Individual Freedom

“Progress is not foreordained. The key is freedom—freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication…Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.”

Reagan’s core political and governmental philosophy was based on the founding principles of America embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. At the heart of his vision was a devotion to the uniquely American idea that government’s fundamental role was to protect individual freedom – each person’s God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For Reagan, protecting freedom meant encouraging free enterprise by lowering individual income tax rates and reducing government regulations at home, while challenging the enemies of freedom abroad through a restoration of U.S. military strength and moral courage. It also meant upholding the rule of law through the appointment of judicial nominees grounded in traditional interpretations of the Constitution and American and Western values. It meant promoting the importance of such values as self-reliance, religious freedom, private property rights and respect for the sanctity of every human life. Reagan, more than any contemporary leader, gave consistent uplifting voice to a comprehensive pro-freedom agenda.

Key Reagan Pro-Freedom Actions and Achievements

  • Pursued pro-freedom economic policies that restored robust growth and prosperity
  • Pursued pro-freedom foreign policies that liberated millions across the world
  • Promoted voluntary prayer amendment and invoked America’s religious heritage
  • Promoted human life amendment and pro-life policies throughout government
  • Promoted welfare reform, balanced budget amendment, tax limitation amendment
  • Promoted federalism and the virtues of the Tenth Amendment
  • Helped political and religious dissidents suffering persecution around the world
  • Made key pro-freedom judicial nominations, esp., e.g., Rehnquist, Scalia and Bork
  • Addressed the British Parliament (1982) on worldwide “forward strategy” for freedom
  • Addressed Moscow State University students (1988) extolling individual liberty

“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”
A Time for Choosing,” October 27, 1964

“Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe freely?”
Republican National Convention, Detroit, Michigan, July 17, 1980

“Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their
privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which ‘We the people’ tell the government what it is
allowed to do. ‘We the people’ are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I’ve tried to
do these past eight years.”
Farewell Address to the Nation, Oval Office, January 11, 1989

“Man is not free unless government is limited.”
Farewell Address to the Nation, Oval Office, January 11, 1989