Five years and three days ago, Ronald Reagan died. His public life came to an end 11 years before that. But his legacy still endures, despite the current president's efforts to defenestrate it. Here is the importance of Reagan:
[The 1970s] was the era of “détente”, a word barely remembered now, which is just as well, as it reflects poorly on us: the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the free world had decided that the unfree world was not a prison ruled by a murderous ideology that had to be defeated but merely an alternative lifestyle that had to be accommodated. Under cover of “détente”, the Soviets gobbled up more and more real estate across the planet, from Ethiopia to Grenada. Nonetheless, it wasn’t just the usual suspects who subscribed to this grubby evasion – Helmut Schmidt, Pierre Trudeau, Francois Mitterand – but most of the so-called “conservatives”, too – Ted Heath, Giscard d’Estaing, Gerald Ford.
And Reagan confounded those, like his misbegotten "biographer" Edmund Morris, who could not understand that certain evils had to be confronted, not cozened.
“The Great Communicator” was effective because what he was communicating was self-evident to all but our dessicated elites: “We are a nation that has a government - not the other way around.” And at the end of a grim, grey decade - Vietnam, Watergate, energy crises, Iranian hostages – Americans decided they wanted a President who looked like the nation, not like its failed government. Thanks to his clarity, around the world, governments that had nations have been replaced by nations that have governments. Most of the Warsaw Pact countries are now members of Nato, with free markets and freely elected parliaments.
The paramount success for the sportscaster, actor, governor of California and President is that he succeeded in ultimately making unfree people free.
Unlike [Heath, Ford, d'Estaing, et al.], unlike most other senior Republicans, Ronald Reagan saw Soviet Communism for what it was: a great evil. Millions of Europeans across half a continent from Poland to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Latvia live in freedom today because he acknowledged that simple truth when the rest of the political class was tying itself in knots trying to pretend otherwise. That’s what counts. He brought down the “evil empire”, and all the rest is fine print.