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Article on why Ronald Reagan sucks: Ronald Reagan’s Good Rhetoric, Bad Policies, and Vile Followers


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Ronald Reagan’s recent passing has brought on a barrage of praise, both selective and exaggerated, from people across the political spectrum.

Conservatives, liberals, neo-cons and libertarians have shared their thoughts on the trumpeted legacy of America’s Great Communicator.

Most of the honest praise has focused on his rhetoric, much of which, I admit, was very appealing, and certainly more eloquent than what we’d expect to hear from the White House these days.

Reagan talked a good talk about shrinking the government, cutting taxes and spending. He gave sermons against Communism. He spoke well of liberty, individualism, and limited state power.

He condemned conscription. He brandished the Constitution. He espoused capitalism.

But what did he do?

As governor of California and president of the United States, he enacted policies that, in the main, greatly expanded the role and size of government.

As governor, he oversaw the largest tax increase in Californian history. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown cut back the tax rate when he came to office.

As president, Reagan expanded the federal government by about 90%.

Ah, but this was for defense, one might protest. And defense spending, according to the conventional wisdom, doesn’t count for some reason. In fact, defense spending is good for a "capitalist" economy, even though it was supposedly defense spending that brought down the Soviet economy. (I wonder if Reagan’s increases in California’s spending when he was governor can be attributed to a good-faith effort on his part to beat Oregon and Nevada in an arms race.)

All in all, Reagan allowed the welfare state to enlarge and the military budget to explode, causing monstrous budget deficits and government growth that dwarfs government growth under Clinton, even when Clinton had a Democratic Congress. Reagan’s tax cuts notwithstanding (some of which he reversed), the state grew fat and its growth will inevitably be financed through inflation or tax increases (unless the state defaults).

Reagan also bombed Libya, put the "war" in War on Drugs, allowed the continuation of Selective Service registration (despite his campaign promise to end it), helped the Khmer Rouge terrorize Thailand, imposed brutal trade sanctions on Nicaragua, funded the murderous brutal Contras, sold missiles to Iran, gave assistance to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and lied to the American people.

That he did all these things in the name of "freedom," "capitalism," "small government," and "liberty" renders his legacy, in my opinion, all the more insidious. If bad Reaganesque policies continue to have a pass because of their superficial rhetorical selling points, American liberty will have suffered, not strengthened, because of him.

Many Americans say Reagan was a man of principle, regardless of what else we might think of him. And yet I’ve heard few examples of how he acted on his principles. More often, I hear excuses that he had a principled ideology but failed to follow through.

Still, his rhetoric probably did bring a fair number of people around to adopting some good values. And even some of his policies – such as pulling out of Lebanon after terrorists bombed the Marine base in Beirut, lifting oil price controls, continuing Carter’s deregulation – were quite admirable, especially by today’s standards.

By and large, however, Reagan’s words are used to advance the power of the state. Many in today’s War Party, previously critical of Reagan’s relative restraint, claim that Reagan would have approved of their pet war in Iraq, when we do not know one way or the other if that is true.

They say Reagan made them revere liberty, and that their reverence towards liberty leads them to revere war.

They say that his words about the Soviet Union are applicable today, and that what we face now is Cold War II.

They say that Clinton and even Bush the Second haven’t sufficiently followed Reagan’s policy of bloated military spending and foreign bellicosity.

They have in the past compared him to Thomas Jefferson, when all the two presidents had in common was that their words were better than their presidencies. (Even this is a weak comparison, seeing as how President Jefferson actually shrank the government.)

Today’s champions of neo-Reaganism invoke the legacy of a man who practiced libertarian rhetoric and carried out a predominately statist agenda, and they do it to advance an agenda even more statist than Reagan’s.

As much as I think certain misanthropes distort and twist Reaganism to their devious purposes, it is no surprise that the Gipper would have such a vile following. No symbol is more useful in the advocacy of empire than a respected leader who glorified freedom even as he trampled it.

I can’t speak of Reagan the man, whom I never knew. It seems clear, however, that freedom lovers who mourn his passing should likewise mourn his legacy, which, as it stands, is hardly a cause for celebration.

