Ronald Reagan Quotes

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. See our disclosure for more info.

These Ronald Reagan quotes capture the spirit of an actor, a leader, and a charismatic speaker who loved playing politics.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. His two terms were filled with memorable quotes that reflected his strong beliefs and optimistic outlook.

Starting his career as an actor and governor of California gave Reagan a unique outlook on Washington and the world.

So enjoy reading Reagan’s best quotes and musings on life, liberty, and country and find a new favorite right here.

Top 10 Reagan Quotes

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.

Never let the things you can’t do stop you from doing what you can.

Ronald Reagan quote "Trust but verify"
“Trust, but verify.” – Ronald Reagan

We the people tell the government what to do. It doesn’t tell us.

A people free to choose will always choose peace.

We are never defeated unless we give up on God.

We cannot stop at the foothills when Everest lies ahead.

Ronald Reagan quote "Don’t be afraid to see what you see"
“Don’t be afraid to see what you see.” – Ronald Reagan

There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Inspiring Reagan Quotes

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table"
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” – Ronald Reagan

Somebody once said that life begins when you begin to serve. Maybe if there’s a feeling that you can be of service then you feel you have to do it.

If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

Most often it’s not how handsomely or eloquently you say something, but the fact that your words mean something.

We must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question we must answer is, are we on His side?

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.

Each day is different, and you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go, and love; just love.

"Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music"
“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” – Ronald Reagan

I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.

The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave.

Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.

Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.

Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.

The societies that have achieved the most spectacular, broad-based progress are neither the most tightly controlled, nor the biggest in size, nor the wealthiest in natural resources. No, what unites them all is their willingness to believe in the magic of the marketplace.

Ronald Reagan quote "Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid"
“Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” – President Reagan

Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire post-war period, contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.

We believe faith and freedom must be our guiding stars, for they show us truth, they make us brave, give us hope, and leave us wiser than we were.

On Freedom

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.

Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.

Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.

"If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to"
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to.” – Ronald Reagan

Freedom It is the right to dream — to follow your dream or stick to your conscience, even if you’re the only one in a sea of doubters.

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.

Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag.

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.

"Coercion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him"
“Coercion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him.” – President Reagan

On America

The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.

America is the moral force that defeated communism and all those who would put the human soul itself into bondage.

A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.

We Americans don’t want war, and we don’t start fights.

Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.

The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America…our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal.

Reagan quote "Excellence does not begin in Washington"
“Excellence does not begin in Washington.” – Ronald Reagan

Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.

I believe now, as I alway have, that America’s strength is in ‘We the People.’

While I take inspiration from the past like most Americans, I live for the future.

I hope the people on Wall Street will pay attention to the people on Main Street. If they do, they will see there is a rising tide of confidence in the future of America.

It is time to realize we are too great a nation for small dreams. We’re not — as some would have us believe — doomed to an inevitable fate.

Quotes as President

Ronald Reagan served two terms as President of the United States, from 1981 to 1989.

As Commender in Chief he was never shy with words to the media, political opponents, or other world leaders.

These Ronald Reagan quotes capture the spirit of a President with strong beliefs and unwavering principles that still shape conservatism today.

On Government

Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

"Government’s first duty is to protect the people not run their lives"
“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” – Ronald Reagan

The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.

History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!

The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

President Reagan quote "Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets"
“Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.” – President Reagan

Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.

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.

I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.

Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.

Today, if you invent a better mousetrap, the government comes along with a better mouse.

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

On Politics

When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.

Ronald Reagan quote "We can’t spend ourselves rich"
“We can’t spend ourselves rich.” – Ronald Reagan

I used to say that politics was the second-oldest profession. I have come to know that it bears a gross similarity to the first.

Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.

It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.

The Democrats say that the United States has had its days in the sun, that our nation has passed its zenith. My fellow citizens, I utterly reject that view.

Being free and prosperous in a world at peace. That’s our ultimate goal.

Draft registration destroys the very values that our society is committed to defending.

I consider all proposals for government action with an open mind before voting ‘no.’

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?"
“Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?” – Ronald Reagan

Our Constitution is to be celebrated not for being old, but for being young.

Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So we cut the people’s tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before.

When you see all of the smoke billowing up from the Democrats, ladies and gentlemen, I’d follow the advice of their nominee: Don’t Inhale.

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.

You can never underestimate the ability of the Democrats to wet their finger and hold it to the wind.

The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.

Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.

"Democracy is not a fragile flower; still it needs cultivating"
“Democracy is not a fragile flower; still it needs cultivating.” – Ronald Reagan

The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.

On Communism and Socialism

Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and Hell where they already have it.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.

The West will not contain Communism; it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we’ll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

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.

Reagan quote "I believe the best social program is a job"
“I believe the best social program is a job.” – Ronald Reagan

It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad, and the collapse of imperial Communism.

I have seen the rise of fascism and communism. Both philosophies glorify the arbitrary power of the state… But both theories fail. Both deny those God-given liberties that are the inalienable right of each person on this planet, indeed, they deny the existence of God.

The great dynamic success of capitalism had given us a powerful weapon in our battle against Communism: money.

The march of freedom and democracy . . . will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Let us resolve that we will stop spreading dependency and start spreading opportunity; that we will stop spreading bondage and start spreading freedom.

Humorous Ronald Reagan Quotes

If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

Ronald Reagan quote "How can a President not be an actor?"
“How can a President not be an actor?” – Ronald Reagan

The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.

Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.

They say hard work never hurt anybody, but I figure why take the chance.

If we ever forget that we are one nation under God then we will be a nation gone under.

There are some who’ve forgotten why we have a military. It’s not to promote war, it’s to be prepared for peace.

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.

Many a man has failed because he had his wishbone where his backbone should have been.

I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.

You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.

Reagan joke "One picture is worth a thousand denials"
“One picture is worth a thousand denials.” – Ronald Reagan

I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.

I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.

I did turn 75 today – but remember, that’s only 24 Celsius.

Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.

I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.

One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.

President Reagan quote "I'm not smart enough to lie"
“I’m not smart enough to lie.” – President Reagan

The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.

An economist is someone who sees something that works in practice and wonders if it would work in theory.

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.

I am very proud to be called a pig. It stands for pride, integrity, and guts.

You know, by the time you reach my age, you’ve made plenty of mistakes if you’ve lived your life properly.

"I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things"
“I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things.” – Ronald Reagan, 1989 Farewell Address

They broke the mold when they made Ronnie.

Nancy Reagan

We hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of the best Ronald Reagan quotes.

No matter what your politics are, you’ll still find wisdom and inspiration in the musings of the Fortieth President. So stay the course and keep hoping for a bright future just like he did.

As the small sign on his desk read: “It CAN be done.”

Photo of author

Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's editor, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.