In the age of the 24 hour news channel and the growth of opinionated political talk radio, our history has become askew to one's interpretation. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they release a bunch of shit. For instance, after a President leaves office, their legacy starts to enlarge to massive proportions whether it be good or bad, mainly because of these opinionators.
For example, President George W Bush and his tax cuts. Those tax cuts made such a clamor 2 years after he left office, he publicly stated he doesn't want his name attached to them any longer. Yet, for the good or bad that those taxes have brought upon us, people will associate them with his legacy. We were told in 2003 that the tax cuts would help business grow and create jobs, yet we are still sitting at 9% unemployment rate and business is still crying for larger tax cuts (maybe to horde more money). And only now are consumers actually going out and spending their paychecks.
Another example would be military downsizing and President Bill Clinton. Many link the downsizing of our military in the early 1990's to Democratic President Bill Clinton, yet forgo the reality that it all started under his predecessor President George H W Bush and was the idea of his Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney. But since the downsizing began late in President Bush's term and the length of the downsizing continued deep into Clinton's tenure, it shall always be linked to Clinton.
Over the weekend, there were only three things to watch on TV; Super Bowl, Egyptian protest, and the celebration of our 40Th President, Ronald Reagan's 100Th birthday. I hadn't planned on writing anything about our 40Th president, for I was only 7 years old when he took his oath of office and my memory of him during those years were; Bomb Libya, Rescue students from Granada (not the crappy Ford product), and many summits with the U.S.S.R.
Yet, over the years I hear about this legacy of President Reagan and I watch old footage of his speeches and I see a man, a common man that led our nation. Now, I do not mean "common" as in dumb, but he was your regular guy, it was as if Grandpa was running the country and everyone has faith in Grandpa, for he would never lie to us.
But to hear these opinionators talk as if he was the "Warrior of Mt Washington" and he rescued us from Hades, makes me skeptical of their words. I only wish others were the same, but they sit around their TV or radio, believing every spoken word.
The 1970’s can be considered a very dark period in our young history. So much went wrong from two gasoline shortages, the ending of the Vietnam War, high inflation and unemployment, and three very bad presidencies; the disgraced, the fool and the idiot. You can decide which president is which.
As the 1970’s were coming to an end, the Presidential Campaign was just beginning. The Democrats were in disarray for President Carter was failing and Senator Ted Kennedy decided to challenge him for the nomination. The Republicans, however, had started to pull themselves to together as soon as Carter’s presidency began. They made their choice and it was former California Governor Ronald Reagan.
Reagan had been a poster boy for the Republicans for some time, once used in the 1960’s to denounce Medicare as a “socialist program” through various public relation releases. But, from what I have seen from old news clips was that the choice of Reagan by many was his calm demeanor to explain himself and wasn't afraid to challenge the system of Washington.
We never hear how he left Judge Bork dangling in the Judicial Senate hearings. As soon as the hearings turned South, Reagan open the door for a new candidate and forgot who Judge Bork was.
He did raise taxes during his presidency, but how the opinionators tell it, "Reagan didn't do it, it was the Liberal Congress that did it." But if you asked historian Douglas Brinkley, Republican Senator Allan Simpson, and former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman, they'll tell you that Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his eight years in office.
In 1981, President Reagan signed his tax cut law. But shortly after, he slowly raised them because he never attacked entitlement spending and the Pentagon spending spree destroyed the budget. He lost over half the tax savings within 4 years.
But President Reagan's legacy lies within the fall of Communism and the U.S.S.R. Many claim that Reagan “killed Communism,” but that’s a half truth. U.S.S.R. was already sliding down, Reagan came in and gave it a kick in the ass to get downhill faster.
The Soviets were hurting, the idea of Communism was dying and the U.S.S.R. had depleted their military and resources by fighting in Afghanistan for over a decade, not to mention their help with North Vietnam. America needed bodies and equipment, also with the advancement in technology, building the military would make the U.S.A. the biggest bully on the block.
We hear today of how government spending is killing us, yet President Reagan did a ton of government spending that ended up hurting the next President, George HW Bush. Our military needed rebuilt after the Vietnam War, yet no one knew where to start. Reagan gave them six words; build it to beat the Soviets.
But also by rebuilding our military, Reagan was able to defeat the high unemployment this country was experiencing from the dreadful 1970’s. Government contracts to build meant jobs in the shipyards or in the assembly line. U.S.S.R. could not keep up with our Capitalistic spending. We outspent the Russians to move ahead and we won, even if it tripled the size of our deficit.
Today’s Republicans use Reagan’s name in vain, hoping through some sort of Political Osmosis, people will begin to think they follow Reagan’s path. About 10% of those currently serving in Congress today might truthfully follow his path, but the rest can be blamed for the Government growth: No Child Left Behind, Homeland Security, increasing Medicare (without thought of how to pay for it) come to my mind quickly.
No Child Left Behind pushed the federal government further into States Rights, something that President Reagan was against.
The Department of Homeland Security was a knee jerk reaction to Sept 11, which grew the federal employee numbers sky high and not mention our spending.
Sarah Palin and Texas Gov Rick Perry talk about Government intrusion yet they were and are the two of the biggest culprits of taking federal money. Rick Perry can boast about having a surplus in Texas, yet he leaves out the fact that he asked the federal government for money to extreme measures. And as of Feb 8 2011, it has been reported that Texas will have to account for $20 billion in losses. No Governor, no hand outs to you.
Alaska is other state that as lived fruitfully on Pork Barrel money and other federal cash and, as with Texas, will have to go through 2011 with about 1/4 the federal cash. Sarah Palin’s Alaska takes in more federal money then 12 states combined and as governor she took the money and ran with it as well.
I won’t even get into money from the Recovery Act that so many Senator, Representatives and Governors took with one hand and pointed about its evils with the other, never telling their constituents where that cash came from. Kind of like working under the table for money and collecting unemployment benefits, yet complaining about people beating the system.
The definition of "Modern Conservatism" has five parts:
1. Resistance to change
2. Reverence for tradition and a distrust of human reason
3. Rejection of the use of government to improve the human condition- ambivalence regarding governmental activity for other purposes
4. Preference for individual freedom but willingness to limit freedom to maintain traditional values
5. Ant egalitarianism- Distrust of human nature
President Reagan wasn't afraid of change, he relished it. Nor do I believe he had a distrust of human reason and human nature. It's #3 & #4 to which his legacy is interpreted, depending on whose telling the story.
I believe President Reagan was a great president. He was the right man to lead us into a new decade and even he felt he could lead us into the future. He used that common, simple thought like Grandpa's often do to lead us through the day, of course for President Reagan he had the jellybeans in his pocket for the kids. Maybe that's what America needs, a leader that is simple and common when they speak, not angry, bitter, folksy or professor like. Someone that's, well, pedestrian in nature, like that of Ronald Reagan