Back to the future. For anyone wondering what 2012 looks like, look no further than the 1980 election. Here’s Ronald Reagan setting up the choice between American greatness and American retreat. He could have given this speech yesterday.
“Who does not feel a growing sense of unease as our allies, facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration, reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as the leader of the free world?
“Who does not feel rising alarm when the question in any discussion of foreign policy is no longer, “Should we do something?”, but “Do we have the capacity to do anything?”
“The administration which has brought us to this state is seeking your endorsement for four more years of weakness, indecision, mediocrity and incompetence. No American should vote until he or she has asked, is the United States stronger and more respected now than it was three-and-a-half years ago? Is the world today a safer place in which to live?
“It is the responsibility of the president of the United States, in working for peace, to insure that the safety of our people cannot successfully be threatened by a hostile foreign power. As president, fulfilling that responsibility will be my number one priority.
“We are not a warlike people. Quite the opposite. We always seek to live in peace. We resort to force infrequently and with great reluctance–and only after we have determined that it is absolutely necessary. We are awed–and rightly so–by the forces of destruction at loose in the world in this nuclear era. But neither can we be naive or foolish. […]
‘We simply cannot learn these lessons the hard way again without risking our destruction.
“Of all the objectives we seek, first and foremost is the establishment of lasting world peace. We must always stand ready to negotiate in good faith, ready to pursue any reasonable avenue that holds forth the promise of lessening tensions and furthering the prospects of peace. But let our friends and those who may wish us ill take note: the United States has an obligation to its citizens and to the people of the world never to let those who would destroy freedom dictate the future course of human life on this planet. I would regard my election as proof that we have renewed our resolve to preserve world peace and freedom. This nation will once again be strong enough to do that.”