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i feel the same way about Obama

KInd of apples and oranges. Reagan is described by some as one of the greatest Presidents in US history. He has a body of work to examine. Obama has been in office for six months. OTOH, if ever there were a cult of personality I think Reagan would fit that description. I think he was probably a really good guy and the definitive "guy I'd like to have a beer with" type of President. His foreign policy was a mixed bag. His supporters act like he took off his shirt, swam across the Atlantic and tore the Berlin Wall down. Six months in RR wasn;t looking so so def.

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Whoever wrote that "article" can't string two coherent sentences together. It reads like a high school civics paper.

A "C" high school civics paper.

For the record.

I have always said Reagan was the most over rated in history..... but this article is terrible.

Just more bias rhetoric.

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  • 1 year later...

I have always said Reagan was the most over rated in history..... but this article is terrible.

Just more bias rhetoric.

I agree about Reagan being over rated, I think he was a good at BS, and most people don't pay attention to how bad he really was. We as a country should have taken over the government at that time. Its pretty hard to do though, unless you are a 4 star general and get 3/4 of the military on your side! My late grandfather used to say that the world was going to **** in the 70's....he was right.

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No President was more overrated than Bill Clinton (maybe FDR). Clinton was a disaster his first two years and only after crawling in bed with Republicans did his Presidency survive. The left used to privately curse him while publicly praising him.

Edited by daroadrambler
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No President was more overrated than Bill Clinton (maybe FDR). Clinton was a disaster his first two years and only after crawling in bed with Republicans did his Presidency survive. The left used to privately curse him while publicly praising him.

Reagan's first 2 years were a disaster. Unemployment went from 7.2% to 10.8%. Point being, judging a President on the first 2 years is a silly waste of time.

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Funny how him and that wife of his never cared for "Dem stem cell learnin'" until they thought it could help him. Never mind the millions(including my own grandma) in the 80's who were suffering from alheizmers and needed the help....because helping people not yourself or family has Never been apart of the rich plan for politicians.

I only wish when he died that they used ALL of his money to give a shovel to everybody in America. Then we could dig a hole so deep that we could hand him over to Satan personally.

Happy Birthday Reagan!

Edited by Forever Julian
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Funny how him and that wife of his never cared for "Dem stem cell learnin'" until they thought it could help him. Never mind the millions(including my own grandma) in the 80's who were suffering from alheizmers and needed the help....because helping people not yourself or family has Never been apart of the rich plan for politicians.

I only wish when he died that they used ALL of his money to give a shovel to everybody in America. Then we could dig a hole so deep that we could hand him over to Satan personally.

Happy Birthday Reagan!

applause.gif

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No President was more overrated than Bill Clinton (maybe FDR). Clinton was a disaster his first two years and only after crawling in bed with Republicans did his Presidency survive. The left used to privately curse him while publicly praising him.

yea, that huge surplus he left GW to piss away sure had this country in the dumper, huh?

But we get it. Economy does good, not presidents fault unless prez is republican. Economy sucks..ALL presidents fault unless president is republican.

We get it.

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Funny how him and that wife of his never cared for "Dem stem cell learnin'" until they thought it could help him. Never mind the millions(including my own grandma) in the 80's who were suffering from alheizmers and needed the help....because helping people not yourself or family has Never been apart of the rich plan for politicians.

I only wish when he died that they used ALL of his money to give a shovel to everybody in America. Then we could dig a hole so deep that we could hand him over to Satan personally.

Happy Birthday Reagan!

I never knew RR opposed stem cell research. Link?

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There are many who claim Reagan "would have opposed SCR" by pointing to his opposition to abortion. I can also understand his reluctance to embrace the claims that any research group would make at the beginning of any new endeavor, especially when it takes aborted fetuses to drive the technology. I still dont see any evidence in his legislative history that he opposed SCR, if you find any I will gladly acknowledge your findings.

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yea, that huge surplus he left GW to piss away sure had this country in the dumper, huh?

But we get it. Economy does good, not presidents fault unless prez is republican. Economy sucks..ALL presidents fault unless president is republican.

We get it.

Don't fall victim to the fuzzy math. When Clinton left office we were 1.1 Trillion dollars in debt more than when he took office. You tell me how he left with a surpuls?

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