Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don’t let the Reagan myth persuade you in 2012

Ronald Reagan’s image and demeanor was that of a folksy, soft-spoken cowboy. He wasn’t born a cowboy but decided to take on that persona. His speeches imparted American exceptionalism, and conveyed his perception of American values. He was witty and a master storyteller. He had an endearing personality that captured the American imagination.

On February 10, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service revealed its commemorative stamp honoring Ronald Reagan who would have been 100 yrs. old on February 6 . To honor this occasion, on the floors of the Senate and House members praised his presidency. As their standard-bearer, Republicans speak of him and of his conservatism with reverence, bestowing to him unrelenting ideological devotion.

Republicans have worshiped Reagan much in the same way many Americans have worshiped his friend John Wayne. And, of course, John Wayne all by himself won the war in the pacific, just as Ronald Reagan all by himself won the cold war, telling Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Ironically, a plaque inscription on Reagan’s desk reads, "There is no limit to what a man can do, or where he can go, if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."

The mass media, the entertainment industry, and popular culture have inculcated in Americans an illusion of how the quintessential American should look, act, speak, and even what values to embrace. In Reagan’s biography of John Wayne he quotes Elizabeth Taylor who said, "He gave the whole world the image of what an American should be." Ronald Reagan, too, gave Americans the image of what an American should be. The hero status that Americans have given to John Wayne and Ronald Reagan are exemplary of that indoctrination.

However, Reagan rarely attended church. His relationship with his children was distant and broken. He was the first U.S. President to have been divorced. Yet, then as now, Americans perceive him as someone who had exceptional family values.

Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, defense buildup, and turning a bad economy into a thriving economy are the main accomplishments attributed to his presidency. However, those who revere his memory conveniently forget the egregious policy choices of his presidency.

On Reagan's watch, record deficits raised the national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion

His pursuit of government deregulation resulted in the 1980s Savings and loan crisis. Seven hundred and forty seven institutions failed, and rescued with $160 billion of taxpayer monies.

The Iran-Contra affair was the largest political scandal in the 1980s. The Reagan administration illegally used proceeds from secret arms sales to Iran in order to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. In 1986, the International Court of Justice found the United States guilty of war crimes against Nicaragua.

During his political career, Ronald Reagan also revealed his egregious beliefs on the environment and social issues:

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying, “I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at gunpoint if necessary.” He opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Reagan described Medicaid recipients as "...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts.”

Reagan also told the story of a woman from Chicago's South Side arrested for welfare fraud: "She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.” To cite a case hyperbolically of extraordinary welfare fraud as if it were representative of all Medicaid recipients is unacceptable at best.

And, he had said at one time or another:

"If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so.”

“We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

“Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."

"Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation. So let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards for man-made sources."

"What we have found in this country, and maybe we're more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas."

So, folks, for those who are inclined to give Republicans their vote in 2012, you should really think twice about that decision.

Sources:

Ronald Reagan. (2011, February 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:44, February 10, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ronald_Reagan&oldid=413054025

Reagan administration scandals. (2011, February 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:46, February 10, 2011, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Reagan_administration_scandals&oldid=412030728

Reagan administration scandals. (2011, February 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:47, February 10, 2011, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Reagan_administration_scandals&oldid=412030728

Iran hostage crisis. (2011, February 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:48, February 10, 2011, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Iran_hostage_crisis&oldid=413040384

Iran–Contra affair. (2011, February 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:51, February 10, 2011, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Iran%E2%80%93Contra_affair&oldid=412730439

Domestic policy of the Ronald Reagan administration. (2011, February 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:51, February 10, 2011, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Domestic_policy_of_the_Ronald_Reagan_administration&oldid=412668423

Ronald Reagan,
Unforgettable John Wayne, jwplace.com

Ronald Reagan Quotes,
Brainy Quotes, http://www.brainyquote.com

Richard Norton Smith,
Reagan Revelation: At 100, Why He Still Matters, Time.com

Jonathan Martin & James Hohmann, Palin, GOP reach for Reagan again, Politico.com

Jonathan Martin & James Hohmann, GOP frets over Reagan mythmaking, Politico.com

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