|God, guns, and freedom|
|Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner|
|Persons of interest|
“”Someday, it might be worthwhile to find out how images are created, and even more worthwhile to learn how false images come into being.
|—The horse's mouth|
“”Finally, I just stopped caring. Luckily, by then it was the '80s, and no one noticed.
|—Reverend Lovejoy encapsulating the Reagan era spectacularly in "In Marge We Trust," the 22nd episode of season 8 of the The Simpsons.|
“”How far up your ass does this guy's dick have to be before you realize he's fucking you, man? People are just, "I like him. I don’t know what it is. He looks good on TV, he brought back patriotism. Goddamn it, he's a good American. Hold it, something's slapping my ass. Oh, my God, he's fucking us!" "Well, Nancy and I feel that, a man you might know as John Wayne once told me, that, a man you might remember as Jimmy Stewart--" Shut the fuck up. Answer a question like a man, you fucking lying B-actor dickweed...Mr. President, sir. With all due respect.
|—Bill Hicks in his 1989 Special Sane Man|Saint Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6), aka "Ronnie Raygun" and "Teflon Ron" (1911–2004), was the GOP's messiah Sith overlord of the Galactic Empire 40th President of the United States, a B-movie actor and racist, with a long career in "freeing the world from the evil grip of Communism". Scores of problems in the modern USA can be traced to him moving the center of American politics far to the right, even if he did not hold some of these reactionary positions himself.
Originally a dead-dog Hollywood Democrat, old Ronnie got his start in politics by giving The Speech at Goldwater's Presidential nomination in 1964. The marriage of politics and Hollywood, which scarily resembled Rome during its Age of Decadence, was pretty inevitable in hindsight, kicked off with a bang, with Goldwater himself describing the Reagan Revolution as "ostentatious". Never mind Barry; his nose was out of joint because the man who gave The Speech kept on giving The Speech for himself, and so, sixteen years, following a series of four questionable presidents — that one who did Nam', that one paranoid crook, that one klutz who pardoned the crook, and a guy cursed with bad luck — he was anointed Ronaldus Maximus I, defender of the realm.
Reagan is probably one of the most, if not the most, misunderstood presidents in recent memory. Despite his occasionally endearing wackiness and disdain towards life-sustaining flora, Reagan would, by twenty-first-century standards, be considered a perfect caricature of an agreeable liberal centrist keen on maintaining America's integrity and ensuring that effective policy is achieved via positive bipartisan solutions despite Teapublicans forever claiming he was a stalwart defender of strong, right-wing, conservative values, and "would never-ever dream of cooperating with brain-dead snowflake leftists on any issue, and even claiming that he even so much as resembles anyone left of Ted Cruz would be a clear indication that the individual making such a claim is a godless commie and socialistic anti-American supporter of the deep state" as they would say.[citation NOT needed]
In all seriousness, the Republican Party of today treats him as if he were a deity of some sort, often worshipping him as if he were their one true god. In reality, if he were still alive today, they would probably treat him as if he were to the left of John McCain, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, or Lindsey Graham — (who aren't true Republicans): a pro-immigrant globalist RINO who hates America and wants to destroy the United States by letting in all of the Mexicans and Jihadists. The right, being the revisionists they are, would probably never accept that he is basically a more libertarian-leaning Hillary Clinton.
Ronnie's most famous roles include violating the "never play across from an animal" dictum in Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), acting in Army promotional films during World War II, his part as "The Gipper" in a football movie, and being President of the United States for eight years in the 1980s. Not that actors necessarily can't become great presidents — but Volodymyr Zelenskyy arguably had a more successful stint at the acting game.
Reagan (while still a Democrat) served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1937 to 1949. During that time he orchestrated one of the guild's largest strikes (which resulted in actors receiving higher royalties and residuals.) He later did a 1967 to 1975 stint appearing as the Governor of the state of California (but who hasn't?). Oddly enough, despite being SAG president, he became a zealous union-buster who de-fanged American organized labor and cast unions as lazy pinko thugs, sending them into a downward spiral that continues to this day, which included eviscerating wages and working-conditions. Apparently, the noble and hard-working actor needs a union, whereas the miner, factory worker, and air-traffic controller do not.
Ronnie claimed more than once that he was present during the daring liberation of a Nazi concentration camp. He was actually describing a Hollywood film. However, he did serve in the Army from 1942 to 1945.
Reagan redefined politics in America. His influence can even be seen in the "New Democrats", who arose after Reagan ended the golden age of liberalism, which began with FDR. He turned millions of Democrats into Republicans and shifted the country rightward. And those aren't voters that the Democratic Party can quickly win back.
- Evangelicals who were deeply concerned about abortion and gay rights being normalized in America, which was kind of funny because Reagan never took an official stance on either issue
- Gun nuts (lol) and sovereign citizen types who were terrified of Democrats stealing their guns and imposing martial law
- White nationalists who saw the demographic changes in America and felt helpless to stop it
This is the base of the current Republican Party, so it looks like Reagan will have to take responsibility for this one. The good news is roughly half of Americans won't get off their asses to vote, so it didn't matter what his policy proposals even said at all.
A ballet dancer son did not go over well. A daughter who decided to run for the Senate (and support the Equal-Rights Amendment) did not go over well either. In 1982, Ron and his brother Neil helped to bury Maureen, which is too bad since she would have been a more honorable public servant than her father.
