Rendezvous With Destiny – Five Stars

As I read works of history, biography, and other non-fiction, I generally try to underline as I go – highlighting choice sections and phrases so I can remember them or note them later more easily.  This has proven to be particularly useful in longer works, such as Craig Shirley’s Rendezvous with Destiny.   As I noted on the Goodreads review, Shirley takes on the incredibly challenging task of accurately summarizing the 1980 Presidential campaign between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and is tremendously successful. Beginning with the heated primaries on both sides, Shirley sheds light on the relationships of all the major challengers.  Shirley doesn’t shy away from the “mess”iness of the campaign life, taking the time to give thorough representations of the candidates’ lives and organized (or disorganized) campaigns.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about Reagan and his campaign that really did leave a mark on America for the following 25 years. It’s an enjoyable read and full of fascinating history.

And here I give you just a taste of the highlighted material:

  • “To some generations much is given. Of other generations, much is expected.” – FDR (p. 7)
  • No one in America was investing in the future anymore.  Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no tomorrow became the idealized philosophy of America in the 1970s. (p. 44)
  • He [Solzhenitsyn] hit the materialism of America especially hard, condemning the worldview that put “man as the center of everything that exists.”  The world, according to Solzhenitsyn, was “at a major turning point.” (p. 44)
  • The “new” Reagan had not changed his basic ideology, only how he presented it.  The focus became the positive aspects of his conservative philosophy.  Rather than talking about balanced budgets, he spoke of limitless opportunities.  He spoke of new horizons for the American people.  His eye was on the dawn and not the dusk.  Rather than dwelling on the past, he offered hope for the future.  Rather than just denouncing collectivism, he expounded on the merits of freedom.  Rather than being “anti-abortion,” Reagan was pro-life.”  To a degree, Reagan’s message was a reaction to Carter’s politics of scarcity, but it was also indicative of Reagan’s own intellectual maturation.  (p. 107)
  • “Government exists to protect us from each other.  Where government has gone beyond its limit is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”  – Reagan (p. 227)
  • Reagan said take the yoke of government off the people and they will save the economy themselves. (p. 231)
  • “I think the biggest single cause [of the breakdown in the family] has been the bureaucratic role of government and the insistence by government that it knows more about raising children than parents do,” he [Reagan] said.  And this: “I would like to take government back from being – or attempting to be – parent, teacher and clergyman and make government what it is intended to be in the first place and that is the servant of the people.” (p. 287)
  • The [1980] platform dealt with pro-life judges, the decontrol of oil and natural gas, more domestic exploration, repealing the national 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, busing, gun control, new defense  systems, and increased pay and incentives for the American GI and military reserves.  It called for rejection of SALT II and for “military superiority” over the Soviets.  It was the most conservative and most specific platform in the history of the party. (p. 329)
  • “Separation of church and state does not mean we have to separate ourselves from our religion.” – Reagan (p. 489)
  • “We don’t have inflation because people are living to well.  We have inflation because the government is living too well.” – Reagan (p. 535)
  • Washington “has usurped powers and autonomy and authority that belongs back at the state and local level.  It has imposed on the individual freedoms of the people, and that there are more of these things that could be solved by the people themselves if they were given a chance or by the levels of government that were closer to them.” – Reagan (p. 541)
  • Viewers saw a man of humility but self-confidence, a conservative who believed that compassion came from the home, the church, and the community and that it could not – and more importantly should not – be imposed by government fiat. (p. 546)
  • “The philosophical collapse of the GOP came with the 2000 campaign of George W. Bush, who ran without calling for a single spending cut, much less the elimination of programs, agencies, or departments.  Worse, neoconservatives moved to fill the philosophical vacuum created by the supply-siders.” – Ed Crane (p. 596)
  • Someone once said that Washington was too small to be a state and too large to be an insane asylum. (p.602)
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