A Time for Choosing

Now that the election is over, and Barack Obama has won a historic presidential victory, I want to remind Oregon Catalyst readers and Cascade Policy Institute supporters that the time for thoughtful policy discussion hasn’t ended, it’s just moving into a new phase.

Obama gave some eloquent speeches during this campaign, yet by my reckoning he didn’t set the standard for modern-day political eloquence — or relevance. That mark was set 44 years ago when Ronald Reagan spoke for 27 minutes on behalf of ill-fated presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

However you view yesterday’s election results, from the presidency on down, remember that we’ve been this way before. And, we’re still here.

So take a step back from the current political scene, and watch Ronald Reagan give what has become known simply as The Speech:

Ronald Reagan
A Time for Choosing (aka “The Speech”)
Air date 27 October 1964, Los Angeles, CA
including video, mp3 audio and written transcript


Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market research center.

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Posted by at 05:55 | Posted in Measure 37 | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • dean

    Steve….the relevance of Obama’s speech won’t be known for a while. It depends on how he governs, and the success or failures of the policies he is able to get passed and implemented.

    For conservatives, I know you don’t fancy my advice, but it is to regroup by thinking forward, not backward. Roosevelt never returned from the grave for my side, and Reagan won’t for your side.

    I think Democrats began to get our sea legs when Clinton became a pragmatic centrist after losing Congress in 94. The sooner conservatives rediscover pragmatism (e.g. what works, not what feels good) the better your prospects. Both Roosevelt and Reagan governed more as pragmatists than as ideologues.

  • Jack Roberts

    I remember watching this speech on TV while sitting on the floor of our family room when I was 12 years old. I was a big Goldwater fan (the only one in my family for Goldwater before the convention–I know, I was a weird kid) and I thought it was the best speech I ever heard.

    I was a Reagan fan from then on, wrote my first letter to the editor four years later supporting the draft Reagan effort in 1968. I supported Reagan over Ford in 1976 and reveled in those great victories of 1980 and 1984.

    I still considered that ’64 speech as the highlight, however, and finally bought a VHS tape of it around 1990. I later bought a second copy as a back-up. It remains one of my most prized possessions.

    Thanks for bringing back fond memories, Steve. This is a particularly appropriate time for them.

    • Steve Buckstein

      Jack, you’re very welcome for reminding you of the memories. I’m glad to know that you were a Reagan and Goldwater fan before I was. I was in high school and was not a Goldwater fan in ’64, but I am now.

      As Dean tells us above, neither Roosevelt nor Reagan are coming back from the grave, but that’s not the point. Men’s philosophies don’t die with them. They continue on, and those of us who recognize the eternal value of the limited government, free market philosophy owe it to ourselves and our posterity to carry it on and work to bring it to ascendency again.

      • dean

        The “free market” and “socialism” in my view are yin and yan. They are both necessary to each other by preventing excesses. Reagan and Roosevelt are good representations of these competing yet mutually dependent political philosophies who had successful presidencies. Obama is clearly more a Roosevelt than a Reagan, and if he governs pragmatically may be remembered as fondly as these 2 are by their respective sides.

        Where we get into trouble is when we think we can have all yin or all yan without the balancing of the other.

  • Anonymous

    The “free market” and “socialism” in my view are yin and yan.

    I thought it was more like
    freedom, success and failure,and taxation

  • Bono

    This was a tough bleak week, thank you so much Steve for the encouragement. It was a nice touch.

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