32 Ronald Reagan Quotes You Should Know

Famous Quotes by the 40th President of the United States

Ronald Reagan at a podium

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Ronald Reagan served two terms as President of the United States, from 1981 to 1989. He was also the oldest person ever elected President, which was an issue during both elections. Known as "the Great Communicator," Reagan is often remembered for his quick wit and storytelling. Below you will find some of the funnier and more famous quotes by Ronald Reagan.

Reagan's Philosophy of Life

  • My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose - somehow we win out.
  • All great change in America begins at the dinner table. (Farewell Address to the Nation, delivered in the Oval Office on January 11, 1989)
  • Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.
  • I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. (From Reagan's letter announcing his Alzheimer's disease to the American public on November 5, 1994)
  • When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.
  • Education is not the means of showing people how to get what they want. Education is an exercise by means of which enough men, it is hoped, will learn to want what is worth having.
  • It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance? (Gridiron Dinner on April 22, 1987)

Well, I'm Not Going to Make Age an Issue

  • I did turn 75 today - but remember, that's only 24 Celsius. (Reagan right before he signed the Annual Economic Report of the President (February 6, 1986)
  • Thomas Jefferson once said, "We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works." And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.
  • I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience. (During the Second Presidential Debate against Walter Mondale on October 21, 1984)

Funny Quips as President

  • I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.
  • Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.
  • How can a president not be an actor? (Response by Ronald Reagan when asked by a reporter "How can an actor run for President?" during the presidential campaign in 1980)

Humor Even After Being Shot

  • Please tell me you're all Republicans. (Comment by Ronald Reagan to the surgeons who were about to operate on him after the assassination attempt on March 30, 1981)
  • Honey, I forgot to duck. (Comment made by Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy Reagan, when she arrived at the hospital following the assassination attempt on March 30, 1981)

Albert Einstein, Your Virtue, and Your Neighbor's Job: Reagan's View of Taxes and Economics

  • Even Albert Einstein reportedly needed help on his 1040 form. (Address to the Nation on Tax Reform on May 28, 1985)
  • A recession is when a neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his. (Labor Day Address at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey on September 1, 1980)
  • Balancing the budget is a little like protecting your virtue: You just have to learn to say "no." (Remarks at Kansas State University at the Alfred M. Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues on September 9, 1982)
  • Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. (Remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business on August 15, 1986)

Tear Down This Wall! Communism and the Soviet Union

  • Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (Speech at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987)
  • How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin. (Remarks at the Annual Convention of Concerned Women for America held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia on September 25, 1987)
  • If the Soviet Union let another political party come into existence, they would still be a one-party state, because everybody would join the other party. (Remarks to Polish Americans in Chicago, Illinois on June 23, 1983)
  • I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. (Address to the Nation on National Security on March 23, 1983)

Politics as a Profession

  • Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15.
  • You know, it has been said that politics is the second oldest profession and I've come to realize over the last few years, it bears a great similarity to the first. (Speech at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan on November 10, 1977)
  • Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.

Government Is the Problem

  • Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.​ (Speaking at the National Conference of the Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO on March 30, 1981)
  • Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
  • Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. (First Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981)
  • Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. (Reagan during his gubernatorial campaign in 1965)
  • Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets. (Address to the Nation on the Fiscal Year 1983 Federal Budget on April 29, 1982)


  • I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born. (During the Anderson-Reagan Presidential Debate in Baltimore on September 21, 1980)
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Rosenberg, Jennifer. "32 Ronald Reagan Quotes You Should Know." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/ronald-reagan-quotes-you-should-know-1779926. Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2023, April 5). 32 Ronald Reagan Quotes You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ronald-reagan-quotes-you-should-know-1779926 Rosenberg, Jennifer. "32 Ronald Reagan Quotes You Should Know." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ronald-reagan-quotes-you-should-know-1779926 (accessed May 28, 2023).