Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks About the Congressional Elections

October 26, 1982

My fellow Americans:

Lately, the airwaves have been full of charges, attacks, and yes, cruel scare tactics. Some have argued that our economy is heading over a cliff. Well, they're wrong. Slowly, but surely, we're lifting our economy out of the mess created over the past several decades. We're on the road back. Others have tried to frighten the elderly about social security. Well, they're wrong, too. And they know it. As long as I'm President, we will protect the solvency of social security, and we will protect the benefits of those who depend on it.

It's time to stop playing on people's fears and to begin asking what we can do together to make things better. None of us can afford to play politics as usual. We love this land of ours, because it's a special place where people are free to work, to save, to believe, to build a better future. The cynics may call it corny, but this way of life we all cherish is best summed up in three simple words: the American dream.

From our beginnings as a nation, that dream has been a living, breathing reality for millions. It still is. But it faces serious threats. There's no mystery about those threats. They've been gradually worsening for a long time, while politicians played the same old games.

I could reel off a lot of numbers, but I don't think I need to. I know you understand what it is we're up against and what we have to do to make our country and the American dream well again. Our way of life is based on some very fundamental values-family, faith, patriotism, hard work, and opportunity. But for too long, those values have been eroded, instead of strengthened, by government policies of spend and spend, tax and tax.

The big spenders gave us record inflation and high interest rates that left you with less and less of your earnings at the end of the week. They made it harder for your family to save for the future, to afford the home of your own, that new car, and all of the other basic products and services that keep our economy going and create jobs. They even drove prayer out of our nation's classrooms.

Well, I'm trying to change that. But to do it, I sure need your help. It takes more than 21 months to undo the damage of 20 years, but we've made a beginning. Already we're winning the war on four out of five economic problems we inherited.

We've cut the growth of government spending by nearly two-thirds. We've lowered your tax rates by 25 percent. We've cut inflation by more than half. And we've driven down those crippling high interest rates from 21 1/2 percent to 12 percent. And here's the vital bottom line. By solving these problems, we've laid the foundation for lasting, inflation-proof recovery that will mean more jobs.

On Tuesday we face another turning point. It's not for me or anyone else to tell Americans how to vote; that's our right as individuals. But I am asking you to think carefully about what's at stake. We've begun to correct the problems and policies that did so much harm to groups like farmers, workers, housewives, and small businessmen. We're doing the job that must be done, and we're seeing unmistakable signs that our program is working—real wages, retail sales, and housing are all up. Americans have reason for hope again.

So, before you cast your vote on Tuesday, please ask yourself if you and your children will be better served by those who are quick to criticize but offer no real alternative, or by those who share our basic values and who will stick to the task before us-making government live within its means and making your future a future of opportunity and prosperity again.

Think about it, my fellow Americans. Can big spenders like the ones who got us into this tragic situation now be trusted to lead us out of it? I believe you know the answer. And I'm counting on you to cast your votes for hope, not despair; for responsible men and women who are pledged to help us, not hinder us, on the road to recovery.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President's remarks were taped at the White House on October 26. Time for broadcast of the remarks on regional television stations and the networks was purchased by the Republican National Committee. The remarks were aired on Saturday and Sunday, October 30 and 31, and Monday, November 1.

The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 31.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks About the Congressional Elections Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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