The 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth is February 6. This anniversary has authors, writers, activists and any who have a political stake bringing up his name. The Gipper is back, for good and bad, for one more moment in the political discourse of the chattering class of our time.
Conservatives say, “if only he were here,” Liberals say, “if only he hadn’t,” and those in power imply, “if only you knew.” If only we knew just how much our current president is like Reagan, if only our president stopped acting like Reagan and if only our president thought like Reagan.
He never left.
As Craig Shirley, Reagan author/historian said of Reagan on Washington Post Live online;
As an historian, I focus on the facts. And the facts about Reagan make him one of America's four greatest presidents. But don't ask me, ask Ted Kennedy who gave Reagan all the credit for winning the Cold War, ask liberal historians John Patrick Diggings, who rated Rr as one of the four greatest because they all liberated many people (Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan) or liberal historian James MacGregor Burns, who put Reagan in the great or near great category.
Beyond the facts is what Reagan did best. He returned America to us and with America he gave us comfort. Comfort in who we were and were not. Comfort in the great experiment called the United States of America. Reagan gave us our identity back. The identity we knew in our hearts, but had seemed to have lost. The identity that made us good Americans. Made America good. The identity that made America the “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”
As long as America is America Ronald Reagan will be with us, for good and bad, for he still gives us enough comfort to voice our opinion of what America should be. Those who still oppose Reagan will use him to bolster their argument. Those who still support Reagan will use him to support their argument. Those desperate will use Reagan to compare or contrast themselves or their candidate to Reagan.
Mainly, there will people who will keep Reagan in their hearts as that to which America should strive to attain. It is comforting to do so.