Ronald Wilson Reagan Quotes

In America, our origins matter less than our destination, and that is what democracy is all about.

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I'm not running for the presidency because I believe that I can solve the problems we've discussed tonight. I believe the people of this country can.

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There isn't any problem we can't solve if government will give us the facts. Tell us what needs to be done. Then, get out of the way and let us have at it.

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America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, "You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk." But then he added, "Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American."

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What makes you think I'd be happy about that?

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I think it's time we got mad and Mr. Gorbachev tried to get on our good side.

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You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.

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The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West will not contain communism, it will transcend communism. We will not bother to denounce it. We'll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

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If communism is the wave of the future, why do you still need walls to keep people in and armies of secret police to keep them quiet?

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How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

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If the Congress wants to bring the Panamanian economy to its knees, why doesn't it just go down there and run it?

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When you're outnumbered and surrounded and someone yells "charge", you don't have to ask which direction. Any way you're facing, you'll find a target.

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I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: "freedom of assembly" and "freedom of speech" and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions - everyone has one - and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple - that's why you don't notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, "We, the government, allow the people the following rights," and our Constitution says "We, the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights."

We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that's the whole story of the difference - why we're unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we're going to overcome.

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Today's hard-liner on law and order is yesterday's liberal who was mugged last night.

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I don't think that making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain guns will lower the crime rate - not when the criminals will always find a way to get them.

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The most fundamental paradox is that, if we're never to use force, we must be prepared to use it and to use it successfully. We Americans don't want war, and we don't start fights. We don't maintain a strong military force to conquer or coerce others. The purpose of our military is simple and straightforward: we want to prevent war by deterring others from the aggression that causes war. If our efforts are successful, we will have peace and never be forced into battle. There will never be a need to fire a single shot. That's the paradox of deterrence.

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None of the four wars in my lifetime came about because we were too strong. It is weakness that invites adventurous adversaries to make mistaken judgments. America is the most peaceful, least warlike nation in modern history. We are not the cause of all the ills of the world. We're a patient and generous people. But for the sake of our freedom and that of others, we cannot permit our reserve to be confused with a lack of resolve.

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They do not fear the United States for its diplomatic skills or the number of automobiles and software programs it produces. They respect only the firepower of our tanks, planes, and helicopter gunships.

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The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a "people's democracy." It's the same as the difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.

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They [Democrats] are the same people who rediscover poverty every election and promise to cure it. They've cured it so often that they've now made a profession of it. They thrive on failures, on righting wrongs, on aiding victims, and so forth. It must be understood that success in those tasks would put them out of business. No matter how many programs are set up and operating, their proponents never claim success for them. To do so would be to say the problems have been solved, meaning the programs are no longer needed. And the programs, not the problems, are their very reason for being.

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We could say [Democrats] spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their own money.

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St. Thomas Aquinas warned teachers they must never dig a ditch in front of a student that they failed to fill in. To raise doubts and to ever seek and never find is to be in opposition to education and progress. To discuss freely all sides of all questions without values is to ensure the creation of a generation of uninformed and talkative minds.

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In America we created at the local level and administered at the local level for many years the greatest public school system in the world. Now through something called federal aid to education, we have something called federal interference, and education has been the loser. Quality has declined as federal intervention has increased.

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Families cannot prosper and keep America strong if government becomes a Goliath that preys upon their wealth, usurps their rights, and crushes their spirit.

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We defend freedom here or it is gone. There is no place for us to run, only to make a stand. And if we fail, I think we face telling our children, and our children's children, what it was we found more precious than freedom. Because I am sure that someday - if we fail in this - there will be a generation that will ask.

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As government expands, liberty contracts.

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We were meant to be masters of destiny, not victims of fate.

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Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

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Government is like a baby - an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

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For three decades now we have sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan...Well, now if government and welfare had the answer - and they've had almost thirty years of it - shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? And the reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true.

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Outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

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There are many well-meaning people today who work at placing an economic floor beneath all of us so that no one shall exist below a certain level or standard of living, and certainly we don't quarrel with this. But look more closely and you may find that all too often these well-meaning people are building a ceiling above which no one shall be permitted to climb. Between the two, they are pressing us all into conformity, into a world of standardized mediocrity.

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It has been pointed out that the days of democracy are numbered once the belly takes command of the head. When the less affluent feel the urge to break a commandment and begin to covet that which their more affluent neighbors possess, they are tempted to use their votes to obtain instant satisfaction. Then equal opportunity at the starting line becomes an extended guarantee of at least a tie at the finish of the race. Under the euphamism "the greatest good for the greatest number," we destroy a system which has accomplished just that and move toward the managed economy which strangles freedom and mortgages generations yet to come.

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Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere.

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There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.

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No government at any level and for any price can afford the police necessary to assure our safety and our freedom unless the overwhelming majority of us are guided by an inner personal code of morality.

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Professional politicians like to talk about the value of experience in government. Nuts! The only experience you gain in politics is how to be political.

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Free enterprise has done more to reduce poverty than all the government programs dreamed up by Democrats.

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My friends, some years ago the federal government declared war on poverty - and poverty won.

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I've noticed that everybody who is for abortion has already been born.

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Confiscatory taxes bear a Democratic trademark. Since the inception of the federal income tax in 1914, it has been increased thirteen times under Democratic administrations. It has been reduced eight times under Republican administrations.

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Nations crumble from within when the citizenry asks of government those things which the citizenry might better provide for itself.

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Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.

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I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.

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Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.

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Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

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Wouldn't it be better for the human spirit and for the soul of this nation to encourage people to accept more responsibility to care for one another, rather than leaving those tasks to paid bureaucrats?

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