Legacy of a Leader (1)

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Ronald Wilson Reagan, as 40th President of the United States, entered office on January 20, 1981, concluding a period characterized by political instability and social upheaval. Upon inauguration, at 70 years of age, Reagan became the oldest person, and only professional actor to ever serve as President.

His celebrity status alone transformed American perception of subsequent presidents.  Hence, “The Great Communicator”, became a name associated with his effective exploitation of language and television to present administrative platforms. Reagan’s inauguration, following an overwhelming landslide victory, signifies the reassertion of Republican power in Congress, and overall shift toward conservative values among mainstream Americans.

ReaganThis ideological transition most unequivocally reflects the failed administration of his liberal predecessor Jimmy Carter. Until this time, many people shunned voting Republican due to the residual blemish of Watergate. Nonetheless, Reagan’s popularity prevailed. Unlike other presidential incumbents, Reagan stayed true to his party and the conservative principles he championed. Already an American icon by reputation, he eventually progressed to become perhaps the most influential government leader in all of 20th century world history. Few presidents faced adversity with more resolution than Reagan. By conquering communism and its virulent dissemination, his bold initiative alone stands as testament to his profound historical influence.

Reagan asserted an aggressive position in both foreign and domestic affairs. He pursued an international policy similar to that of Theodore Roosevelt, popularized by the aphorism, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”. His political strategy remained modestly isolationist preserving neutrality, yet exercising authoritative intervention when provoked. In foreign affairs, Reagan maneuvered with diplomatic dexterity, deterring countries deemed potentially dangerous, while preserving peace with amiable nations.

Such initiative successfully defeated the virulent Soviet machine, and inhibited further diffusion of Communism. Regarding domestic relations, Reagan supported a balanced limited government. He even renovated traditional federalism.  Thus, Reagan advocated the democratic principles intended by our constitutional framers.

A preeminent proponent of capitalism, Reagan revitalized the sluggish U.S. economy, emphasizing supply side economics which stimulated commercial activity and suppressed inflation. To catalyze this effect, the Reagan administration minimized bureaucratic spending and superfluous tax confiscation. He sought an unregulated laissez faire strategy to corporate enterprise. Moreover, Reagan strengthened defense capability to prevent terrorism, and restored moral awareness in American culture. Furthermore, he nominated individuals who truly shared his traditional federalist values to serve as Supreme Court Judges.

Thus, reshaping U.S. foreign and domestic affairs, Reagan offers an unprecedented legacy. Ronald Reagan not only revolutionized the modern presidency through various practices he standardized, consolidating national defense, restoring economic strength and military infrastructure to America, his formidable contributions prove a paragon for successors in 21st Century international politics.

Before Reagan entered office, American society appeared tumultuous. Torn between economic pressure and political strife, conditions seemed more than favorable for a formidable leader to emerge. Former President Jimmy Carter acted aimlessly during his single term. Politically impotent, he left America saturated in turmoil. Incapacitated and defeated, Carter departed the presidency with, “runaway inflation, gasoline shortage, and a lingering hostage crisis in Iran,” (De GregarioThe Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, 643).

After witnessing such pervasive destruction resulting from powerless presidents, people pondered whether America’s presidency might ever return to its original, “center of national consciousness which once existed between 1933 and 1973,” (Gould, The Modern American Presidency, 190).  Finally after years of tribulation and nostalgic yearnings, Ronald Reagan arrived in 1980, “reviving the modern presidency institutionally, and serving two complete terms; an achievement not pursued by any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower,” (Gould, The Modern American Presidency, 191). His conservative brand of reconstruction revolutionized the modern presidency.

Concluding political disjunction, Reagan offered reconstruction. Prolific author Stephen Skowronek in his prominent publication, “The Politics Presidents Make” outlines the presidential patterns persistently reverberated throughout past and present American history. According to Skowronek, presidential tenure characterizes one of two phases; disjunction and reconstruction. So the pattern follows, disjunction, a period defined by decline, always precedes reconstruction. Indeed, an era denoting “disjunction” inevitably foreshadows presidential reconstruction. Why?  Consider common sense application.

