Back in 1980, when he was running for President, Ronald Reagan said one of his most famous quotes: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”
I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about that quote a whole lot in the last couple of weeks. For the life of me, I can’t understand how it was that the Democrats could lose back then against that slogan. The counter-ads simply write themselves. Imagine a series of Firefighters, Police Officers, National Guardspeople, Marines, FBI Agents, CDC Scientists, Search and Rescue Workers, and Coast Guard Officers, all one after the other coming on screen and saying: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Not quite so terrifying now, is it?
Maybe it took nearly 30 years of perspective for those words to seem as silly as they do now. They really are ridiculous. Think about it, when your house is on fire, how badly do you want firefighters (all government employees) to come and extinguish the fire? Isn’t it more terrifying to think that they might not come? At the theater where I work, we have Police Reservists work there every Friday and Saturday night. When I have a belligerent drunk customer in my lobby, you bet I hope that the Government Employee is coming to help me. And they have, many times.
Really, now it seems that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “The Insurance Company called. Your health insurance’s been canceled.” Yeah, I know I cheated a bit back there, but that’s how you’d say it.
I think that it is well past time for our government employees to take those nine words that terrified that old man so much and wear them as a badge of pride. Why? Because they’re there to help.
So, to all of those Government Employees out there, current or retired (including both of my parents), thanks for the help!