There seems to be a lot of confusion lately about the use and presentation of Ronald Reagan’s name, image and legacy by those on the so-called left and those on right. Let’s look at this phenomenon a little bit more closely.
There are a number of factors going on here. One is the typical nostalgia of the past that happens in society. The belief that times gone by were better than today. Whether they were or not is irrelevant. In our heads, they tend to become golden. We tend to see them as easier times. We look back to the 80s and we forget the hardships. In the case of Reagan, the upside of his presidency is put forth, by both Democrats and Republicans. This is easy to do, since both are putting up the same information! They are both pointing out that Reagan inherited an economy that was in poor shape, and by using government spending, the economy did, in fact, rebound over the next 8 years.
Both leave out those little details like the Iran-Contra affair, trading arms for hostages, the multiple crises around the world, the cold war that was still going on, the turmoil we felt, the bombings of abortion clinics, and so on. The leave out the role that he and his administration played in these things. They leave out the strong allegations that he negotiated with Iran to hold American hostages past the election so that President Carter would not get credit for their release and thus gain any advantage in the election.
Of course, the so-called left is far more honest about it, as usual. The right is doing so with the intent of trying to show the incompetence of Obama, so they leave out the facts that Reagan raised taxes 11 times during those years, so that while some taxes did go down, overall the top marginal income tax rate stayed at 50% throughout Reagan’s presidency. Reagan himself argued for closing loop holes, because, as he said:
And, because the right loves to argue this is taken out of context, here is a link to the transcript of the entire speech. What you will find is that it is not taken out of context at all. What makes it so clear that it is not taken out of context is the call and response you see in the video, “Do you think that the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?” and the crowd’s response, “MORE” which is met, not with protests from that Lion of the Right, but rather with a gleam in his eye and an approving chuckle. This rather interesting, and short article on NPR, nicely sums up a balanced look at this issue.
However, what is more important to me, is that the moderates often misunderstand. In this context, by moderates, I sadly mean those who not only consider themselves moderate, but often those who consider themselves liberal as well. You see, I expect those on the right to misunderstand either deliberately or otherwise. That makes sense. They are stuck in their religious devotion to a dogma which is not supported by the facts.
I will reiterate the same challenge that I issue repeatedly. It is a standing challenge. Show me the facts which support continuing, much less increasing, the economic policies which led us to the situation we are in now. I do not believe that they exist. Every shred of datum shows that these policies are destructive to the very free market and economy that the right purports to support and believe in. Not cherry picked data that leaves out the big picture, but the whole set. Don’t try to show me one month here and there in a ten year period and claim success. We can look at it on your terms, but it must be contiguous, whole, long term data.
But, I digress.
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