Any reasonable historian realizes the profound sociological impact of causation. Antecedent events inevitably cause a specific arrangement of consequences. When society witnesses decline, history facilitates the emergence of a remarkable leader to offer reconstruction. The Civil War references one example. Abraham Lincoln, a monumental leader, emerged to prominence under the most favorable circumstances, when society desperately demanded restoration. Only Lincoln possessed the quintessential qualities needed to restore prosperity in American society.

The same principle applies for Ronald Reagan.  Problematic circumstances necessitate reform, and history creates a context for its predestined leaders to provide such rehabilitation. The presidency repeats this same cyclical pattern throughout American history. Consider Skowronek’s historical analysis regarding the tremendous sociological influence upon Ronald Reagan, particularly, how history paved his emergence as a brilliant leader.

After waiting “28 years”, Republicans assembled senatorial control, dominating the disarrayed and discombobulated Democratic Party, as its administration quickly fashioned a functioning majority within Congress’ House of Representatives (Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make, 414).  Again, the promotion of Ronald Reagan as president appeared almost inevitable. The decline of American society produced an ideal atmosphere to catalyze Reagan’s emergence. Hence, history provided the most favorable conditions for a quintessential leader such as Ronald Reagan, to assert political prominence and become president.

Everything happened as anticipated. Apparently, he emerged under, “circumstances that recalled the profound reconstructive crusades of America’s history,” (Skowronek – The Politics Presidents Make, 414). President Richard Nixon said it best with the engaging assertion, “Ronald Reagan has been justified by what has happened. History has justified his leadership,” (D’Souza, 9). The desperate demand for resolution, in combination with his magnanimity, celebrated personality, and aura of political prestige, certainly precipitated Reagan’s emergence as a powerful president.

Reagan possessed a rare exceptional aptitude to connect with all kinds of diverse people among varied social status.  Unlike his predecessors, who predominantly came from affluent aristocratic families, already actively involved in politics, Reagan’s humble beginnings, exposed to arduous hardworking middle class conditions, endowed him with a true sense of empathy toward the American people and their struggles. Indeed, the Reagan family suffered impoverished surroundings during his childhood. However, while Reagan, “acknowledged” his family’s “precarious economic status,” he never perceived himself as poor since many people experienced similar circumstances, in addition to their constant humanitarian efforts, “always others less fortunate,” (D’Souza, 38).  Peggy Noonan, specialist assistant to President Reagan from 1984 to 1986, astutely described Reagan’s beginnings as the “most modest and lacking of any president,” within this past century (Noonan, 17).  Fostered under such a modest environment, his childhood inculcated the invaluable quality of determination and perseverance.

Yet, as Reagan subsequently progressed in societal status, acquiring both fame and fortune, attaining prominence as a successful actor, he eventually cultivated the soft, personal skills, extroverted demeanor and etiquette highly regarded among wealthier classes. The “new money” status added a new dimension to his penetrating personality.  From an allegorical perspective, Reagan represented, “a real-life Gatsby,” whom F. Scott Fitzgerald recognized as exhibiting, “an extraordinary gift for hope,” (D’Souza, 36).  He combined the rigorous tough-minded strength that molded him during youth and early military service in World War II, with an urbane, smooth, attractive style, which gave roundness to his bold character.

Hence, his historical lifetime experience facilitated the development of a very versatile character, one who truly understood fundamental needs concerning Americans, and the prodigious ability to empathize with their struggles. Furthermore, his indiscriminate understanding of others overcomes prejudicial barriers. Reagan truly retained unique interpersonal skills, an inherent gift refined from his personal background. Superseding societal constraints, he related to anyone from across generations.

A genuinely charismatic figure painted by his Hollywood persona and time served as Governor of California, Reagan generated instant recognition for office. Besides fame, Reagan projected a unique aura unavailable to his predecessors. His inherently vibrant versatile character, integrating unabated toughness and calm congeniality quelled even the harshest of opponents. He combined callous resistance with kind candor, while simultaneously juxtaposing intellectual sharpness and soft charm in synergistic blend.  Humorous yet authoritative, ordinary though heroic, individual nonetheless representative, Reagan “embodied a sonorous, multidimensional character; one that transcended Kennedy in mythic resonance,” (Nelson –The Presidency and the Political System, 301).

