I just finished watching a documentary entitled In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed. It showcases President Ronald Reagan’s battle against communism and the evils of statism. I don’t want to review the movie, but I do feel it necessary to reflect on the man on which it focuses.
What made Ronald Reagan a great man was not just his ability to communicate; though he surely excelled in that manner. Reagan was blessed with an ability to take what he felt and convey it to the American people in a way in which they could not only understand, but which they could also get behind and trust. Furthermore, his greatness should not be measured in his policies; though many of his policies were very good (while many were not so great.) What made Reagan great was his ability to stand on principle—to stake a heartfelt conviction and work toward what he believed was right.
Ronald Reagan saw the Cold War for what it was. It was more than a mere competition between competing ideologies. It was more than one economic system versus another. It was a battle of good versus evil. In saying this, I seek not to imply that “good” and “evil” people are not found in each system; truly they are. The point is that if we view freedom as good, then there is no better word than “evil” to describe statism. Never was the Cold War a war between peoples of the West and peoples of the East. Rather, it was a war between differing systems—one system focused on freedom and one focused on enslavement. Liberalism brought with it a commitment to inalienable rights, private property, and the individual. For communism the focus is corporatism, government dominance, and individual inferiority to the will of the state. There can be no common ground for these competing systems. In fact, for Reagan, communism wasn’t even a system; it was madness. It stood for everything free men stand against. This is not to say that Reagan desired to eradicate the communists around the world. Rather, he wanted to eradicate communism as a system.
We all know how the events played out. Reagan worked toward a strategic plan to starve the Soviet system as it traded guns for butter. Meanwhile, he worked to spread the message of freedom throughout the world, calling for the Soviets to dismantle their “evil empire” and for the people of the world to embrace liberty.
Reagan understood that within the heart of each man is a desire to be free. No government, no system, and no individual can take one’s right to freedom, if free men are unwilling to be enslaved. Reagan was one of these men. He would not sit idly by while freedom was subverted to a system. He spent his life dedicated to bringing freedom to the individual. Therefore, may we all share in his fervor for freedom. May our pursuit of liberty be unwavering not only for ourselves, but also for all mankind.