It was 23 years ago this weekend, on June 12, 1987, that Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate, in West Berlin, and uttered perhaps the most important challenge of the 20th Century. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! … Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.”
You’ll remember he was roundly criticized for such directness. Everyone believed that the Soviet Union (and the Wall) were not only sturdy, but would be an international fixture for generations to come.
(A portion of President Reagan’s speech can be viewed here.)
Mr. Reagan was correct, the critics were wrong. That wall couldn’t withstand faith, truth and freedom, for it fell just seventeen months later. Within five years, there was no more Soviet Union. For indeed no mere wall — real or in the minds of men — can withstand the weight of truth and the power of liberty.
The modern conservative movement, founded by men like Reagan and Barry Goldwater, was based on the practical notion that the right ideas, held unabashedly, proclaimed loudly, and pursued doggedly, will carry the day.
Those right ideas are as powerful, and important, today as they have been at any time in our past. It is our job, in 2010 and beyond, to hold these ideas with commitment, to proclaim these ideas with passion, and to pursue these ideas because they are just.
The French economist and statesman, Frederic Bastiat, said as much back in the mid-19th Century. “Actually, what is the political struggle that we witness? It is the instinctive struggle of all people toward liberty.”
May the cause of liberty continue it’s advance!