02.21.2012 0

Reagan’s Assault on Big Government at Home and the “Evil Empire” Abroad Should be Studied by Republican Presidential Candidates

Ronald Reagan

Photo Credit: edalisse/Flickr

By Kevin Mooney — Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” speech delivered on March 8, 1983 “re-moralized American foreign policy” and reversed and era of détente in foreign policy that had given the advantage to the Soviet Union, Prof. Paul Kengor of Grove City College explained during an interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG) at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Kengor, who is also a prominent Reagan biographer, said the speech had tremendous reverberations. It put the Soviet Empire back on its heels and help shifted the Cold War back in America’s favor.

The “evil empire” speech was delivered on March 8, 1983 and just a few weeks later on March 23 Reagan announced the “Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

“Reagan used his voice as weapon,” Kengor explained. “He destroyed this whole idea that there was somehow a moral equivalence to both sides and it made it plain and clear that America’s struggle against Soviet expansionism and Soviet communism was a just cause.

The same U.S. State Department officials who tried to strike out the “Tear Down this Wall” comment from Reagan’s 1987 Berlin Wall address, were also scandalized by the “Evil Empire” speech.

Kengor served as the moderator for a panel entitled “Rendezvous  with Destiny: What Can We Learn from Ronald Reagan in 2012.” Craig Shirley, author of “Rendezvous with Destiny” and Steven Hayward, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), also took part in the discussion.

During his presentation, Shirley expressed concern that the Republican Party has divorced itself from the principles that propelled Reagan to victory and has instead embraced big government. He traces the turning back to 2000 when the Republican Party dropped the elimination of the Department of Education and other federal agencies as party principle.

“I wish that Reaganism was alive and well in the Republican Party, but it is not,” he said. “Conservatism is alive in the Tea Party.”

Hayward, who is also the author of “The Age of Reagan,” described Reagan as “the most constitutionally literate and the most economically literate” of all modern presidents.

All of the current Republican Party candidates could do a better job of studying and learning from the example Reagan set, Hayward said.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.

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