Sarah Palin ended her debate presentation with this:
“It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.”
It’s true, Reagan did say pretty much that, although the quote blends some Palin with some Reagan.
Something Palin didn’t mention is that Reagan said it in a recorded message, sent around the country by the American Medical Association in 1961 as part of its advocacy against the creation of the Medicare program. The threat to freedom that Reagan referenced was represented by the creation of Medicare.
Jonathan Chait of the New Republic pointed out the connection in a post of the TNR blog, “The Plank.”
Chait links to a long article by Larry DeWitt describing Reagan’s role in opposing the creation of Medicare. At the end of the record album, titled “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine,” Reagan encourages listeners to and write letters urging the defeat of Medicare:
“Write those letters now. Call your friends, and tell them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day . . . we will awake to find that we have so¬cialism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”