Raising the Standard.

‘A Time for Choosing’ at 50

“If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”

—Ronald Reagan, 1964


We’re late by a day, but we would be remiss to ignore the 50th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s 1964 address on behalf of the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, which has been dubbed “The Speech.”

Historian Lee Edwards sets the scene over at NRO:

“A Time for Choosing” was Reagan’s work from beginning to end. He researched it, he wrote it, and he delivered it without a teleprompter or a manuscript, relying on a packet of 4-by-6-inch note cards on which he had written, in his own shorthand, key phrases, quotes, and statistics.

The “choice” before the American people, he began, is between two starkly different visions of America and the kind of government we should have. One side says “you never had it so good” and the nation is at peace. But, Reagan asked, do they really mean peace or do “they mean we just want to be left in peace”? There can be no real peace, he said, when “we’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars.”

If we lose our freedom, history will record with the greatest astonishment that “those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.” He sharpened the differences between the two sides and the importance of the choice. It’s time, he said, to ask ourselves “if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.”

Here is the most famous passage from the speech, set to a sweeping score. We’ve linked to it before — it only gets better with each re-watching.

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