It was 20 years ago today, on June 12, 1987, that Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate, in West Berlin, and uttered perhaps the most important words of the 20th Century.
He said, “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 that 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.
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 wall — real or in the minds of men — can withstand the sheer weight of truth.
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 of “individual liberty, personal responsibility and free markets“ are as powerful, and important, today as they have been at any time in our past. It is our job, in 2007 and beyond, to hold these ideas with commitment, to proclaim these ideas with passion, and to pursue them 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!