Monday, April 8, 2013

The Iron Lady Will Not Rust

This morning I sighed as I heard the news. My wife and daughter were getting ready for the day. I was making and packing their lunches. Hearing my sigh, my wife looked and asked what it was about.

"Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke this morning."

"That sucks. Isn't she that English woman we saw the movie about?"

My wife is a few years younger than I. In fact, she was just 5 years old when Thatcher left office in 1990. I was a senior in College.

I am currently writing a book about my "political awakening". It's more about my growth over the years and how certain incidents, events, and gold nuggets dug up while researching various things during the course of my life shaped my individual political ideology. Margaret Thatcher is surely one of the more influential people.

I was born the year Nixon was elected for his first term. I spent my younger years under Ford and Carter. Even at a young age, I was excited and relieved when Reagan was elected in 1980.

Thatcher took office as Prime Minister in 1979. There is little doubt her policies and early administration shaped the political landscape that led to Reagan's election in 1980.

In 1979, gasoline prices were well over $1 a gallon. "Stagflation" due to government interference in the market was prolonging one recession and setting the stage for a second. I was too young to recall the exact timeline. But I remember that recession hitting my family in 1980.

I remember the 5lb blocks of cheese-flavored wax that were good only for grilled cheese sandwiches, if you added tomato and Tabasco to them.

I remember the "generic food" craze.

I remember the hostage crisis. I remember Carter's defense budget being ultimately responsible for the failed Desert One mission to rescue them.

I remember Thatcher. I recall her statements regarding that hostage crisis. I remember her criticism of Carter's "don't do anything but talk" tactic.

I remember her statement "the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money to spend". 

I remember Thatcher's decision to fight over the Falklands.

I remember Thatcher uniting with Reagan's administration in seeking to win the Cold War. They did so economically but prepared to do so with military force. Neither sought to fire the first shots of such a war, but were determined to fire the last ones. 

She was a tough old bag, worthy of admiration.

My wife wasn't even born when most of those incidents occurred. Her experience of Thatcher is mostly from that movie, which starred a blatant and unapologetic socialist, Meryl Streep. Despite that ideological diametric opposition, Streep still portrayed Thatcher rather respectfully.

Thatcher was one of those women you point towards when your daughters look for great role models. You would be hard-pressed to find better. Thatcher was tough. She was smart. She was compassionate. She was successful. She was the first (and so far only) female British Prime Minister. She was a leader when the world needed leadership.

Even though she didn't live through most of Thatcher's accomplishments while in office, my wife does hold Thatcher in high regard. When my wife faces a conflict, she is not afraid to stand her ground and fight. Like Thatcher, she checks the facts, gets the data, makes a decision, and sticks with it.

Thatcher was somebody who lived by the creed of leaving a place better than she found it. She did so in Parliament. She did so as Prime Minister. Now, she has done so with the world. She leaves it better than she found it. Even the incursion of socialism since the days of Thatcher and Reagan has not yet undone their great efforts. Yes, the world is a better place because of Margaret Thatcher. Today, it's a worse place without her.

As we morn her passing, please, my friends, give Mrs. Thatcher the respect she earned. Do so by celebrating her achievements.  Though them, the Iron Lady will not rust, ever.