Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reagan Legacy

Amid the endless Reaganalia being spewed on TV and on the radio, I thought it was worth taking a moment to reflect on Reagan's legacy.

Ronald Reagan is credited with many things he did not do (ending the cold war, lowering taxes on the middle class) and is denied credit for things he did (increased the involvement of women in high government office, very little use of military force). The Reagan "legacy" is something of a mystery, I think, because of what the Republican party has done since 1994. Unlike GWB, Reagan was really a uniter, not a divider, with unparalleled levels of popular support and affection from our allies.

His foreign policy was hard to fathom. He saw communist boogeymen everywhere, but he was willing to negotiate about everything with Gorbachev. He may have hunted down the Achille Lauro terrorists, but he also retreated from terrorism in Lebanon in 1993 and had secret negotiations with terrorists in Iran. He funded the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, precursors of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and supported Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Reagan's foreign policy legacy may be this: he relentlessly steered a course from being one of two superpowers in 1981 to hegemony by 1989.

At home, he allowed Americans to quietly conclude the 1970s. To wit, the bulk of Americans viewed that Vietnam was a bad war, and that we had done enough on civil rights. Dreams of space exploration and eradicating diseases or poverty were deferred or put aside entirely. We gave up on public schools and universities. We accepted pollution, global warming, and drugs. In short, Ronald Reagan presided over the death of civic idealism. Ronald Reagan told us not to relate to the government as citizens working together, but as taxpayers working for ourselves.

I can't admire his vision, but I can acknowledge the depth of his success in achieving it.

1 comment:

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm not so sure Reagan was so adored by our allies. I was in Western Europe during the mid to late 80s and I can report that he was villified over there quite a bit. He was often ridiculed as a "cowboy" wannabe. His Latin American policies in particular were especially resented in Europe.

The deployment of medium range nuclear missiles in West Germany sparked protests that were only exceeded in size by those seen last year leading up to the invasion of Iraq.