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Ronald Reagan: A Time for Choosing

Ronald Wilson Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan

A Time for Choosing
by Ronald Wilson Reagan
October 27, 1964

As timely today as it was 48 years ago.

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 capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
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But beyond that, “the full power of centralized government”—this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.
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For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.
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Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.
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No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.  Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.
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Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the—or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
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You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.  We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

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