Reagan naturally blended joviality with authority, expressing a warm grin, “to remove any intimations of callousness,” (Nelson –The Presidency and the Political System, 301). Thus, he disguised his innate aggressiveness with wittiness, usually followed by a, “characteristically clever one-liner,” (Nelson –The Presidency and the Political System, 301). Also, his prolific masculine image, as portrayed prospered. The American people instantly saw an indefatigable crusader, that even at age seventy, “rode horses, exercised vigorously, and commonly identified himself with Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone among celebrity tough guys,” (Nelson –The Presidency and the Political System, 301).

Those who personally knew Reagan regarded him as a sanguine individual, both, “even-tempered, and forever optimistic,” (De GregarioThe Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, 634).  He possessed a mesmerizing attractiveness, capable of hypnotizing anyone, including leftists.  For this reason, some deemed him much more politically moderate than appeared true.  Even the liberal New York Times once stipulated that, “his aw-shucks manner and charming good looks disarm those who distantly perceive him as a far right fanatic,” (H. Smith, “Reagan: The Man, The President.” 152).

Interestingly, Reagan experienced an ideological metamorphosis in political affiliation, further supplementing the highly attractive, relatively moderate appeal attributed to his character. For example, following the liberal traditions inculcated by his father Jack Reagan, Ronald originally initiated himself politically as a Democrat. After returning from World War II as Captain and reserve cavalry officer, he voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, supporting the New Deal. When Reagan returned to Warner Brothers in Hollywood, he joined, “the left leaning American Veterans Committee” and served as a committee board constituent for Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of Arts (Evans, 6). However, he later delivered presidential speeches for Harry Truman and even, “campaigned in support of Helen Gahagan Douglas, who ran as senator against Richard Nixon,” (De GregarioThe Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, 641).  By this time, Reagan progressively became a staunch social and fiscal conservative.

As President of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan pursued a career that ultimately preordained his direction into politics. Elected twice, his tenure lasted from 1947-1960. On October 23, 1947, Reagan testified as witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) against communism, and secretly reported any actions of American disloyalty, to the FBI under the code name “Agent T-10” (Reagan, 1947 HUAC testimony, 1). Reagan also exhibited no reluctance toward blacklisting. Ironically, private documents reveal that Reagan supposedly condemned the unnecessary, “witch hunting tactics Congress imposed in conducting its investigation,” (De GregarioThe Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, 641).

In the 1948 presidential election, still registered as a Democrat, Reagan solicited tremendous support, campaigning for Harry Truman (Encyclopedia Britannica Profiles – The American Presidency, Ronald Reagan, 1). Then in the fifties and most especially early sixties, Reagan officially converted to conservatism. His allegiance to the Democratic Party ended in 1952 (American National Biography Online, 2). The Republican Party appeared more compatible with his newly adopted conservative values. Identifying the Republicans as more considerably capable of combating communism, he gradually abandoned his left-leanings, supporting the presidential candidacies of Dwight Eisenhower from 1952-56 and then Richard Nixon in 1960. In 1962, Reagan formally registered himself a Republican and began to campaign for Barry Goldwater two years later. He drastically transformed, “from the near hopeless hemophiliac liberal who bled for causes, to an ardently conservative Republican,” (De GregarioThe Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, 641).

Several motivational factors account for Reagan’s ideological metamorphosis. By the 1950s, communism emerged to fruition, caused considerable concern. At an impressionable age, after finishing his military service in World War II, Reagan seemed reluctantly susceptible to the ambivalent political environment evolving during that era. As Noonan verbatim asserts, “Reagan was trying to remain a liberal at a moment when it seemed to him that liberals had gone blind,” (Noonan, 60). Communism heightened apprehension as it permeated the international landscape. To America, witnessing its destructive imperialistic influence posed by Joseph Stalin, communism surfaced as the driving force of fear, an imminent threat targeting U.S. interests.  Hence, the Cold War, a cultural war analogous to America’s contemporary War against Terror, commenced, in its preliminary premature phase of development. Fear served as the impetus of ideological transition, inculcating a rather reactionary response in American perception. The wave of McCarthyism and conservative sentiment served as a national defense mechanism to preserve authoritative order, in protection against communist virulence.

