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Romanticizing Reagan

Posted on February 7th, 2011 by Ben Spera

Now I know the title of this article alone is probably going to get some people ready to rumble, but just hear me out. I am by no means here to Reagan bash. He was a great president and arguably the best in recent times. I don’t deny that, what I take issue with is Reagan’s recent induction into sainthood, with people giving him a lot more credit than what he deserves. People inevitably tend to only remember the good things about people, and allow the not-so-good ones to fade in oblivion. It’s been twenty years, and a lot of things have faded from America’s memory. So next time you proclaim Reagan to be the savior of our republic, just keep what you read here in mind.

A few years ago Americans commonly used our founding fathers as a point of reference when highlighting how much we have digressed as a country. Returning to the principles of our founding fathers was a libertarian and conservative rallying call. Not so much any more. We continually hear Sarah Palin et al. refer to adhering to the principles of Reagan. Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, a liberal Democrat touting Roosevelt’s New Deal policies turned free market Republican, encouraging limited government and lower taxes and our obligation to fight communism wherever it may rear it’s ugly head. Reagan was among the first wave of disaffected Democrats who abandoned the party in the 1960’s.

President Reagan championed some very impressive feats, most importantly being the fall of the Soviet Union. He survived an assassination attempt early in his term, crediting God for saving his life ‘in order to go on and fulfill a greater purpose.’ Shortly afterward, he rolled up his sleeves and kicked off his presidency by busting an air traffic controller strike, firing over 11,000 workers who did not show up for work as ordered. During his two terms inflation dived from 12.5% to 4.4%, and unemployment followed, dropping from 7.1% to 5.5%.

Now, let’s take a step back and look at the other side. As a small government advocate, it seems a bit out of character that President Reagan declared the ever-losing War on Drugs. The same war that has ballooned police department budgets and prison populations, enacted harsh minimum penalties for offenders with non violent crimes (e.g. marijuana possession) and fueled the beginning of the loathed police state we now live in. It was Ronald Reagan who decided that police departments must earn their budget by submitting numbers, thus the citation quotas most departments use today. It was because of this you see officers constantly setting up speed traps and nailing citizens for relatively minor traffic violations. All to rack up statistics and maintain their department’s budget.

It was also Ronald Reagan who declared that the Taliban in Afghanistan were ‘the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers,’ and subsequently funded and trained Osama bin Laden, as well as funding and arming Saddam Hussein.  In the name of our war on communism he increased spending by 80% in his two terms, doubled the national deficit, nearly tripled the national debt and spent more in his 8 years in office than was spent in the 50 years prior. He paved the way for Clinton’s legal side stepping, when he was testifying over the Iran-Contra scandal and responded over 130 times with an “I don’t recall” or “I don’t remember.”

After being elected Governor of California, while running on a conservative platform, he increased state spending by 112% while also increasing personal income taxes by 60%, taxes on cigarettes by 200% and overall state tax collections by 152%.

More U.S. troops died during peacetime under Reagan’s administration than any other in history. After the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon, Reagan labeled the attack a ‘despicable act’ and promised not to cut and run. But to the contrary, Reagan ordered no response to the attack on American Marines, and soon after pulled them out of Lebanon.

This is the Tea Party’s model conservative? Out of all of the principled patriots that gave so much for our country this is the man they chose to knight as their leader? With real conservatives like our founding fathers I feel it’s a bit insulting to revert to modeling our revolution after one of the first RINOs in American history.


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