Ironically, the one person who could claim the title of "heir to Reagan" is his son Ron Reagan — a liberal and an atheist who had a radio show on Air America Radio. While making a guest appearance on Real Time, Ron Reagan expressed his amusement at the fact that the modern GOP glorifies his father, having elevated him into godhood, which, as both he and Bill Maher agreed, is ironic because Reagan had several center-left social and economic policies that would not fly with today's far-right conservatives, which is pretty much the entire GOP these days. However, in an earlier episode, Bill Maher contradicted this and called "bullshit" on that stance, stating that "Ronald Reagan was an anti-government, union-busting, race-baiting, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-intellectual who cut rich people's taxes in half, had an incurable case of the military-industrial complex and said Medicare was socialism that would destroy our freedom. Sounds like he would fit in just fine."
Michael Reagan (born John Flaugher) might be more up your street. Similar to Reagan, the Donald acts rather Alzheimerish at times, in contrast with how the billionaire asshole behaved back in the 1980s. In Reagan's case, it is kind of sad. For Trump, it is downright terrifying. Half of Reagan's domestic and economic policies were garbage. Still, at least the guy was a passionate and over-idealistic poster boy instead of a selfish, authoritarian opportunist with no policy at all. Trump has literally been trying and failing to make people think he is some sort of second coming of Reagan, even going as far as to appropriate Reagan's "Make America Great" slogan and adding an "again" at the end. The irony of this all is that Trump vocally expressed his dislike for Reagan on numerous occasions, never saying anything remotely positive about him until the 2015 race for the White House.
“”In all of the books that have come out about the administration, it's been extremely difficult to hide the fact that Reagan didn't have the foggiest idea what was going on. Whenever he wasn't properly programmed, the things that would come out of his mouth were like—they weren't lies, really, they were just kind of the babbling of a child. If a child babbles, it's not lies, it's just sort of on another plane. To be able to lie, you have to have a certain degree of competence, you have to know what truth is. And there didn't seem to be any indication that that was the case here.
In many ways, Reagan was sort of a peek into the Republicans' future: why not make elections completely symbolic activities? The population can keep voting; we'll still have the caucuses, big promises, eight candidates, a catchphrase for every occasion. But the people they're voting for will then be expected to just read off a teleprompter, and won't know anything apart from what somebody tells them (and sometimes not even that).
Reagan started to manifest Alzheimer's in his second term, according to his son Ron, though his brother Michael disputes this claim. It's definitely plausible that he was kept in the dark about the Contras, considering he couldn't remember the name of his chief-of-staff during the 1990 hearings. This was a concerted attempt by the administration to cast Reagan as an aloof, dim-witted president who didn't know what his aides, and often what he himself, was doing. While the tactic ultimately proved beneficial during the investigation into Iran-Contra, it only solidified the public perception that Reagan was neither altogether "there" mentally or in control of his administration. It is to be said that, unlike Baron von Nepotism, Reagan, before 1979, was actually able to amass a pretty good cabinet, comprising both Republicans and Democrats, their positions each based on merit, because Ronald was probably intelligent enough to at the very least understand that he did not know squat about certain things.
“”Getting shot hurts.
In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan in an unsuccessful attempt to impress Jodie Foster. It's worth mentioning that this made Reagan the president who broke the Curse of Tippecanoe (which means Dubya probably owes him a life debt). Hinckley then spent his time in a psychiatric hospital until 2016. He now lives with his mother within a gated resort community in Williamsburg, Virginia, only a two-mile walk away from Busch Gardens. Few of the residents are actually aware of it. Foster has not visited him and has since come out as a lesbian.
A sterling record of fiscal conservatism
“”You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter.
|—Dick Cheney shows his hand|
When it came to the federal budget, Reagan held the record for most spending by a conservative until, big surprise, Dubya came along. He ran up the debt to a height unseen since World War II, blowing a massive load of dough on the SDI program. Reagan also founded the Church of Tax Cuts by accident. In the early 1980s, he implemented his trickle-down scheme with a massive tax cut, much of which went to those struggling multi-millionaires. However, he raised taxes later in his administration several times because he could learn from his mistakes. The current Republican Party has erased that last part from memory... as well as all those record deficits.
Magic of the Marketplace
“”Will we, before it is too late, use the vitality and the magic of the marketplace to save this way of life, or will we one day face our children, and our children's children when they ask us where we were and what we were doing on the day that freedom was lost?
|—Reagan in 1977|
The 1977 speech that Reagan gave, from which the quote above came, was given at the annual Ludwig von Mises Memorial Lecture. The speech gave rise to the myth and soundbite ("Magic of the Marketplace") that Reagan gave frequently during his later presidency, encapsulating his anti-regulatory stance that capitalism can solve any problem.:139
The ideology behind the quote have a long pedigree however, dating back to National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which began fighting business regulation in the 1930s when it had become explicitly libertarian.:131-132 NAM's association with libertarianism can be dated to its 1939 convention when it began promoting an idea Sun Oil Company President J. Robert Pew, the idea of the inseparability or indivisibility of different types of freedom, those protected by the First Amendment and one that is not, "industrial freedom" (later promoted as "free enterprise").:131-133 NAM also promoted the false ideas that free enterprise was a founding principle of the United States, and much later that the other freedoms followed from free enterprise:132-133,135 The problem with these false ideas was that had to convince the public of things that were observationally false. The Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal largely rescued capitalism from the Great Depression, not only were many Founding Fathers slave owners but slavery was written into the US Constitution, and many Native American lands were expropriated.:133-134 Marketing came to the rescue for NAM.
