Thatcher, born on October 13, 1925, implemented economic policies that restored Great Britain’s economy which had been devastated by long-term stagnation following imposition of socialist policies and the rise of labor unions after World War II. Her death comes less than a decade since the death of Ronald Reagan, who has been rightfully credited with one of the longest periods of economic prosperity and peace in American history. Thatcher was Reagan’s philosophical counterpart across the pond, championing parallel economic revival and an aggressive stance against Communism on the other side of the Atlantic, restoring British pride, patriotism and burgeoning allies in Europe.
Thatcher presided over a dynamic economic transformation in Great Britain, following epic unemployment, massive inflation, and the takeover of various basic industries by the government – roughly equivalent to “stagflation” experienced in the United States at the same time. The times were marked on both sides of the ocean by politics of leftist nihilism. America’s Democratic President Jimmy Carter seemingly gave in to an inexorable “malaise” and the British Labour Party advocated “more of the same” in elections despite the union-driven “Winter of Discontent” and the documented misery of average British families. Both nations turned to the right in an act of self-preservation, entrusting Thatcher and Reagan with the future.
Thatcher also is beloved and revered for helping to end the Cold War by standing in solidarity with Ronald Reagan against Soviet threats across the globe, especially in Europe, and also by maintaining a British nuclear deterrent, ignoring leftist / appeasement calls for unilateral disarmament which at the time were prevalent. Soviet officials later acknowledged that the willingness of the American-British delegation to “walk away” at the Reykjavik talks ultimately forced an unsustainable increase in Soviet defense expenditures, the subsequent inevitable collapse of the Russian economy, and the victorious end of the Cold War.
Margaret Thatcher had more impact on the world than any woman ruler since Catherine the Great of Russia. Not only did she turn around – decisively – the British economy in the 1980s, she also saw her methods copied in more than 50 countries. “Thatcherism” was the most popular and successful way of running a country in the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st.
However, there is no need to glamorize or embellish her achievements, because her legacy is a statement in and of itself. More importantly, she rose to power not through family connections or nepotism (indeed, she did not grow up well-connected or wealthy) but through hard work and grim determination. In other words, there’s a reason why she has inspired so many young people (not just women) both in America and Great Britain to get involved in politics and fight for conservative principles. And as long as freedom and liberty are under assault, she will continue to do so for generations to come.
UPDATE 04/22/2013: A great cartoon by the inestimable Michael Ramirez captures the feelings Americans and people around the world have for Thatcher and her ideological counterpart, Ronald Reagan: