Much discourse of late has revolved around making America “great again,” but what exactly does that mean and how it is achieved? Some seem content to settle on one or two elements of national policy, anything from the nature of the labor force to the full overhaul of government departments. Such elements of policy may be important to study carefully and consider what is in the best interests of the whole people, whether to continue course or end a bad practice. However, as Ronald Reagan reminded his listeners on November 16, 1982, the proper objective should be making the country well again. This kind of rebuilding does not occur from the government down, but from the people up. He echoed his wise predecessor, the humble man from Vermont, when he said,
Well, I’ve said before, we didn’t go to Washington with more snake-oil remedies for quick fixes, and we don’t suffer from paralysis by analysis. [Laughter] We’re determined to make America well again. We intend to rebuild this country, not from the government down, but from the people up. I believe the true strength of America and her passport to greater glory resides on the streets where you live, with the American family. Calvin Coolidge said, “Look well to the hearthstone, for therein all hope for America lies.”
The goal of our administration has been, and will remain, to restore to families, communities, and places of work their rightful positions of honor, strength, and leadership so, together, we can lift America to new progress and opportunity for all her citizens. The means of reaching that goal have been, and will remain, to liberate individuals, deregulate markets, and place limits on the size and authority of the Federal Government. No longer must government be allowed to ride roughshod, absorbing the people’s wealth, usurping their rights, and crushing their spirit.
The perpetuation of what makes us strong is not rooted in the return of affluence and prosperous times. We can be just as bankrupt inside as we may be wealthy in material. Neither is it a certain indication of superior character to be poor or barely subsisting. The root causes of America’s problems will not be confronted without the requisite character — the will to make and courage to hold to decisions that are necessary because they are right — even when it means standing alone for it. Both the ability to see what must be done and the resolve to do it are furnished by this most essential pillar. The source of restoration lies just where it always has and ever will, the place Coolidge knew it to be, the home. Neglect the family and all else will turn to ash and despair. Cultivate the strength of the family and “therein all hope for America lies.”