NAM was critical in finding employment for both Ludwig von Mises and Mises' student Friedrich Hayek.:135-136 Hayek's most influential book, The Road to Serfdom (1944), was nuanced and rejected the idea of laissez-faire capitalism, making it unsuitable for general readers or industry propaganda.:136-138 Eventually, NAM members decided they needed an academic libertarian who would dispense with nuance and who could write a book with popular appeal. The man they found was Milton Friedman who wrote the very popular Capitalism and Freedom in 1962.:137-138 These three men, Mises, Hayek and Friedman, were patrons of NAM, though they were never paid directly.:138 Friedman continued his promotion of libertarianism to the public, eventually appearing in PBS TV series in 1980 called Free to Choose.:139 1980 was also the year that Reagan became President and introduced the soundbite myth of the "Magic of the Marketplace" to the broader public.:139
Reagan later seemingly conceded that the idea was an article of faith, that one had to have a "willingness to believe in the magic of the marketplace", rather than it being a demonstrable fact.
Junk bond bubble
Then there was the Savings and Loan industry's unprecedented bailout, which was only eclipsed by the bailout following the 2008 banking crisis. Following deregulation of the S&Ls earlier in the decade, new S&Ls popped up like crazy and created a mini-housing bubble. In 1987, Reagan replaced the retiring Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, one of the more sane and level-headed chairs in Fed history (whom the President relied on for stamping out inflation), with Alan Greenspan, now remembered as one of the biggest airheads in Fed history. That being said, things would have gone a lot smoother economically if he would have pulled a hickory and killed central banking. He would have had a much easier time doing this; he had nukes.
Greenspan promptly swooped in to save failing thrifts with easy money in conjunction with Reagan's big bailout after a wave of S&L failures. This managed to prop up enough zombie institutions to create a ticking time bomb that Reagan pawned off on George H. W. Bush. The S&L industry exploded again under Bush after an oil shock and market crash. Ultimately, the S&L scandals led to over 1,000 indictments by the time it all blew over. Economist JK Galbraith said of it:
“”In its shortest form, the scandal has been the extensive looting of the savings and loan associations, the looting being effectively that of government-supplied money. The total take is not yet known; it will certainly be upward of $200 billion, maybe much more, or several thousand dollars for every tax-paying American family. The golden misadventures of General and President Ulysses S. Grant and the greatly celebrated Teapot Dome speculations of Harry F. Sinclair and Albert B. Fall, duly adjusted for changing currency values, are microscopic in comparison.
"The Reagan Boom"
A large part of Reagan's economic policy was a big military buildup. The Soviets' demise was in large part the result of their attempt to keep up. The stated philosophy of "less government and less spending" never actually came into play. Reaganomics, as a real practice, was a myth (very Republican). Aside from about four years of an inefficient economy, this sort of worked out in the end. Due to this buildup, which had the Soviets rightfully concerned, they just did not have the resources to contend with American Ascendancy's growing power. Three presidential administrations' worth of detente may have decreased tensions for a time, but it was viewed by many as appeasement, even if it came from good faith. The whole concept just did not work, and Reagan's ridiculous military expenditure is pretty much how the U.S. curb-stomped the commies into dust. If Reagan had not done so, the Cold War would have probably kept dragging out, and Reagan would be seen as just another meh president.
The Reagan tax cuts had zero to do with the advances in technology that we saw under Clinton. This is, in Al Franken's words, the "crown jewel" of revisionist GOP bullshit: By crediting the tech boom to Reaganomics, they can claim credit for all of Clinton's successes while distancing themselves from Ron's failures. Why was the internet invented (cue Al Gore joke)? Military spending. That takes taxes. How we communicate today? Fiber Optics. Completely subsidized by the government (as have been every upgrade in infrastructure since the start of the United States).
We're not sure what planet you are living on in which a guy gets a tax break, suddenly becomes a programming genius, and walks out into his garage and creates Half-Life. But we want some of those drugs. If they were available, maybe Mass Effect Andromeda would not have been such a goddamn disappointment. What happened to you, BioWare?
Foreign policy switcheroo
“”Freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.
|—The little comment that led to the worst nuclear confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Whoops.|
In reality, after his near-disastrous "evil empire" rhetoric and attempts to heat up a new arms race, Reagan actually worked closely with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev... which many Republicans at the time blasted him for. We don't negotiate with
terr'ists commies. The Soviet Union was already collapsing under its own weight. The death of Leonid Brezhnev, coupled with the collapse in OPEC oil prices (that Reagan had little to no control over), opened up the way for liberalization when transitional leaders like Andropov and Chernenko died in quick succession.[note 2] Gorbachev, who was something of a Hail Mary attempt to keep the USSR together, started a new era of reform through glasnost and perestroika. Reagan managed to find himself in the right place at the right time and take advantage of this situation. One speech about a wall and voila, an instant hero of the galaxy.
To be fair, prominent Soviet bloc dissidents such as Lech Walesa and Natan Sharansky do tend to see Reagan as a pivotal figure, not so much due to his policies but because they see him as providing the inspiration needed to get independent movements within the USSR off the ground.[note 3] Gorbachev himself also credits Reagan as having been instrumental in ending the Cold War. Still, not much actually came of Reagan and Gorbachev's talks (though the INF Treaty was significant). The end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, etc., all happened after Reagan left office. Reagan just had some damn good charisma and was an appropriate figurehead needed at the time for morale. Actual policy on domestic and foreign issues aside, both of them being particularly strong in one area and not so strong at the other), President Obama, the Trajan of our age, had a lot in common with Reagan in terms of how they presented themselves, and how they were able to both provide solid civic leadership skills during their respective decades.
