Again, a Time for Choosing: Rick Perry at the Reagan Library, October 27, 2014
“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 capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” —Ronald Reagan, in his “A Time for Choosing” speech, October 27, 1964
October 27, 2014, was the fifty-year anniversary of one of the ten most consequential speeches in American history, Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
To commemorate this auspicious occasion, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum staged an event featuring a speech by Governor Rick Perry of Texas, arguably the only chief executive anywhere in America today who has taken substantial action to protect the American public. Indeed, Governor Perry has sent national guard to the Texas border to stem the heavy flow over the US border of criminal illegal aliens and Islamic State terrorists; and he has taken proactive steps to get ahead of the curve on planning for the spread of Ebola, given the failure of the president to protect America from the influx of carriers of the deadly disease. And many see Governor Perry as a more-than-viable candidate for his party’s nomination to run for president in 2016.
Governor Perry Warms Up the Audience
Governor Perry immediately went about establishing a rapport with his audience by making a humorous comment: “It’s nice to be in California, even when I am not recruiting businesses.” He voiced his optimism that the GOP would take the Senate in the upcoming midterms, saying, “If Republicans finish strong, then this president is going to get a taste of checks and balances.” Loud applause ensued.
As Perry settled into a more serious tone, he made reference to the “inspiring words of President Reagan fifty years ago tonight.” Governor Perry quoted Reagan, maintaining that, although the nature of the threat has changed, “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.”
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Perry pointed out that many of today’s international stressors are not too different from the events that were in the news at the time of Reagan’s election to the presidency: Russian Cold-War-style behavior, extremists in Tehran, and Israel’s perpetual defense against terrorism. Added to all this, there is also a Chinese military build-up. “I wonder,” Perry continued, “if we are not once again inviting threats to our front door by hollowing out our military.” Governor Perry served in the US Air Force as a C-130 pilot, achieving the rank of captain. “But the nearest threat we now face is not foreign in nature, but from within. It is our own complacency. . . . We need confidence in our own values.”
With regard to the claims of Islamists that Islam is just a religion of peace, Perry stated, “We should not indulge that lie for one moment.” The governor then added that “[t]he rise of ISIS can be directly attributed to the neglect of the president,” and that the “inhumane acts” of ISIS are due to Obama’s political decisions.
Governor Perry, speaking with practical expertise and sobering conviction on economic matters, made this observation: “Our debt is colossal, as is our bureaucracy. . . . The recovery is weighed down by government, not aided by it.” Perry was determined that fixing all of this was doable, that the American economy is, by design, a robust engine of opportunity that need only be freed of excessive taxes, regulations, and unpredictability. “We need to start thinkin’ big again,” he drawled, relishing the taste of these words.
“Energy is a weapon,” Perry asserted, “and we need to have the largest arsenal.” Perry suggested that this arsenal of energy we have at our disposal should be deployed to help not only ourselves, but our allies as well. He appeared to take umbrage at the fact that the Obama Administration has been so slow to issue permits for drilling on government land, pointing out that energy alone could create enough jobs to lift America comfortably out of the recession, noting that we now have more oil at our disposal than Saudi Arabia or Russia.
Criticizing Obama’s neglect of Veterans Affairs, Perry said, “If you have any question about whether government-run healthcare works, ask a veteran.” Perry suggested that our veterans deserve only the best, and that big-government programs are not adequately up to the task. “The greatest problem of all [in America today] is that we don’t have the leadership [to deal with our crises]. The institutions of government are faltering, and Americans have lost faith. We have come to our own time of choosing.” Perry intimated that the “routine arrogance” of such agencies as the IRS and the NSA is destroying trust in government, by setting America on a path of regulating and controlling free enterprise right out of existence.
A Belief in Exceptionalism
Perry said that he trusted the American people to “meet the threats only we can meet; deter the threats that only we can deter; and lead as only America can lead.” So how does the governor know that Americans are up to the challenges which lie ahead? Because Americans called Texans have been able to solve challenging problems, especially economic ones. Perry said that, in Texas, tax burdens for businesses are low and state income tax is non-existent. “Capital moves,” Perry emphasized, “and capital moves to where it is welcome.” From December 2007 to September 2014, Texas created 1.2 million jobs, while the rest of America lost 993,000 jobs, which means the case can be made that any economic growth that has occurred under Obama has been pretty much due to the efforts of one state.
“At most, [government] can only be a partner in our lives,” said Perry. “The larger our government grows, the smaller our circle of freedoms.” Indeed, Perry contended that the American economy is not only important to Americans, but to the world: “A vibrant America, with a strong economy, is central to world security.” But it will take a change in leadership, away from big-government solutions, to bring America back.
Preserving the Revolution
Governor Perry pointed out that, after Reagan gave his speech back in 1964, Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in forty-four states. But, sixteen years later, in 1980, Reagan’s ideas won in forty-four states. The great accomplishment of Ronald Reagan, according to Perry, was his rekindling of the ideals of the American Revolution. These are ideals that must be nourished and defended for America to continue to defend herself properly. And this much is true, if we are to believe Rick Perry: “As long as we continue to defend her, America will continue to offer hope to the world.”
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