Consequently, since communism proved a direct threat to U.S. interests, impassioned conservatism surfaced in the mindset of mainstream Americans. As Americans feared that communism threatened its conventional constitutional values, the strong capitalistic spirit and democratic fervor representing our national heritage, conservatism dominated American perception.  Reagan, a true advocate of American democracy, passionate and patriotic, remained predisposed to this proud attitude, affirming the libertarian values founded by our constitutional framers. Reagan and several other similar-minded actors collectively participating in the de Haviland group promulgated a statement of policy reflecting such principles, which announced, “We reaffirm our belief in free enterprise and the democratic system and repudiate communism as desirable for the United States,” (Noonan, 59).

By now, Reagan maintained a moderate posture in politics.  Again, he condemned the leftist propagandist platform endorsed by Hollywood, and their soft passive position concerning communism, yet eschewed such “wrongful” accusations that portrayed certain individuals as “communists” just because they espoused liberalism (Noonan, 64). Even so, from Reagan’s perspective, he retained the same central “basic values” he always favored, solid commitment to democratic principle, and thus never underwent, “any radical [ideological] transformation,” (Noonan, 60). So, whether conservative or liberal, Reagan believed in the promise of democratic freedom. However, he soon began to realize the unrealistic, naïve approach of traditional liberal doctrine in America.

Even some good liberals, individuals who favor democratic principles, passively acquiesced to communism. Predominantly supporting its socialistic orientation, they embraced such egalitarian interests, advocating social welfare for destitute Americans, at the unfortunate detrimental expense of capitalistic opportunity. Thus, young Reagan, a political moderate espousing many liberal beliefs, felt totally out of place in this ambivalent climate caught between two ideological extremes. Conversely, the extreme leftists, especially many Hollywood celebrities, with their subversive disposition, sought communist takeover. Indeed, they shared the views of Vladimir Lenin, pushing for an international revolution, subsumed and subjugated by communist oppression.

Therefore, during a vulnerable uncertain period in U.S. history, endangered by communism, the earliest manifestations of Cold War tensions stimulated conservative reaction, which perhaps explains one factor influencing Ronald Reagan and his ideological transition to traditional American conservatism. The historical climate in America encouraged Reagan’s ideological transition. His conservative awakening only began to materialize. Yet, other contributing reasons account for this transition.

Many people often neglect the profound ideological impact of Ronald’s wife, Nancy Reagan, fostered in a conventional conservative environment, reinforced by commitment to abundant family traditions. Raised in the conservative tradition, Nancy obviously wielded profound influence upon Reagan’s ideological interpretation and political perspective. Like Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, among other strong women throughout American history, Nancy Reagan assumed an aggressive role in her husband’s presidential policy. She exercised tremendous influence regarding various and sundry personal issues. Ultimately, Nancy not only played a pivotal role in Ronald Reagan’s ideological transition, but asserted active administrative involvement throughout his presidential tenure. The preeminent “politician’s wife”, Nancy’s tenacity to tackle “tough measures” and prevent anyone from undermining his reputation, because she understood her “role very well,” proved an invaluable utility (D’Souza, 221, 32).

Few people examine his ‘conversion to conservatism’ better than Thomas Evans, attorney and former chair of the Reagan administration’s national symposium on partnerships in education. In his distinguished book, “The Education of Ronald Reagan – The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of his Conversion to Conservatism” Evans documents the personal struggles Reagan endured during his dramatic ideological transformation from liberal to conservative. For example, the 1946 strike, perhaps, “the greatest year of strike activity since 1919,” as one labor historian concluded, caused serious repercussions that compelled Reagan to rethink his political philosophy (Evans, 34).

According to D’Szoua, “when Reagan travelled the country for General Electric,” he soon recognized political usurpation, “a degree of government intrusion in people’s lives that threatened their fundamental liberties,” (D’Souza, 60). He witnessed the democratic violations that deprived good Americans of the individual freedom guaranteed by our constitutional foundation, through his participation in GE. Thomas Evans shared this same mutual consensus with Dinesh D’ Souza. However, Evans delves one step further. The strike exercised tremendous sociological influence upon Reagan’s political perception.

As Evans asserts, “dealing with the intersection of long-range goals and immediate, unexpected crises occurring on a number of independent fronts – presented a unique opportunity to learn, one that few men and women,” in public office ever experience (Evans, 127). Reagan received the honorary privilege to prosper in knowledge, facilitating his intellectual advancement. He assimilated insight not ordinarily available to persons in his position, associating with prominent individuals, particularly Lemuel Boulware and Laurence Beilenson, who stimulated Reagan’s personal enlightenment. Therefore, Evans references the educational context that facilitated Reagan’s conversion to conservatism, through his participation in G.E.

