Margaret Thatcher passed away Monday at the age of 87
In her passing, and by leaving us at this moment, Margaret Thatcher reminds us of her 11 years in power – and more to the point, she reminds us again that decline, social democracy, and political squalor are not inevitable, never set in stone, and always ready for a good smack from a decent handbag.
In my mind is the image of the former British Prime Minister in 2004 at the Capitol of the United States of America after President Ronald Reagan passed away. His flag-draped casket was on view in the rotunda as thousands of citizens filed by to pay their respects. Then Lady Thatcher, not in good health herself, arrived to honor her old friend with these words:
“We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man. And I have lost a dear friend.”
She helped modernize Great Britain while loosening the death grip of the unions, privatizing the airlines and other losing businesses to turn a profit, cut taxes, faced the Cold War, and refused to compromise with terrorists. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of her accomplishments during her eleven years of leadership.
Considering what Obama has done in his four years as president, I’m not convinced he is a believer in the same goals as Margaret Thatcher….
George Allen, who was Virginia Governor during the 1995 visit, remembered Margaret Thatcher today, writing, “Susan and I mourn the loss of one of the world’s greatest leaders, Margaret Thatcher. Our meetings with the ‘Iron Lady’ were always informative and invigorating, and she projected an eternally optimistic view, as did her partner Ronald Reagan, in the advancement of freedom. Indeed, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul and Margaret Thatcher were the essential, unified trio that lead to the fall of the Iron Curtain. We enjoyed learning from Lady Thatcher in England and when she came to Richmond for an historic address at our Virginia Capitol.”
In a time when the world needed them Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were there. While the first few weeks of Pope Francis give us hope, those who can follow in the footsteps of Reagan and Thatcher don’t exist. Or if they do, we don’t know them yet.
She was a strong-willed woman who helped redefine the Conservative Party in Great Britain. Much like the Republican Party in the United States today, prior to Thatcher, far too many within the Conservative party had given up on the ideals of a constitutionally limited government, merely accepting the greatly expanded power their national government had adopted over the years. Rather than questioning some of the tasks and burdens that the government had undertaken (which is what any good citizen or government official ought to do), most politicians on the right simply sought to make their government more efficient. Although facing tremendous pressure and blowback, especially from the big government supporters from within the Conservative Party, Thatcher spent considerable effort and political capital to reduce their government, transitioning the British to a more free market based economy. In addition, she clearly illustrated the fact that principled women can lead just as well as their male counterparts.