The leadership of Winston Churchill continues to resonate with a wide variety of American political leaders. (See Obama Quotes Churchill and Shakespeare in “Churchill in the News” on our website, May 2011.)
Recently, Con. Paul Ryan (R- WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, received a Churchill Award for Statesmanship at the annual Churchill Dinner of The Claremont Institute, a leading policy research organization based in Claremont, CA. In 1990, Claremont’s first Churchill Award was given to the late Cong. Jack Kemp, a longtime Board Member and supporter of The Churchill Centre.
On the topic of America’s “Churchillian Moment”, Ryan spoke about America’s fiscal and budgetary challenges and quoted Churchill’s first budget speech as Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding surtaxes. The Congressman noted Churchill’s devotion to telling the British people the truth about the country’s military preparedness during the 1930’s and described America’s current fiscal imbalance as our “gathering storm.” He cited Churchill’s observation that “There are two ways in which a gigantic debt may be spread over new decades and future generations……The right way would be to make the utmost provision for amortization which prudence allows.”
According to Cong. Ryan, Americans “need to take new inspiration from Churchill the leader, who saw what was at stake in the choices the people of his country had to make.” Ryan expressed his belief that the United States is experiencing “our own ‘Churchillian moment’ – threatened, not by foreign aggression, but by a titanic fiscal imbalance that has the potential to crush America’s prosperity and diminish its capacity to lead the world.”
Ryan concluded his address by citing Churchill’s words to the Royal Society of St. George in April 1933:
“Let it be said of us, as Churchill said of his people in their most difficult hour: ‘We ought to rejoice at the responsibilities with which destiny has honored us… and be proud that we are guardians of our country in an age when her life is at stake.'”