Happy birthday Gipper! Reagan and I share the same birthday. My beloved bride has the same birthday as FDR, January 30. My daughter’s birthday is February 9. This time of year is a good time for cake at the McClarey household!
It will come as little surprise to faithful readers of this blog, that I consider Ronald Reagan to be one of the great American presidents. My views on him are sent forth in this recent thread. He restored our prosperity and brought the Cold War to a successful conclusion. His radiant optimism was a tonic for the nation’s shaken morale. He deserves to be on Mount Rushmore if there were room.
It will perhaps stun faithful readers of this blog to learn that I have similar feelings for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Although I believe much of the New Deal was counterproductive and completely wrong-headed, FDR understood that raising the nation’s morale was absolutely critical. His sunny ebullient optimism, and his ringing phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” were just what the nation needed. His fireside chats, which Reagan emulated in his Saturday radio chats, were a brilliant stroke which helped forge a personal bond between FDR and much of the nation. (Although not my Republican shoemaker grandfather who remained impervious to the charms of FDR to his dying day!) During the war his leadership was masterful and greatly aided the US in winning in 3 and a half years a global conflict. Prosperity was restored to the US on his watch, although it was due to the War and not the New Deal.
Reagan was a supporter of FDR. He used to say he didn’t leave his party, his party left him. Looking at Reagan side by side with FDR, it is hard not to believe that Reagan learned many valuable leadership lessons from FDR.
Reagan and FDR were both ardent patriots with a deep love for this nation. Their optimism was based on their belief that the US could overcome its present difficulties and go forward to a brighter future. I find this personally appealing. Optimism and courage are necessary both in our lives here on Earth and in our spiritual lives. I have always agreed with Saint Francis, “Let gloom and despair be among the Devil and his disciples.”