Ronald Reagan’s superior postgraduate education while representing General Electric, experiencing the aesthetic beauty of American corporate initiative and capitalistic spirit, profoundly influenced his political perspective concerning democratic opportunity.  Hence, he soon developed a sincere appreciation for private business. Assuming position of student, Reagan learned extensively from his role model and political mentor, the highly influential Lemuel Boulware.

Under the guiding tutelage of Boulware, Reagan in time cultivated scholarly erudition. Established in 1956, the General Electric Company, located at Ossining, New York, offered a formidable educational facility, with its own independent, “learning center and recreation building,” (Evans, 69). It accommodated, “more students, 32,000, than most universities,” (Time, 76).  Here, Reagan acquired access to, “lessons and texts,” that specifically provided powerful pedagogical resources for “middle management” workers of the company (Evans, 69). Reagan developed a sophisticated understanding of the U.S. economic system, which proved instrumental to his subsequent conservative fiscal policy strategy as president. Reagan later recalls his transformational, “post-graduate education in political science,” and, “apprenticeship for public life,” paving the road to his political prominence (Evans, 38). Moreover, he established sincere camaraderie and, “rapport with General Electric” employees, invaluable connections that benefitted him overwhelmingly in upcoming years (Evans, 113).

Evans demonstrates that Boulware, conspicuous spokesperson for GE, played a pivotal role in the political transformation of Ronald Reagan. A notable individual, or “manager extraordinaire” as Evans describes, Boulware, regarded among, “the most influential executives,” emerged to leadership in General Electric, teaching political economics (Evans, 38).  He believed education an invaluable and indispensable element to economic prosperity.

With compelling conviction, Boulware influenced employees. In one particular speech, pontificating before his students, he articulated, “…incredible achievements to show for our management of the business side of our wonderful system of freedoms, incentives, and competition…,” (Evans, 42). Like Adam Smith, Boulware championed corporate opportunity, inculcating such lofty capitalistic values into workers. Boulware condemned the socialistic oriented union institutions that undermined and disparaged free enterprise. Envision the tenacity of this gentleman. Boulware not only wanted businessmen to ameliorate their personal reputation, he desired that they become engrossed in, “process of conveying his messages,” (Evans, 43). Therefore, Lemuel Boulware deserves partial credit to the innovative genius of Reaganomics, which Reagan subsequently grandfathered as his brainchild.

Boulware facilitated the foundation of conservatism for Ronald Reagan. Reagan and Boulware worked in “close proximity” for seven years, assuming the relationship role of “mentorship” (Evan, 11). Here, Reagan became exposed to the destructive nature pervading avaricious labor unions, challenging his dogmatic liberal beliefs, preconceived views he harbored since early childhood.  Reagan soon witnessed the liberal degradation of society demoralizing American democracy, corrupting public school curricula, and imposing repressive, “welfare programs,” which exacerbated crime (American National Biography, 3).  Through Bouleware, Reagan derived a savvy sophisticated understanding of the American economic system, which catalyzed his conversion to conservatism. Boulware maintained two principal components incorporated by Reagan during his presidential tenure. First, he advocated “an ideology” that specifically outlined the prototypical ideal for America. Secondly, Boulware introduced a “methodology” that prescribed how to attain these aspirations (Evan, 38).

Another influential figure, Laurence Beilenson, Reagan’s esteemed attorney, contributed considerably to his conservative conversion. Evans specifically alludes to Beilenson regarding his personal impact upon Reagan’s unmistakable 1964 speech, presently known as “The Speech”. According to Evans, Beilenson exercised a direct unambiguous influence upon Reagan’s international relations. Evans believes that Beilenson, “more than Boulware” or “anyone else” shaped Reagan’s political perceptions regarding foreign policy (Evan, 116). Evans elaborates even further inferring that Beilenson’s insight ultimately facilitated “establishment of the Reagan Doctrine”, helped conclude “America’s containment policy with Soviet Russia,” and contributed to endorse, “a nuclear- defense shield,” in subsequent years when Reagan became president (Evans, 116). These concepts introduce the conservative foreign policy strategy originated by Ronald Reagan. Expect further exploration of the aforementioned topics in latter discussion.

