Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ronald Reagan: Worst President Ever?


Pres. R.Reagan 1981.

The article chosen as an example of hatred towards the presidency of Ronald Reagan was written in 2009. This shows that the information portrayed is given as a form of hindsight, rather than being written at the time when Reagan was actually in office. The article is written by an independent journalist (Robert Parry) so it's validity and ability to be generalised to the public (their opinion of Reagan) has to be questioned. Having been written after Reagan left office, it allows for comparisons between other (more recent) presidents and allows for a complete overview of his two terms in office (1981-1989), rather than what he has/has not accomplished (if it was written during these years).

The article describes how Reagan essentially reversed the progress made by Nixon, Carter and Ford during the 1970's of oil dependence, environmental degradation, the arms race and nuclear proliferation by ignoring these issues, which now plague the country once again, today. An example shown when attempting to deal with Detroit's manufacturing of cars, not encouraging them to build fuel efficient types, but rather declaring that Washington would not 'nag them'. This was summed up during the first inaugural address in 1981; "Government is not the solution, government is the problem".

The article also describes that Reagan received too much credit for the ending of the cold war. Members of the CIA (not named) maintain that the progress made by both Nixon and Ford essentially ended the cold war for Reagan. I think this has a degree of accuracy, as anyone that knows anything about the cold war naturally assumes that Reagan was responsible for the end of the cold war as it fell during his tenure as president, something which may not be wholly accurate.

Reagan was also responsible for placing the United States into an even more precarious situation economically which is represented in the following finding: The federal debt was $994 billion when Reagan took office in 1981, and grew to $2.9 trillion when his second term ended in 1989.

Lastly, the article explains how the concept of the 'American Dream' was negated during Reagan's administration, citing how CEOs now earned double what they had earned during previous administrations when compared to the salaries of their workers. Drug use among the poor soared, although this cannot be placed directly on Reagan's presidency as availability and production of drugs had increased dramatically compared to previous years. During his tenure it's described that 'white men were encouraged to see themselves as victims of ''reverse discrimination'' and ''political correctness'' which would explain his resounding victory over Carter and Mondale, winning with 489 and 525 electoral votes respectively in each of the elections (1980 & 1984).

Having looked at examples of more positive articles relating to Reagan's presidency, my opinion is not completely one sided when believing if Reagan's presidency was negative or positive, an opinion obviously supported by the American public during Reagan's terms when his approval rating fluctuated significantly (35%-70%) during his first and second terms as shown in the graph below:

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