In his March 23, 1983 televised address, President Ronald Reagan called for the American people to pursue a bold plan to launch a new missile defense program which would render Soviet nuclear armaments obsolete. He said, “The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: the United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression, to preserve freedom and peace.”
Phyllis Schlafly put it another way in her May 1983 Phyllis Schlafly Report. She said, “President Reagan offers our nation the choice: living in terror of nuclear war based on a strategy of retaliation and revenge, or living in freedom based on a strategy of rendering attacking nukes obsolete. In simpler terms, our choice is fear or freedom.”
Liberals immediately mocked Reagan’s proposed “Strategic Defense Initiative.” Their protests against a non-nuclear, non-aggressive system proved that liberals cared more about American concession than global peace. Phyllis Schlafly was quick to point out the diplomatic illiteracy and denial of scientific consensus which fueled arguments from the left. Liberals claimed that SDI would “destabilize” relations with the Soviet Union and lead to nuclear war before it even went online. Phyllis argued that only a country with plans to do us harm should have a problem with a missile defense system possessing no offensive capability whatsoever. Ultimately, Phyllis’s arguments proved a compelling force in the debate on this important program.
Although SDI was never fully implemented as President Reagan had envisioned it, the program was still a crucial part of ending the Cold War. We should remember this lesson – as we cannot allow pessimistic naysayers from the left to disrupt our dialogue of hope and optimism. Can we build a wall on our southern border? Can we put America first in trade? Can we defeat radical Islam on our shores? The answer lies in the May 1983 Phyllis Schlafly Report: “In religious terms,” Phyllis wrote, “despair is a sin; in practical terms, despair is self-defeating; in American terms, despair is historically false – we have proved that we are the great ‘can do’ nation.”