With 138 officials implicated, the Reagan administration went down as one of the most corrupt in history. The stuff that never stuck to Teflon Ron include:
- Rigging HUD loans, for which 16 members of the White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development were convicted.
- St. Ronnie's Chief of Staff and Press Secretary were fined and probated for illegal lobbying activities.
- "Sewergate," which funneled EPA money into Republican campaigns. Twenty EPA higher-ups were removed from office.
- Inslaw Affair in which the Department of Justice was accused of pirating software. Never investigated.
- Creating the Office of Public Diplomacy, which was shut down in 1987 for illegally disseminating pro-Contra propaganda and harassing, threatening and slandering journalists who refused to go along.
- Smuggling cocaine into the US to finance his overseas agenda.
- Operation Cyclone in which the American government sold weapons to Islamic terrorists fighting the Soviets, which contributed to the later rise of Al-Qaeda.
- Supporting brutal African dictators including but not limited to Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Hissène Habre of Chad, and Samuel Doe of Liberia.
Reagan was a particular favorite trope of celebrated futurist author J.G. Ballard. A chapter in his 1969 modernist novel The Atrocity Exhibition was entitled Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan, and saw Ballard successfully prosecuted for obscenity in a UK court. The chapter was written as a kind of bizarre public relations study from some crackpot think tank. Ballard once had copies of it distributed to delegates at a Republican conference, who did not seem to realize it was a piece of satire. Considering what would come next, Ballard may have been a bit too early.
One of his more long-lasting actions was to appoint leaders of a conservative bill mill called ALEC to his White House Task Force on Federalism; the ALEC goons developed and implemented state policies that led to lower taxes and less regulation on businesses. Now in the bed of the Republican apparatus, ALEC won support from major corporate and individual donors, who pushed through their policies on the state level. Such policies advocated by ALEC include voter disenfranchisement, for-profit schools, private prisons, payday loan companies, Stand Your Ground bills, and restricting union influence.
Angel of Death
|—What you definitely want the "leader of the free world" to say during a global health crisis.|
Reagan arguably helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American citizens — if not tens of millions of people worldwide — by vehemently ignoring the growth of a new epidemic that occurred during his time in office: AIDS. He allowed Nelson Mandela, for no reason other than irrational hatred of black people, to be targeted as a terrorist threat, and when Congress passed an anti-apartheid bill, he vetoed it, if for no other reason than to please racist donors.[note 4] And it would not be the only time he would pander to them.[note 5]
He saw it perfectly acceptable to support a plethora of bloodthirsty dictators and terrorists, so long as they were fighting against those evil commies. One of the first major covert actions of the Reagan administration involved providing paramilitary support to Chadian militants led by warlord Hissène Habré in a 1982 coup d'état, to "bloody Gaddafi's nose", as Alexander Haig put it. In May 2016, Habré was found guilty of human-rights abuses, including rape, sexual slavery, and ordering the killing of 40,000 people, resulting in his life imprisonment. Other freedom fighters supported by the administration include Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Suharto in Indonesia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq (against Iran... the irony, it burns of chemical weapons), Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Jonas Savimbi in Angola, General Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala, and the junta in El Salvador.[note 6] He authorized billions of dollars worth of financial support and armament for Afghanistan which got picked up by a fellow known to be the son of a man named Laden.
This lack of tact led to the budget-cutting of non-military programs, including Medicaid, food stamps, federal education programs, and the EPA. While he protected entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, his administration attempted to purge many people with disabilities from the Social Security disability rolls, which is effectively a cut as well.
Murder — it has many faces and is most ugly when its face is power. Sounds like a typical president.
Ascent to God's side
Shortly after his presidency, Reagan began a long and (as it always is) ugly battle with Alzheimer's disease, and in the last years of his life, made very few public appearances. Upon his death in June 2004, a weeklong period of worldwide mourning occurred. All non-essential activities were curtailed so The People could weep for their fallen idol. Also, any taxes due on income earned (or unearned) during that period were waived. The processions as his open casket was brought around the countryside would often stretch for tens of miles as well-wishers offered St. Reagan one final "Godspeed."
He was canonized upon the instant of his death, by popular acclamation. Republicans were not the only ones to shout out his name at any chance they could. President Obama had a habit of often calling out Reagan for being "so amazing", whatever that means...
When Reagan was elected, there was an immediate wave of news articles and magazines asking the hot question, Just how did this amazing man get to be so wonderful? The answer was given as he hires the best people for the job, and gets out of the way! And that legacy is still with us: the idea that a manager doesn't have to really do anything except settle disputes, usually by throwing one or more subordinates to the wolves. It would help if managers from the CEO on down did their fucking jobs, which is to manage and not just "get out of the way."
Let's not forget Reagan's busting of PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization). While Reagan was in favor of the right to organize and bargain collectively, he opposed government worker strikes because it's illegal. Reagan’s dismissal of skilled strikers somewhat unwittingly led to a dramatic decrease in unionized labor power. Workers in the private sector had used the strike as a tool of leverage since World War II. But after Patco, that weapon was largely lost. Reagan’s unprecedented dismissal of skilled public workers encouraged private employers to follow suit. Phelps Dodge and International Paper were among the companies that imitated Reagan by replacing strikers rather than negotiating with them.
