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Posted: February 6, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Harwell: Indeed, what would Ronald Reagan do?

Today is the late President Ronald Wilson Reagan’s 100th birthday.

If he was with us and healthy, I’d love to hear him summarize the Federal government’s current status.

"The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases," Reagan once said. "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

As Egypt descended into chaos last week, it was reminiscent of the outbreaks of violence in this country during the 1960s and ’70s: civil rights demonstrations, anti-Vietnam War marches, riots in the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the horrific Kent State incident when the National Guard fired into a crowd of student protestors, just to list a few.

America’s the only nation in the world which, in so many cases, lets the tail wag the dog. Every minority and special interest group demands to be treated the same as the overwhelming majority; political correctness then amplifies the demands of those fringe elements to the point that our leaders become confused as to the difference between tolerance and official policy.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction," Reagan wrote. "We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same. Or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

The chaos in Egypt should grab every American’s attention, and cause each of us to rethink where this country is right now, and where we want it to go. The election of 2010 sent a loud, clear message to Congress that the course taken in 2008 was not one which the majority any longer wishes to travel. Yet as foreign journalists were rounded up in Egypt, Democrats in the Senate voted along party lines to block Republican efforts to repeal President Obama’s health care law.

"I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves," President Reagan once said. "If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way. Stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again."

The outbreak of violent demonstrations in Egypt should trumpet a call to Americans to realize that the same thing is only a heartbeat away right here. And this is why: voters, in 2010, told Congress to change things, and right now. If the public perceives there to be no peaceful way to effect change through the ballot box, the only way left to regain control of government is to revolt, and violent demonstrations are the first step.

If you think this alarmist, consider that I witnessed the 60s and 70s. I believe firmly the adage, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Reagan said, "To sit back, hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping that he will eat you last, but eat you he will."

A myriad of problems in this nation could be solved with the application of some good old common sense. The thing frustrating so many ordinary citizens is that the people we’ve elected seem to have lost their minds, and just will not listen to common sense.

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language," President Reagan once lamented, "are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’"

The vast majority of rank-and-file citizens use common sense every day just navigating through our increasingly litigious, governmentally regulated society. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel when a problem comes along, they just fix the problem.

But our politicians just don’t get it, not to Reagan’s surprise. He held "the best minds are not in government; if any were, business would hire them away."

Mark this, friend. There’s a clear message being sent to Americans from the chaos in Egypt: pay attention to the vast majority, and stay the course before you run aground.

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny," Reagan said. "We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our grandchildren say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

Indeed.

On the occasion of his 100th birthday, I surely miss President Ronald Wilson Reagan. May he rest in peace, and may God bless the America he so nobly served.

Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.

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