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In 1981, in pitching his tax cuts to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he said they were about “reordering man’s relationship to the state.” Reagan wanted to move power away from the privileged few to the many people, but he also expressed concerns over corporate America, seeing it as just as dangerous to individuality as excessive government.

All of these men of history - Washington, Lincoln and Reagan - struggled often against a hostile status quo. All were animated by the notion of free people. None was a myth.

Yet all these men achieved mighty and wonderful things. We rather expect gods to defeat empires on which a sun never sets and create new democracies or liberate those enslaved on plantations or behind Iron Curtains. We expect gods to order the leaders of evil empires to tear down walls while restoring the self-confidence of their own impressive if self-doubting republics.

But when mortal men do such deeds, they and the deeds are indeed special. They are exceptional. They are, like their country, greater than a simple sum or equation.

As with his country, the sum of Reagan at 100 was and is greater than the parts.

Craig Shirley is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and the author of two books on the 40thpresident, “Reagan’s Revolution” (Thomas Nelson, 2005) and “Rendezvous With Destiny” (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2009).