Over time, the rightward-shifting Republican Party has come to view Reagan’s mass firing not as a focused effort to stop one rogue union from breaking the law (as Reagan sold it). Rather, it was a blow against unionism itself. Without a counterweight to management power, it's not at all that surprising that upper management and shareholders have taken a larger and larger share of profits—and then used that newfound wealth to lobby for tax policies that let them keep as much of it as possible. Worse yet, they have conned working-class people into believing that the most affluent Americans are job creators right out of an Ayn Rand novel, and the rest of us are just leeching off their genius.
Since Reagan was the proto-neoconservative, anything he did was infallible, and his successors sought to mimic his every move. When you think Reagan, you think of small government, facing down foreign powers and giving the Democrats a drubbing. These are very much things the Republicans are still emphatic about accomplishing. When you think of Lincoln, you think of him freeing the slaves and reuniting a divided country using progressive social change. Not so much on the agenda right now. Reagan just makes a better philosophical touchstone for their immediate goals. This later led to the modern divide in the GOP though, with the whole neo and paleo divide, with the latter group being the self-anointed "Disciples of Reagan", while to the neoconservatives' credit, they have, as of late, proved to be far more reasonable, level-headed, and moderate than their Wacko-bird counterparts, being the far more Reagan-esque ones. Even creepier, the paleocons seem to have this odd Reagan fetish, continually wanting to stroke the Gipper whenever they get the chance. Likely, they do not even remember who in the nine circles of hell Reagan even was. The paleocons rose as reactionaries to the neoconservative policies at the time. Many of those former Reagan voters ended up endorsing, get this, Bill Clinton. That being said, save for maybe some guys down in the Rust Belt, the average supporter of the Ronald would not have voted for the Donald.
Though he generally did not discuss social issues, specifically while serving as president (most likely not to piss off his socially conservative supporters), Reagan, very similar to Barry Goldwater, seemed to be more in favor of things such as abortion and gay rights. Precisely, in regards to the former, his more tolerant stance on the issue is best indicated by the fact that he actually signed pro-choice bills while he served as governor of California. While Reagan is admittedly responsible for bringing the evangelicals into the Republican Party, he had always been aligned with the more libertarian "New Right" that arose during the 1960s, along with individuals such as Goldwater himself and National Review founder William F. Buckley. Though the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 took the Conservative Movement rightward, where the word "conservative" came to imply "social conservatism" as opposed to its original meaning in the 1960s. Back then, "conservatism" was less a reactionary fundamentalist dogma and was instead simply a term used to describe their ideological ethos, or "the conservation of Classical Liberalism" - when the Republicans actually wanted small government (not the "small" government they want today), cared about civil liberties, and considered themselves to be the "party of immigration" (New Deal social democrats generally opposed increased immigration, due to being supported by unions and being generally for a welfare state); also, ironically, one major issue that they passionately believed in was the Separation of Church and State. However, after twenty-five years of libertarian-dominance, Reagan and his GOP could do nothing to stop the Religious Right's steady coup to co-opt the party for their own, which would significantly affect specific issues.
But, in contrast to this much-forgotten Republican era of liberalism, it is also to be argued that the world in 1980 was not the same as it is today (like the Soviet Union not existing). Nonetheless, this minor temporal detail has not stopped various Republicans from claiming the mantle of (or being proclaimed as) the Second Coming of Reagan.
It's gotten so bad that Republican strategists believe it's singlehandedly suffocating the party.
Reagan and astrology
Reagan's wife Nancy was obsessed with astrology (apparently the administration's "most closely guarded secret"), and this brand of woo played a large role in the Reagan White House, even affecting the scheduling of the Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev. Strangely enough, this doesn't seem to have affected his support from the fundie base one jot or tittle.
Reagan's policies today
Hilariously, if Ronald Reagan were to run today, he would probably be considered a RINO given his willingness to raise the capital gains tax to 28%, refrain from waving an axe at Social Security, be prodded into funding Japanese reparations, pull out of Lebanon rather than 'stay the course,' and engage in diplomacy with the Soviets. He also supported, of all things, limited gun control, an end to the use of torture, and gave amnesty to more than 3 million undocumented immigrants, in addition to signing a pro-choice bill as Governor and setting up a healthcare system in California. Last but not least, like fellow episcopalian conservatives Barry Goldwater, Tucker Carlson, and Ron Paul, he, like most of his early party, was also a rather big fan of separation of church and state, much to the shock of many of today's religious ideologues.
Proud of His Ignorance
One of the most telling things about Reagan, especially at the time, is just how ignorant he was when compared to other Presidents. Ralph Nader once quipped that he was the first President to own more horses than books, and left-wing authors Mark Green and Gail MacColl wrote two entire books (There He Goes Again in 1983 and Reagan's Reign of Error in 1987) documenting his various mistakes over the course of his time in the public.
Mind you, everybody makes a mistake here or there--and even somebody unusually prone to slip ups wouldn't be a terrible political leader on the condition they were actually interested in the truth, and this is where Reagan's Administration really dropped the ball. On various occasions, they were caught directly lying to the American people, and instead of just admitting a mistake--or even attempting to defend it--they would just openly admit to not caring about how wrong they were. Examples include:
- Reagan cited a non-existent British law which states that a criminal found to be carrying a gun will be tried of first degree murder regardless of crime and executed if found guilty. When it was pointed out this was wrong, Press Secretary Larry Speaks simply said "Well, it's a good story though. It made the point, didn't it?"
