The Brooklyn Young Republican Club Wishes A Happy 102nd Birthday To President Reagan.

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I can honestly say that the days of Ronald Reagan’s presidency were by far the greatest of my life. Admittedly, I was not born until late in his first term, and it would be a good eight or nine years before I grasped the nuances of presidential politics; but, all joking aside, when I made the decision early in life that I was a Republican, it was Ronald Reagan’s legacy as a leader and defender of American values that made me proud to be one. Today would have been President Reagan’s 102nd birthday, and it is an excellent occasion – as our nation faces problems on a scale of those tackled by our 40th president – to reflect on who he was as a president and as a leader of our party.

Ronald Reagan took an unlikely route to becoming a conservative icon and a transformative president; he once identified as a New Deal Democrat, was governor of a famously liberal state, and for several years during his career before politics, was the leader of a labor union. Perhaps it was his varied career that provided him with the perspective to be successful in politics and, during the 1950s and 60s, emerge as a conservative leader during a time of strong leftism.

It would be difficult to understand Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 without looking back to the presidential election of 1964; then, as now, it seemed as if a liberal president had such enormous political clout that conservative ideas would not be given a fair hearing. Reagan increased his national profile when he supported the principled campaign of Barry Goldwater during very tough times for our party. It took several more years of liberal dominance in Washington, D.C. before the electorate, sick of failed liberal policies (as well as the sight of Americans held hostage in Iran) handed Reagan first a solid victory in 1980, and then an overwhelming one in 1984.

Today, people all over the political spectrum remember President Reagan as a strong and decisive leader who they try to emulate; Time magazine in 2011 described the 44th president – whose political leanings and, some would argue, leadership ability, are not Reaganesque – as an admirer of the 40th, even considering him a “role model.”

Perhaps the most meaningful indication of Reagan’s legacy is how he is remembered in the formerly Soviet-dominated states of eastern Europe. While the Soviet threat was well known to people all over the world, it was the millions of people in lands conquered by Stalin who most desperately longed for freedom, and the statues of Reagan that today stand in the capitals of Poland, Hungary, Georgia, and other nations are a tangible reminder of the challenge to “tear down this wall!”

While academics may debate the causes of the collapse of communism and the triumph of the American-led nations of the free world, one figure towers over all others in the history of the twentieth century. On the 102nd anniversary of his birth, we can be especially proud today of being members of the Party of Reagan.

By Paul Hanson

Member of the Board of Directors

Brooklyn Young Republican Club

Going Strong Since 1880.

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