REPLY TO AN AMERICAN: RONALD REAGAN
We recently received a question about our “logo” of the picture of the Four Great Americans: Lincoln, Kennedy, King, and Reagan. It stated: “… Hey not picking on you out for any reason, but can you explain why Reagan is on of the pics you are using? Is this like a game of which one of these things is not like the other? Reagan was the guy who put us on the path to where we are now. Not to mention he was drug and gun runner.”
Ronald Reagan was originally a Democrat. There are many biographies recounting how he felt that his Party was changing, focusing on more and bigger government under FDR, and so he left the Party and became a Republican. However, numerous historians agree that his fundamental principles were very similar to John Kennedy – faith in individual citizens and their hopes and dreams, faith in the American spirit of full education and promoting technology to make all lives better, not using government as a panacea, and being mindful of the limits of government.
Importantly, Reagan was perhaps the most effective President in curbing the exponential growth of government, and recognized that government should only do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. His famous quote echoes today as it did in 1964: “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”
As noted in https://www.cato.org/blog/government-program-immortality, Reagan apparently borrowed the idea from Senator James F. Byrnes (D-SC), who stated on the floor of the Senate in 1933: “The nearest earthly approach to immortality is a bureau of the federal government.” The source is “Reorganization of Federal Administrative Agencies,” Congressional Quarterly, September 17, 1933. The article is a reminder that concerns about government waste, duplication, overlap, and inefficiency certainly did not start with Reagan. Government failure has been around a long time.
The CQ article notes that the 1932 Democratic platform called for “an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 percent in the cost of the federal government.” That leaner-government policy was not exactly the approach followed by FDR, but it does reflect that early in Reagan’s life the Democrat Party was NOT the party of “Big Intrusive Government”.
With regard to the observation on “Iran/Contra”, we note History acknowledges the “Iran/Contra” conundrum, however it is too complex to discuss in a single blog – we suggest readers take time to research the issue from impartial sources, and an ok superficial discussion was provided by PBS at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/reagan-iran/
However, it is interesting that a virtually IDENTICAL situation existed for President Obama. “Fast and Furious” gunrunning, and providing clandestine support for various rebel groups (i.e., Muslim Brotherhood, et al) occurred under President Obama and at his direction. In fairness to Presidents Reagan and Obama, American Presidents of both parties have done this when “stymied” by Congressional intervention. Reagan is certainly comparable to Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama in use of such strategies. Indeed, even President Kennedy had the CIA’s “Bay of Pigs” invasion occur on his watch and historians all agree he could have simply stopped it; and even President Eisenhower installed the Shah of Iran into power (actually, that was a good thing, in retrospect, all things considered).
But returning to “why Reagan” – like Martin Luther King, Reagan helped America rekindle the dream of John F. Kennedy and the faith in the goodness of Americans. As Reagan said: “I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.”
Reagan also was successful in negating the Soviet Union – as he said in June 12, 1987: “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”! Avoiding a war with the World’s Number One terror dictatorship and bringing them down (and giving President’s Bush and Clinton 16 years of significantly reduced global threat from a nuclear power), certainly cements Reagan’s place as a former Democrat who shared most of the principles of President Kennedy (“Ich bin ein Berliner”).
Lastly, Reagan had what no President has had before or since – a great sense of humor and an ability to work across BOTH political spectrums. Unfortunately, America desperately needs another “Great Communicator”, and a “principle-centered” leader who can work with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Reading our positions, we note only Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is the only Democrat willing to work across the aisle – a problem that is furthering the political divide in American and fueling the Second American Civil War.
We acknowledge Reagan, as a former Democrat, who only left the Party because the Party changed from “Power to the People”, to “Power to the Government” in the 1930s.
Reagan tried to divert America from the path we actually took under Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama – where government becomes more powerful, more intrusive, and evolves into an entity which defines what is permissible thought and action. He was successful, but 32 years later – the Washington Power establishment has largely negated his policies and the Liberal Elites and Left Wing Media have tried to vilify him…
We hope this brief reply was thought provoking enough to encourage further research.