Mr. Reagan would have never believed that in less than 20 years since he left office the United States would be slouching towards the goal of becoming Western Europe - debt-ridden with quasi-nationalization of key industries (see cars, student loans, banking, health care...), exploding social welfare spending, rising levels of regulations and the threat of punitive tax rates on the more productive people among us.
I have said many times in recent years that America is no longer Reagan's America but one where the Reagan years are to be looked at as a brief aberration as we stumble into the same ditch as the Romans. I have not shared in his optimism. I have not believed my own statements that we must have hope because we are the only nation whose reset button has the word "liberty" on it. I tell my students, and have prepared to tell my kids, that our country still has time to change its mind and turn this economic Titanic around. Yet, many times I think I say this only because I do not want to feel guilty for bringing children into a world where they will be poorer than I, only by virtue of being born while adult socialists made plans on how to ruin their chance for success.
Yet, once again, I am proven wrong and Reagan, the great sage is proven right. There are reasons to be hopeful even when all looks bleak.
Of course, one reason could be the 63 seats that the Republicans won in November promising to not act like a Bush Republican. Another could be found in Mr. Obama recently pushing for greater free trade with South Korea despite protests from unions, environmentalists and other groups who do not want to compete in the global economy. It is also somewhat encouraging to see Mr. Obama cave in on his promise to force tax rates up on high achievers. The coming two year extension of the Bush tax cuts, combined with the payroll tax cut, even if temporary, are also a temporary movement away from the Hope and Change idiocy that has been so pervasive in our country.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the decision of Judge Henry Hudson, who just yesterday ruled that Mr. Obama's health care legislation requiring all of us to engage in commerce - by force - is unconstitutional. We may now see the implosion of the criminally suffocating health care legislation that promised to hurt businesses and individuals everywhere.
Somewhere, Mr. Reagan is probably smiling that sly smile of his and saying, "I wonder why people were so frantic over the past couple of years. Don't they know that Americans always change their minds when they come to believe that government is the problem, rather than the solution to what ails us?"
Bit by bit perhaps his reason for optimism is being woven back into the fabric of what makes our nation unique. I for one plan to do more sewing in the near future. After all, if Mr. Reagan could have hope when times suggested there should be none, the least I can do is have hope when current times suggest there is little.