- Reagan mocked then-President Jimmy Carter calling the economy a recession and not a depression, while adding that Reagan's misuse of the term "shows how little he knows." When Reagan's aide Lyn Nofziger was asked about, he said "I think it was Mondale who said that, and he didn't say it the same day [Reagan had said the economy was in a depression]. I think it was the day after, but it's good enough for us."
- When George H.W. Bush's Press Secretary was asked about mistakes Bush had made in a televised debate, he replied "if reporters document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, so what? Maybe two hundred people read it."
That Time Reagan Lied About Telling The Truth
Early on in his career, Reagan would tell a story about the importance of telling the truth: You see, back when he was playing for his High School Football team, Reagan scored what would have been the winning touchdown had he not been offside. Reagan then informed the ref about this, it was ruled a penalty, and his team lost the game--but nobody was angry because he told the truth.
When Reagan biographer Lou Cannon looked into this, he could only find one game which matched Reagan's description, and his team lost 24-0.:97
Quotes from (and about) the Great Communicator
- "Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did, to see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!" — racist phone conversation with Richard Nixon.
- "Facts are stupid things." A mangling of John Adams' famous comment, "Facts are stubborn things."
- "All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
- "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful." — explaining why he liked to have a jar of jelly beans on hand for important meetings.
- "The Sound of Music was on last night." — on why he went unprepared for the 1983 Williamsburg Economic Summit.
- "Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face." — on his Bible knowledge.
- “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” — on why he didn't leave the profession.
- "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about." — on getting suckered.
- "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
- "Don't be afraid to see what you see."
- "What would this country be without this great land of ours?"
- "Well, I learned a lot . . . I went down [to Latin America] to find out from them and [learn] their views. You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries."
- "You expect to see Jim Henson behind a curtain going, 'You moved him too far! Move his arms!'" — Robin Williams on Reagan's character tics.
- "He told me à propos Keynes that it must not be forgotten that he was a homosexual." — The British Ambassador to the US, explaining how Ronnie made his economic decisions.
- "What do I "think" of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: I don't think of him. And the more I see, the less I think." — Ayn Rand
- "I only saw him once up close, which happened to be when he got a question he didn't like. Was it true that his staff in the 1980 debates had stolen President Carter's briefing book? (They had.) The famously genial grin turned into a rictus of senile fury: I was looking at a cruel and stupid lizard." — Christopher Hitchens
- "You don't bury someone for five days...I thought that maybe they were burying him with spoons." — Lewis Black on Reagan's funeral procession.
- "President Reagan is a man with a very special sense of religion. Reagan sees a proper role for government and a proper role for God. It's very simple: Reagan's government helps the rich, and God helps the rest of us." - Cesar Chavez
- "When you talk to Reagan, you sometimes wonder why it occurred to anyone that he should be president, or even governor. But what you historians have to explained is how so un unintellectual a man could have dominated California for eight years, and Washington already for nearly seven." - Henry Kissinger
- "He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace." - House Speaker Tip O'Neill
- "Emerging from a particularly credulous Southern California culture, Nancy and Ronald Reagan relied on an astrologer in private and public matters — unknown to the voting public. Some portion of the decision-making that influences the future of our civilization is plainly in the hands of charlatans." - Carl Sagan
- "Reagan doesn't understand numbers. Every time the figures point to trouble, Reagan rebuts them with a personal anecdote." - White House Aide
- George H.W. Bush, his VP who later became President right after; the only time post-term limits that a single party controlled the White House for three straight terms.
- Carnivora — a "nutriceutical" that the makers claim saved Reagan's life. Or something.
- Milton Friedman, one of the founding fathers of Reagan's neoliberal ideology.
- John F. Kennedy
- Jeane Kirkpatrick, his Ambassador to the United Nations, a hardline neoconservative who defended authoritarian regimes as long as they supported the United States.
- C. Everett Koop
- Richard Nixon, who paved the way for Reagan's rise.
- Grover Norquist, a rabid hater of taxes and government who started the Reagan Legacy Project with a goal of memorializing Reagan in all 50 states.
- Barack Obama, same charisma, same adulation from partisans, same fundamental misunderstandings of their political legacies.[note 7]
- Plausible deniability, the only way he managed to avoid so many scandals despite evidence directly implicating him multiple times.
- Reaganism, which he perfected after Nixon pioneered it.
- Red Dawn
- Bernie Sanders, whose policies read like a direct repudiation of Reaganism.
- The "Iron Lady", his British counterpart.
- Trees cause pollution
- Donald Trump - The "Party of Reagan" was always going to become the "Party of Trump." The GOP did not "lose their way," they reached their destination.[note 8]
- Wingnut, many of which he empowered or influenced.
- Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave to Lead GOP - All hail!
- He also comes in supercomputer format.
- The quotes that make nuclear historians shudder.
- How the Bible of Reagan shapes Republican politics
- See the Wikipedia article on October Surprise conspiracy theory.
- Reagan sleepy...
- You would expect conservatives to mention this more often. But no, "the greatness of American military power" is apparently a better argument than "the command economy was woefully inefficient all along."
- What is missing from this picture is the role of the 1975 Helsinki Accords which enabled dissidents through the USSR assenting, in principle, to respect "human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief". The Accords were negotiated by
Gerald Who?Gerald Ford although Henry Kissinger saw the whole deal as liberal window dressing. By contrast, Ford's successor, SatanJimmy Carter, used the USSR's recognition of these human rights to expose the Soviet hypocrisy in proclaiming all kinds of human rights on paper while remaining a totalitarian dictatorship
- They would override his veto with a supermajority, the only time in the 20th century a foreign policy veto was quashed.
