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines."
"We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening."
"And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."
"You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down—[up] man's old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."
"But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"—this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose."
"Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things—we're never "for" anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.
"Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers.
"Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender.
"You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance.""
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."Watch the whole speech...
When he served as President from 1981 to 1989, Ronald Reagan reasserted the ideas this nation was founded upon, and showed all of America that conservative principles, when applied, actually work. He showed that the "peace through strength" he spoke of could topple the totalitarian Soviet Regime, and free millions enslaved by Communism.
But yet when he left office, the GOP began the march back to the Rockefeller, Nixon, and Ford "country club" image of not-so-big government too afraid to stand for much for fear of alienating voters, while the Democrat Party has gone even further Left, willing to seize economic freedom, freedom of thought and worship, in addition to acting as apologists for criminals and terrorist regimes who've attacked America.
Which is exactly why those words Ronald Reagan spoke 50 years ago are just as important today.