“A time for choosing.” So perfectly true, nearly 50 years later.

It’s a weekend. This is the fastest 27 minutes you will experience. Seriously: it flies by.

If you have never watched/listened to Ronald Reagan’s 1964 GOP convention speech you absolutely must. If you have, do it again.

Truly terrifying how much more accurate an assessment his speech is nearly 50 years later than it was even in its day. At that point, the most fearsome Socialist menace was the USSR—a foreign power. Today, it is our own president and his party. LBJ and the socialists of the ’60s only dreamed of the steps toward socialism that Obama and his Democrat comrades have imposed.

Think: In 1964 Social Security was a quaint $290 billion in the hole, and even then conservatives were clamoring for it to be reformed while liberals were claiming all we needed to do was raise taxes to “bail it out.”

The hits keep on coming in this speech. I transcribed a few of them as I was listening, but for your own sake, listen carefully to the whole thing. My transcribed snippets, followed by the full video:

“No nation in history has ever surivived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today thirty-seven cents out of every dollar earned is the tax collector’s share. And yet our government continues to spend $17 million a day more than the government takes in.”

“We’ve raised our debt ceiling three times in the last year.”

“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 capital, can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

“The profit motive has become outmoded; it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state.”

“Liberalism: ‘Meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government.'”

“A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know that when a government sets out to do that it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.”

On the farm economy, he shows how government engineering was ruining the part it controlled and sought to control all of it.

“When the government tells you you’re depressed, lie down and be depressed.”

“If government planning and welfare had the answer, and they’ve had almost 30 years [now almost 80] of it, shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us one in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline in the number of people needing help? The reduction each year in the need for housing? But the reverse is true: each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater.”

“Now we’re told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending 10-times greater than it was in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending $45 billion on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic and you’ll find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families, we’d be able to give each family $4,600 a year. And this, added to their present income, should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.”

He told the story of a woman who sought a divorce and under questioning by the judge she revealed it was because her working husband only made $250 per month, but she could get $330 per month on Aid to Families with Dependent Children if she were not married.

“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

“Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.”

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last, best hope for man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into 1,000 years of darkness.”



  • Jorge Huaman

    The Reagan of 1964 sounds a lot like the Ron Paul of the last 40 years.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Except Reagan never allowed racist, and anti-Israel language printed under his name and was far from Paul on foreign policy and war. Apart from those I’m sure you’re spot-on.

  • Jose

    Awesome speech and you’re right hauntingly eerie and relevant for today too!


    Dear Tom~ I liked Reagan’s style and loved his foreign policy (though, had his Star Wars brinksmanship gone sideways God help us.) However,
    Re:”…she could get $330 per month on Aid to Families with Dependent Children if she were not married.” in 1973 my wife and I were in grad school with no money and unplanned pregnancy. We got AFDC. Maybe the program was different in 1964, but I suspect that Reagan bought into an urban myth. It’s kind of like “I saw a Black woman come out of the welfare office and get into her new Cadillac. I followed her to a liquor store where she bought a case of booze, etc. etc.” ~~Pax tecum, Greg



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