- See Coit v. Green and the Civil Rights Restoration Act veto. Reagan also pandered to the John Birch Society on several occasions, including repeating the JBS's false claim that Martin Luther King Jr. was a communist.:219-220
- Reagan dramatically increased military aid to El Salvador at a time when the country's regular security forces and officially sanctioned government death squads killed or disappeared thousands of persons annually. The number of persons killed by the Salvadorian regime between 1978 and 1983 exceeds 40,000. Reagan also circumvented a 1977 arms embargo to send material support to the government in Guatemala, which was carrying out a genocidal counterinsurgency war against the indigenous population. Famously immortalized in a U2 song.
- Reagan is rightly remembered as a far-right extremist, but some of his policies were downright liberal compared to modern-day Republicans, like protecting Social Security (even correctly saying it has nothing to do with the deficit), signing an abortion bill into law (that he later denounced), passing gun control (only after black people armed themselves as a protest against police brutality), offering detente with the Soviet Union (even back then he was pilloried for talking to Gorbachev), and implementing amnesty for tens of millions of immigrants (which would get him expelled from the party if he did that today). Obama, remembered as a standard-bearer for liberalism, was downright conservative in many of his policies, personal beliefs, and general behavior as president and ex-president, and even admitted not only that he's more like a moderate Reagan Republican, but that Nixon was more liberal than him.
- Their parallels are outstanding. A longstanding, larger-than life pop culture personality with deep-seated racism who got his start as a bleeding-heart liberal, he took a hard right turn in his old age, ran on making America "great again," upended the landscape of what is thought to be "acceptable" in politics, implemented extreme far-right policies rooted in punishing people he deemed unworthy or subhuman, presided over untold human misery and many deaths due to his deliberate ignoring of a pandemic, supported and engineered the toppling of a leftist government in Latin America and its replacement by neofascists who massacred leftists and indigenous people, and paved the way for the Republican Party to become the far-right party they are today.
- Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine RateYourMusic.
- Reagan and Reality, The New York Times
- 08x22 - In Marge We Trust. The Simpsons Transcripts, 7 August 1998.
- Bill Hicks - Sane Man (1989). sublikescript.com.
- Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon: In newly unearthed audio, the then–California governor disparaged African delegates to the United Nations. by Tim Naftali (Jul 30, 2019) The Atlantic.
- Bennetts, Leslie, "Reagan With a New First Lady, a New Style", NYT 1.21.81.
- Andrew O'Hehir, Is Hillary Clinton the true heir of Ronald Reagan?. Salon, 2 August 2014.
- What Reagan Did for Hollywood, The Atlantic
- US/Canada comparison of productivity and compensation.
- Bush lied about his military service, and so did Reagan, Salon. (Bang! BLAM! Then we cut to commercial.)
- Military Service of Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum (reaganlibrary.gov).
- Scher, Bill, "When Reagan Dared to Say ‘God Bless America’", Politico 7.17.15.
- Weber, Peter, "How Ronald Reagan learned to love gun control", The Week 12.3.15.
- Pierce, Charles P., "The Ghost Of Ronald Reagan", Esquire 8.18.14.
- Reagan: "Fascism, isn’t that the liberal philosophy?’", 60 Minutes Overtime 12.14.75.
- Herbert, Bob, "Righting Reagan’s Wrongs?", NYT 11.13.07.
- Robert Lindsey, Only in California, The New York Times, 16 May 1982.
- Real Time with Bill Maher: Overtime. Real Time with Bill Maher, YouTube, 25 September 2015.
- Bill Maher New rules-- Ronald Reagan was the Original Teabagger. The BMView, YouTube, 2013.
- Edmund Morris Reagan and Alzheimer's. Newsweek, 23 January 2011.
Morris: "I was real proud when Dad came to my high school commencement," reports his son, Michael Reagan. After posing for photos with Michael and his classmates, the future president came up to him, looked right in his eyes, and said, "Hi, my name's Ronald Reagan. What's yours?" Poor Michael replied, "Dad, it's me. Your son. Mike.
- Michael D’Antonio, When Donald Trump Hated Ronald Reagan. Politico, 25 October 2015.
- Chomsky, Noam, Understanding Power p.54., Penguin Books (2002).
- Pitney Jr., John J., "Palin, The Second Coming Of Reagan", National Review Online (1/3/08, 11:50 AM). Michael Reagan: "Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he's a she."
- Kelley, Marty, "Donald Trump Is Your New Ronald Reagan, But Dumber And Less Classy", Wonkette (9/10/15 11:00 am).
- Cannon, Lou, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, PublicAffairs (2002). While he was governor, Reagan's aides had noticed early on that, in the words of Cannon, "he often did not remember what he had done and sometimes not even what he had said." (p. 630).
- Corn, David, "Nixon on Tape: Reagan Was 'Shallow' and of 'Limited Mental Capacity'", Mother Jones 11.15.02. Kissinger: He's shallow. He's got no—he's an actor. When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, 'Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can't you find a few good lines?' [Chuckles.] That's really an actor's approach to foreign policy."
- Plinkington, Ed, "Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer's while president, says son", The Guardian, (1/17/11 14.37 EST).
