Why “The Iron Lady” Matters
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away today at the tender age of 87. I consider her one of my heroes and will always remember her blunt, and direct comments when posed questions about her or her policies. The confidence she exhumed was exemplary and it wasn’t until I got involved in politics that I came to understand her as well as Ronald Reagan along with the policies they espoused.
What made Lady Thatcher unique isn’t just that she was a female but because she was so strong-willed similar in many ways to Ayn Rand. Like Ms. Rand, Margaret Thatcher is someone who admired ideas and knew the long-term impact of her actions which is why she was so uncompromising. Thanks to Thatcher’s policies the United Kingdom went from a paternalistic welfare state to a dynamic center of commerce and freedom. Her Tory government sold state-owned industries, brought trade unions under control, slashed taxes and government spending. She also supported the peaceful end of the Soviet Union which helped Britain, the US and western Europe prevail in the Cold War.
Legend has it that when she took the helm of the Conservative Party in 1975, there was a discussion in the party’s caucus about what they believed in. Upon hearing this Margaret Thatcher took a copy of economist Friedrich Hayek’s manifesto The Constitution of Liberty, slammed it down on the meeting’s conference table, pointed to the book and thundered This is what we believe!
In an obvious act of mental daftness or insult to her and her legacy, upon learning of Ms. Thatcher’s passing away, President Obama stated:
Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life — free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.
Obama’s statement is laughable since he has enacted a number of policies that were contrary to her vision. His bailout of the auto and bank sectors of the economy along with his socialized health care plan and pursuit to restrict gun ownership in the United States immediately come to mind.
Despite all of this, Obama and his supporters could take some lessons from Lady Thatcher and her legacy. She became popular and won the ideological battle with the Left because she clung to the right ideas and took the long term view. Despite her untimely political demise, Ms. Thatcher’s legacy is sound. Not only is Margaret Thatcher, rightly, the longest-serving and most popular Prime Minister since William Gladstone and Winston Churchill but her legacy is a great example of how the individual can thrive under freedom.