Ronald Reagan – "We The People Tell The Government What It Can Do"

By | July 25, 2011

This 1987 State of the Union address given by President Reagan was referenced in a book I was reading today. I appreciate Ronald Reagan’s articulation of the rights of the people as well as his ability to take responsibility for his actions. The video is about 5 minutes and additional print is below.

“I’ve read the constitutions of a number of countries, including the Soviet Union’s. Now, some people are surprised to hear that they have a constitution, and it even supposedly grants a number of freedoms to its people. Many countries have written into their constitution provisions for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Well, if this is true, why is the Constitution of the United States so exceptional?

Well, the difference is so small that it almost escapes you, but it’s so great it tells you the whole story in just three words: We the people. In those other constitutions, the Government tells the people of those countries what they’re allowed to do. In our Constitution, we the people tell the Government what it can do, and it can do only those things listed in that document and no others. Virtually every other revolution in history has just exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers. Our revolution is the first to say the people are the masters and government is their servant. And you young people out there, don’t ever forget that.”

(Print bolded by this author. This text of The State of the Union Address was obtained at : Read more at the American Presidency Project: