In his two terms in office, President Ronald Reagan gave America a powerful transfusion of his own optimism and hope. He rekindled a sense of the possible, rescuing America from defeatism and restoring our confidence and pride in this great nation. That transformation of America was possible chiefly because of Reagan’s unshakable faith in the power of ideas.

Reflecting his strong conviction in freedom, Reagan pointed out in his address to students at Moscow State University in May 1988:

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 recognizing shortcomings and seeking solutions.

President Reagan’s wisdom and insight continue to shine through The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. In reality, his legacy has lived on through experiences of many developing economies that have joined the free world only in recent decades. The embrace of economic freedom by the young democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has proved particularly notable, and many other countries have made gains in reducing poverty by adopting measures that open up their economies.

The fight for freedom is a never-ending struggle. With global economic recovery far from certain, the imperative for advancing economic freedom to revitalize vibrant entrepreneurial growth is stronger than ever. As Heritage President Edwin Feulner, Ph.D., reminds us in his preface of the Index, “Our commitment to preserving and enhancing freedom has seen us through much in the past and will surely guide us successfully in the future.”

Today, as we celebrate President Reagan’s 101st birthday, renewing our commitment to economic freedom is perhaps the best way to carry on his optimism and confidence in the power of ideas.