Paul Ryan Echoes Ronald Reagan's Goldwater Presidential Campaign Speech

"The time for choosing is drawing near," Ryan will say tonight, alluding to Reagan's 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing."

One line jumped out at me in Paul Ryan's advance excerpts of his nomination acceptance speech. "The right that makes all the difference now is the right to choose our own leaders," he will say, according to the Romney-Ryan campaign. "You are entitled to the clearest possible choice because the time for choosing is drawing near."

If there's something that sounds a little archaic and formal about that line, it's because it's an echo of Ronald Reagan's 1964 stump speech, "A Time for Choosing," which was broadcast in support of Senator Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in late October of that year.

The key passage Ryan is alluding to:

I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government."

This idea -- that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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