In 2001, Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson edited a superb book that all friends of freedom, and of President Ronald Reagan, should read. Titled Reagan in His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America, it published a selection of Reagan’s daily radio broadcasts between 1975 and 1979.
Reagan composed and wrote these broadcasts himself, and the book reproduces them just as he wrote them. They provide indisputable proof that Reagan gave lengthy, serious thought to the major issues of the day, that he had a clear and consistent vision for America and the world, and that he was a wide reader and a hard worker. Anyone who doubts this should try writing over a thousand radio scripts – and much else – in four years.
All of Reagan’s scripts are worth reading. But this 4th of July, one is particularly appropriate. In a broadcast on September 21, 1976, “The Hope of Mankind,” Reagan returned to one of his favorite themes. As the editors put it, “Reagan believed . . . that America is unique among nations – ‘the hope of mankind.’ He felt we had a duty to protect what we had inherited. . . . In these essays, . . . the guiding star is always individual liberty, how lucky we are to have it, and how to preserve and protect it.”
To that end, Reagan quoted Ferdinand Mount. Mount later ran the Policy Unit in Number 10 Downing Street for Margaret Thatcher in 1982-83, and wrote the tremendously successful Conservative manifesto for the 1983 general election, when Lady Thatcher won her most smashing victory. On July 5, 1976, Mount wrote a memorable column for the Daily Mail. Here, as quoted by Reagan, is what Mount thought it important to say, that day after the 200th 4th of July:
What the world needs now is more Americans. The U.S. is the first nation on earth deliberately dedicated to letting people choose what they want and giving them a chance to get it. For all its terrible faults, in one sense America is still the last, best hope of mankind, because it spells out so vividly the kind of happiness which most people actually want, regardless of what they are told they ought to want. We criticize, copy, patronize, idolize insult but we never doubt that the U.S. has a unique position in the history of human hopes. For it is the only nation founded solely on a moral dream. A part of our own future is tied up in it and the greatest of all the gifts the Americans have given us is hope.
Reagan closed with three sentences of his own: “Thank you Mr. Mount – we needed that. This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.” Thanks indeed – to Mount, to our friends around the world, and to President Reagan for recalling their faith, and the faith of the Founding Fathers that inspired us all.