- "Michael Reagan Slams Brother for Implying Their Father Had Alzheimer's as President", Fox News, 1/15/11
- Johnston, David, "North Says Reagan Knew of Iran Deal", NYT 10.20.91.
- "Dear Diary: Getting shot hurts", Sydney Morning Herald (5/2/07 - 10:28AM).
- You thought we were kidding?!
- Graph source: Government Printing Office numbers
- Leung, Rebecca, "Bush Sought 'Way' To Invade Iraq?" CBS News 1.9.04.
- What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise by Ronald Reagan (10 November 1977) American Rhetoric.
- "The Magic of the Marketplace" by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway. In: Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, edited by Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer (2022) Basic Books. ISBN 1541601394. Pages 129-140.
- "The New Deal" by Eric Rauchway. In: Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, edited by Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer (2022) Basic Books. ISBN 1541601394. Pages 141-153.
- The Road to Serfdomby F. A. Hayek (1944) University of Chicago Press.
- Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman (1962) University of Chicago Press.
- Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund by Ronald Reagan (September 29, 1981) Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
- Seeds of its own destruction, Financial Times
- The Ultimate Scandal, New York Review of Books
- Krugman, Paul, "Reagan Was a Keynesian", NYT 7.7.12.
- Mandel, Michael J., "Reagan's Economic Legacy", Bloomberg.
- "The more experience I had with Soviet leaders and other heads of state who knew them, the more I began to realize that many Soviet officials feared us not only as adversaries but as potential aggressors who might hurl nuclear weapons at them in a first strike...if that was the case, I was even more anxious to get a top Soviet leader in a room alone and try to convince him we had no designs on the Soviet Union and Russians had nothing to fear from us." Then what was the point of your whole damn Doctrine?
- Newt Gingrich is a particularly good example. He called Reagan's summit with Gorbachev "the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich."
- Ronald Reagan's son says his father got the Saudis to pump more oil to undercut USSR, PolitiFact
- Walesa, Lech, "Lech Walesa on Reagan, Valley Patriot"
- "The View From The Gulag", The Weekly Standard
- "Gorbachev calls Reagan 'great president'", NBC News
- See the Wikipedia article on Reagan administration scandals.
- The 45 Biggest Homophobes of Our 45 Years, The Advocate
- Reagan's AIDS Legacy: Silence equals death, San Francisco Chronicle
- US government considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist until 2008, NBC (The administration's typical "He was a Marxist!" excuse could be seen straight through for what it was, even for Brian Mulroney.)
- His lies on the nature of apartheid would also pave the way for modern-day political fact-checking.
- "(You) will be judged harshly by history." - Desmund Tutu
- House And Senate Vote To Override Reagan On Rights by Irvin Molotsky (March 23, 1988) The New York Times.
- Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek (2023) Basic Books. ISBN 1541673565.
- Our Man in Africa, Foreign Policy
- "Hissene Habre: Chad's ex-ruler convicted of crimes against humanity". BBC. May 30, 2016.
- Lescaze, Lee, "The Reagan Organizational Style: Management, Over Easy", WaPo 1.20.81.
- Reilly Dowd, Ann, "What Managers Can Learn From Reagan", Fortune 9.15.86.
- Kilborn, Peter T., "Replacement Workers: Management's Big Gun", NYT 3.13.90.
- Rucker, Phillip, "Scott Walker calls Reagan’s bust of air traffic controller strike ‘most significant foreign policy decision’", WaPo 2.28.15.
- Bryson Hodel, Martha, "Real Wages, Union Strength Declining as Corporate Profits Rise : Labor: Some say workers' organizations need a shot in the arm. Upcoming AFL-CIO elections will pit the old guard against a new generation of leaders.", L.A. Times (via Associated Press), 9.8.95.
- Edsall, Thomas A., "Republicans Sure Love to Hate Unions", NYT 9.18.14. Steve Rosenthal of AFL-CIO: "Damn it, this guy was talking about his father and brother. He was pissed that his own father and brother had pensions.”
- Jeffrey Schmalz, The 1992 Election: The Nation's Voters; Clinton Carves a Wide Path Deep Into Reagan Country. The New York Times, 4 November 1992.
- "On Foreign Policy, Conservatives Should Leave Ronald Reagan Behind", Outside the Beltway (And this is relatively kind.)
- For another good example of crap like this (pay careful attention to Mitt Romney).
- "Ronald Reagan is dead and they need to accept it."
- Joan Quigley, Astrologer to a First Lady, Is Dead at 87, The New York Times
- Good Heavens!, CNN, May 16, 1988.
- Ronald Reagan actually used this San Francisco astrologist to make presidential decisions by Allen McDuffee, Timeline.com, May 30, 2017
- Civil Liberties Act of 1988, Densho Encyclopedia
- His own words
- Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention Against Torture and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment, UC Santa Barbara
- See the Wikipedia article on Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
- Reagan on separation of church and state(YouTube)
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 12
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 82 and 83
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 51
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 14
- Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations by Al Franken (Delacorte Press, 1996) ISBN 0-385-31474-4
- The best-placed irony.
- His statement was later dubbed onto a rap record by Jerry Harrison and Bootsy Collins.
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 31
- Reagan and Keynes: The Love that Dare Not Speak its Name, The New Yorker
- Hitchens, "The Stupidity of Ronald Reagan", 7.7.04.
- An Organizer's Tale: Speeches by Cesar Chavez
- The Clothes Have No Emperor by Paul Slansky
- The Demon-Haunted World
- Reagan's Reign of Error by Mark Green and Gail MacColl, page 17