Ronald Reagan’s “are you better off than you were 4 years ago?”

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1980 Ronald Reagan/Jimmy Carter Presidential Debate

Candidate Ronald Reagan’s closing arguments from the 1980 debates between Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter asks “are you better off?”.

Next Tuesday is election day. Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls; you’ll stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were 4 years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was 4 years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was 4 years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were 4 years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to who you’ll vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last 4 years is what you would like to see us follow for the next 4, then I could suggest another choice that you have.

This country doesn’t have to be in the shape that it is in. We do not have to go on sharing in scarcity, with the country getting worse off, with unemployment growing. We talk about the unemployment lines. If all of the unemployed today were in a single line allowing 2 feet for each one of them, that line would reach from New York City to Los Angeles, California. All of this can be cured, and all of it can be solved.

I have not had the experience the President has had in holding that office, but I think in being Governor of California, the most populous State in the Union if it were a nation, it would be the seventh-ranking economic power in the world-I, too, had some lonely moments and decisions to make. I know that the economic program that I have proposed for this Nation in the next few years can resolve many of the problems that trouble us today. I know because we did it there. We cut the cost–the increased cost of government-the increase in half over the 8 years. We returned $5.7 billion in tax rebates, credits, and cuts to our people. We, as I’ve said earlier, fell below the national average in inflation when we did that. And I know that we did give back authority and autonomy to the people.

I would like to have a crusade today, and I would like to lead that crusade with your help. And it would be one to take government off the backs of the great people of this country and turn you loose again to do those things that I know you can do so well, because you did them and made this country great.
Thank you.

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