Ed Sec Misstates Reagan Quote, Accidentally Exposes His Dept. as Enemy of Freedom

Ed Sec Misstates Reagan Quote, Accidentally Exposes His Dept. as Enemy of Freedom

Talk about irony. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tried quoting former President Ronald Reagan at a conference earlier this month, but left out the most crucial portion of the conservative icon’s words.

Reagan, in fact, stood for exactly the opposite for which Cardona sought to cite him.

While speaking at a meeting of the Western Governors Association in Wyoming on Nov. 8, Cardona said, “As, I think it was President Reagan, said — ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help.’”

The education secretary clearly has no notion of what Reagan was all about: More government means less freedom.

The Reagan full quote is, “I think you all know that I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

Reagan used the line while discussing agriculture policy during a news conference in Illinois in 1986.


“A great many of the current problems on the farm were caused by government-imposed embargoes and inflation, not to mention government’s long history of conflicting and haphazard policies,” he said.

One of the most famous lines of Reagan’s entire presidency came in his first inaugural address in 1981 when he said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

“It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams,” he added.

At the time, the country was dealing with painfully high inflation and interest rates and was heading into a deep recession.

So, clearly, Cardona needs to bone up on his knowledge of 1980s history.

Mollie Hemingway, a best-selling author and editor-in-chief of the conservative website The Federalist, noted the irony in a social media post.

“I actually find it chef’s kiss perfect that the Education Secretary is this ignorant of history,” she wrote.

Similarly, conservative columnist Becket Adams posted, “The ‘education secretary’ misstating a well-known quote regarding bureaucratic incompetence is too on-the-nose even for absurdist fiction. Any good editor would send it back and say, ‘Too much.'”

It’s possible, of course, that Cardona was joking. The New York Post noted that Cardona “briefly paused after the remark and looked around as if he expected laughter” — and a small part of the audience appeared to respond. (The Western Governors Association includes conservative Republicans, after all.)

However, the Post also noted that “there was no trace of sarcasm in his voice.”

But whether he was joking or serious, the effect was the same.

By inverting the point of Reagan’s quote — omitting the most crucial part to use it to support the idea that government is the solution to national problems — Cardona was trying to hijack the words of one of the country’s most influential conservative leaders and force them into service of the kind of intrusive, overreaching government Democrats espouse today.

And by doing so, he inadvertently exposed himself, and by extension his whole department, as an enemy of the kind of freedom Reagan championed so tirelessly.

One thing seems certain: Cardona will not be quoting Reagan again for the notion that the government is the solution to the problem.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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