A great man has passed. Not only was Ronald Reagan instrumental in reversing the tide of Marxist/Leninist totalitarianism in the twentieth century, but he, perhaps more than any other politician of the last sixty years, changed the course of political philosophy in the United States.
After Reagan, conservatism emerged as a philosophy of vigorous ideas and tremendous appeal for many who had grown up under the influence of the liberal orthodoxies of the sixties and seventies. After Reagan, liberalism was exposed as a philosophical Wizard of Oz, full of promise and good feeling but hollow inside. Bereft of any ideas that hadn't been discredited by human experience, bereft of political appeal, the only chance a liberal national candidate had, and still has, of being elected to office was to camouflage his liberalism, which is what Clinton did in 1992, perhaps a major reason why he was able to defeat George H.W. Bush.
The amiable, polite Reagan stood in sharp contrast to many of his detractors who, with few good ideas to offer, often substituted insults, mendacity, and aspersions in their place. Indeed, this mode of political discourse has been amplified in the intellectually barren precincts of the leftward end of the political spectrum, until it is virtually the only form of expression one hears from some of the key contemporary spokesmen of the secular left.
Reagan showed us a better way, a way based on courtesy and respect for one's domestic opponents, and strength against one's foreign foes. He was supremely confident in himself, his principles, and his cause, and that confidence was contagious. He was a beacon on a hill for many in a generation that had come of age amidst the chaos of the sixties and seventies and who had grown disillusioned with the social and moral revolutions of that era and with the impotence America seemed to unnecessarily project in the face of deadly challenges from our enemies abroad. He will long be remembered. Perhaps there's still enough room on Mt. Rushmore.