Category Archives: Lincoln

Reagan’s Legacy

In the “Good Old Days” Americans felt that we can do anything we put our minds to. The government, in Lincoln‘s immortal words, was “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Invoked at Gettysburg to justify for the Civil War – so “this Government, of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth” was the American ideal from FDR to Nixon; perhaps from Washington to Nixon.

We knew were the good guys. We won World War II, we defeated the Nazis, we were taking on the Soviets, and we knew we would win. When Kennedy said ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ he knew, we all knew, that if Eastern Europe was ruled from Moscow, we were threatened. We wanted to make the world a better place.

We landed on the moon. Not once, but six times between Apollo 11 landing in the Sea of Tranquility, Mare Tranquillitatis, on July 20, 1969 when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took that “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” and Apollo 17, in Taurus Tittrow, Dec. 11, 1972.[1]

But today our national ideal is the opposite. Today, rather than we can do anything, we believe that government is incapable of everything. Some people actually believe that NASA staged the moon landings. A Conservative pundit would say, “Brown was incompetent as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. How can you expect otherwise? He’s a government employee. Ditto for Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense.
President Reagan said “the 10 most frightening words are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”[2] If you hold this view, how can you run an agency like FEMA? How can you expect any response to a Katrina-like event other than the actual response to Katrina? How can you run the Department of Homeland Security? Or the Department of Defense? Or the Executive Branch?
Rather than “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” our government has become “of the special interests, by the special interests, and for the special interests.”

This is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Lenin would be pleased. Stalin would smile. And Putin is laughing.

[1] NASA. . See also Wikipedia, and other sites. For a good overview see the Universities Space Research Association, USRA. For great images, and sound,

[2] March 22, 1988, Remarks to state and local Republican officials on Federalism and Aid to the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance.

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Filed under Apollo 11, Kennedy, Lincoln, Ronald Reagan