Sen. Allard pays tribute to Ronald Reagan
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., delivered this tribute on the Senate floor this week.Some people have the capacity to change your life. For me, Ronald Reagan was one of those people.Ronald Reagan’s message of strengthening individual liberties, maintaining a strong national defense, cutting through the thicket of government regulations and lowering taxes inspired me to run for public office in the 1980s. He made me believe it is possible to bring about a change for the better. I first ran for the Colorado State Senate in 1982, the second year of Reagan’s presidency, and fought to pass resolutions there supporting the policies that the president advocated – such as the Balance Budget Amendment.I was a small business man. I operated a private veterinary practice. So Ronald Reagan’s vision of strengthening America’s small businesses, because they are the backbone of our economy and way of life, had a great deal of appeal. His belief in small government and in cutting taxes to allow people to decide how best to spend their own money have been two of my guiding principles since I was first elected to public office. I believe him to be the father of the modern Republican Party.My wife Joan and I never had the opportunity to meet Ronald Reagan until he came to Colorado in 1988. Talking to him one on one was an emotional high point of my life. We smiled all the way back home to Loveland. I have kept his picture hanging in my office – first in the U.S. House of Representatives, and now in the Senate – ever since.It’s hard to describe to young people, who live in our vibrant economy and confident culture, just how unsure and discouraged Americans were in the late 1970s. Everything that could go wrong, had. America seemed to be shrinking before our eyes: Those in charge of our government had apparently given up on winning the Cold War. The Soviet Union loomed dangerous, and, we were told, invincible. We were being admonished to get used to a dysfunctional economy that combined high inflation with low growth, a demoralized military, an ever-more intrusive and intruding government, a depressed and depressing spiritual malaise that left many in doubt about our most fundamental values. No one offered a way out.Ronald Reagan’s fresh voice of optimism was like manna to our hungry spirits.He talked about how our idling economy could regain its formidable power. He talked about how great our country was – and how much greater it could be. He talked about facing down our foes, and our fears. He talked about restoring American pride and patriotism. He, more than any other individual in the second half of the 20th Century, brought America back from the brink of self-imposed defeat and despair. He made us proud once more …In the past 15 years or so, the United States has decisively fought and won two significant wars. The keys to those victories were highly motivated and skilled combat personnel fighting with unmatched military equipment and employing unprecedented tactics.How did this renewed and reinvigorated American military might come about? Let’s look back to Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican nominating convention. As only The Great Communicator could, he laid out his vision for us with not only clarity, but with a conviction that rings true and is still good counsel today.He said, “We are awed – and rightly so – by the forces of destruction at loose in the world in this nuclear era. But neither can we be naive or foolish … We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then tyrants are tempted.” A major accomplishment of President Reagan’s was the development of a credible, modern strategic deterrent. He reinvested in our strategic ballistic missile weapons inventories, modernized a complement of land, sea, and aircraft-based platforms to project our strategic force.This display of offensive force proved to be an effective deterrent, but President Reagan envisioned a world with far fewer of these destructive weapons, and pressed throughout his presidency for significant reductions of nuclear weapons. In 1983, President Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative in the hopes of one day rendering all such ballistic missile “impotent and obsolete.” Today we are building on his legacy by deploying strategic missile defenses and aggressively eliminating excessive nuclear stockpiles. President Reagan’s legacy to us, of a safer world, is one we must constantly guard and honor.There is no doubt that President Reagan was one of the greatest presidents of the modern era. A man of huge confidence and unwavering principle, he revived the American spirit, revitalized our economy and engineered the fall of communism. He changed the world for the better. We share his family’s grief, and keep them in our prayers.In his memory, let us re-commit ourselves to President Reagan’s goal of ensuring that America always remains the “bright, shining city on the hill.”
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