What is Reagan saying in "A Time for Choosing?"

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this speech, Ronald Reagan is basically setting out his philosophy of government.  He is arguing against the relatively liberal assumptions of the time (1964) and for the kind of conservative ideas that he would champion as president in the 1980s.

In the speech, Reagan hits on a number of points that would come to define his conservative agenada.  Basically, he is arguing for a smaller government that takes less of a role in the US economy.

For example, he:

  • Argues that taxes are too high.
  • Argues that the government is too far in debt.
  • Says that the welfare state that was developing was too much like socialism.
  • Claims that welfare policies encourage people to avoid work.

One thing that is interesting is that there is no mention of what we call "social issues" these days.  In 1964, things like abortion, gay rights and immigration were not yet on the political radar screen.

In this speech Reagan discusses a range of policy issues.  But the main thrust of the speech centers around the idea of a smaller government, which is what conservatives are supposed to believe in.

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