Reclaiming Reagan: Win One for the Gipper

(’76 Contributor) It hurts me deeply to see good, hard working Americans struggling to find jobs. These Americans don’t want a penny from the government; they want a job. They want to experience the self worth and sense of accomplishment that comes with putting food on the table on one’s own accord, not on the forced benevolence of unknown taxpayers. They want to talk about their kids’ days, a family vacation, or the quintessential football family rivalry but it is apparent that family finances, how are we going to pay the bills, how are we going to send the kids to college, am I going to get laid off, have come to dominate dinner tables around our nation.

Editor: On this 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, we asked young Karthik Venkatraj, son of immigrants, Army officer, and currently a John Jay Fellow working at the Centennial Institute, for his thoughts on the legacy of the 40th president. He filed this heartfelt essay.

Our nation is hurting and her people are shouldering the hurt. Families around the nation are having to make tough choices, cut out any expenses that are not completely essential, hold on to their jobs, or begin the most arduous and taxing task of finding a job. Younger folks are struggling to find jobs after college or after graduate school. Worst of all, our nation’s children and their children are already mired in debt, after years of government spending and profligacy. Folks are hurting and our nation’s leaders are searching for solutions in an almost circuitous fashion.

What has come of our nation? Most Americans are in utter frustration mixed with disbelief to see our nation in this state.

This problem is far larger than conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, or any sort of party or political affiliation. Our nation and her people are crying out for leaders who care about her prosperity and perpetuity over that of their re–election. We are crying for principled leaders to make tough decisions to provide a better future for us and more importantly, our children. Each and everyone of us are making the tough choices, isn’t time for a government indicative of the decisions we have to make? Isn’t that the duty of our generation, to provide a better future for the next generation? I have been able to lead soldiers, who have deployed two or three times to make ends meet in their households. Is that the nation we aspire to be or do we seek to be that “shining city upon a hill”?

So we call on our legislators to follow through on their oath. But let us not predicate our hope on select men and women; rather, let us remember that our nation was constructed on the hard work and dedication of Americans moving together as one. As we come together as a nation to honor and celebrate President Reagan and his legacy, let us be reminded of the charge he gave to the American people of an exceptional nation.

Reagan was often referred to as the Great Communicator but in his farewell address, Reagan refuted this claim, stating: “I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation—from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.” And within this statement we find the key to our nation’s challenges—our timeless ideals embodied by the American people. It is why I am convinced that although my generation will face the greatest challenges our nation has witnessed since the post World War II era, we will also find our greatest triumphs.

It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and win one for the Gipper.

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