This week I dug up an amazing – and scary – radio commentary my father delivered on Sept. 1, 1976.
It was one of about 600 weekly nationally syndicated commentaries he wrote on yellow legal tablets during the late 1970s.
It described how he had decided what to say in “a letter to the future” he had been asked to write for a time capsule to be opened in 2076 during the Los Angeles Bicentennial celebration.
He had been asked to mention in the letter some of the most serious problems confronting the United States in 1976.
In case you’re too young to have been alive then, that’s when the Soviet Union Empire was truly dangerous and America was suffering from the effects of “stagflation,” high taxes, social unrest, weak leadership in Washington and a spiritual malaise that fostered a sense of national pessimism.
Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?
Except for the year and a few details, many of those big problems of 1976 are back to torment us again today.
As my father explained in his disturbingly timeless commentary, writing that letter to the future “became a rather complex chore.”
“Think about it for a minute,” he said. “What do you put in a letter that’s going to be read 100 years from now – in the year 2076?
The people who will read it “will be living in the world we helped to shape,” he said.
“Will they read the letter with gratitude in their hearts for what we did or will they be bitter because the heritage we left them was one of human misery?”
Much of what my father said on the radio about what he put in his letter to the future could have been written yesterday.
He said the greatest problem the United States faced in 1976 was the choice “between continuing the policies of the last 40 years that have led to bigger and bigger government, less and less liberty, redistribution of earnings through confiscatory taxation, or trying to get back on the original course set for us by the Founding Fathers.
“Will we choose fiscal responsibility, limited government, and freedom of choice for all our people? Or will we let an irresponsible Congress set us on the road our English cousins have already taken? The road to economic ruin and state control of our very lives?”
Meanwhile, he also said what again may soon be true today, thanks to the Biden administration’s mishandling of the war in Ukraine:
“On the international scene two great superpowers face each other with nuclear missiles at the ready – poised to bring Armageddon to the world.
“Those who read my letter will know whether those missiles were fired or not. Either they will be surrounded by the same beauty we know or they will wonder sadly what it was like when the world was still beautiful.”
As we head for the midterm elections that conservatives hope will stop the Biden crew from doing any more damage to the country, what my father said to conclude his commentary 46 years ago he could say again now:
“If we here today meet the challenge confronting us, those who open that time capsule 100 years from now will do so in peace, prosperity and the ultimate in personal freedom.
“If we don’t keep our rendezvous with destiny, the letter probably will never be read – because they will live in the world we left them, a world in which no one is allowed to read of individual liberty or freedom of choice.”
This week I used my father’s warning to the future for a well-received talk I gave to 130 high school students at a Young America’s Foundation conference at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara.
I told those conservative leaders of tomorrow it’s their job to make sure America remains a place that’s peaceful, prosperous and free – so that their children will be around to read my father’s letter in 2076.
Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, is an author, speaker and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. Send comments to email@example.com and follow @reaganworld on Twitter