The respectable attorney first received recognition representing SAG.  Obviously, Reagan later summoned his expert legal consultation, as a connoisseur of international law, to administer presidential foreign policy initiative. Beilenson gave Reagan a coherent framework to follow.  Perhaps Evans exaggerates the notable external influence of Boulware and Beilenson upon Reagan’s presidential management. Nevertheless, such evidence elucidates a clearer, more historically accurate portrait of Ronald Reagan, as the unparalleled crusader who harnessed his formidable education, voluminous knowledge, and veteran experience influenced by other incandescent minds, to rehabilitate American society, more specifically, conquering communism, while simultaneously regenerating sound economic policy.

Once again, history produced the emergence of Reagan, inevitably foreshadowed by his fate as an extraordinary leader. Reagan combined the collective genius of others, assimilating their profound intellect to construct an intelligent, creatively designed administrative platform that delivered efficient political policy. As historical scholar John Sloan acknowledged, Reagan’s, “effectiveness of leadership” remained predicated upon his unprecedented ability to solicit and exploit the talents exemplified by, “conservatives, pragmatists, and public relations experts,” (Sloan, John, x).

Reagan gradually began to adopt the central intrinsic tenets of modern American fiscal conservatism. Such conservative values included solid dedication to anticommunism, reduced taxes, and a balanced limited government, which Reagan developed through his active participation in General Electric. Again, Boulware became the catalyst to Reagan’s ideological transition. As Reagan himself professed in relation to his extensive G.E. tours,

“…I was seeing how government really operated and affected people in America, not how it was taught in school…how the ever-expanding government was encroaching on liberties we’d always taken for granted…,” (Reagan, An American Life, 129).

This evolutionary transition to conservatism occurred over a span of “eight years”, serving his leadership in the Employee and Community Relations Program, assigned by Boulware (Evan, 11). Between 1954 and 1962, Reagan conspicuously established himself as a conservative. Indeed, Reagan’s subsequent speeches substantially reflected the conservative sentiments, even grandiloquent language expressed by Boulware.

According to Evans, Reagan’s famous 1964 presentation, “The Speech” closely resembled the remarks of a message delivered by Lem Boulware, “on June 11, 1949,” which addressed, “graduate students and alumni at Harvard Business School,” (Evans, 40). Moreover, as Evans continues, “Boulware’s language “came much closer to “The Speech” than Reagan’s America the Beautiful,” delivered in 1952 at a William Woods College commencement ceremony, invited by Dr. Raymond McCallister, Protestant minister from St. Louis (Evans, 40, 16). The monumental 1964 speech represents a byproduct of Reagan’s conservative foundation cultivated during his propitious professional experience with General Electric. His conversion to conservatism finally witnessed fullest effect.

In 1964, during his final week, “serving as cochairman of California Republicans for Goldwater, he delivered a 30-minute television address that even the New York Times glorified as it, “drew more contributions than any other political speech throughout history,”  (Barnes, 1, Washington Post). Reagan presented the original ideas extracted from Boulware, in a characteristically innovative, insightful manner that demonstrated his individual application of solid, regimented education. Entitled, “A Time for Choosing” Reagan referenced his true political position, as a consummate crusader of American democracy, defending our great founding fathers, and the unsurpassed freedom they intended for Americans. Here, Reagan enumerated the flaws of big bureaucratic government, condemning superfluous taxation without representation, inordinate political expenditures, unnecessary welfare programs, passive liberal acquiescence to communist sentiment, and most importantly, dangers surrounding partisanship. Again, Boulwarism, as it subsequently became known, manifested its presence, reverberating throughout the speech. Reagan emphasized the teachings of Boulware as his central theme, to address ordinary Americans.

Reagan declared the significance of government accountability, a responsibility retained by our constitutional founders to preserve liberty, freedom, and authoritative order. During the speech, Reagan advocated strong capitalist initiative, and reiterated the importance of promoting the unrivaled equal corporate opportunity guaranteed to America by our Constitutional framers.  He also plainly discussed on a practical level, the threat to freedom, and oppressive environment facing everyday Americans in their ordinary lives, resulting from fiscal irresponsibility. Consider the following excerpt. Reagan delivered a powerful message that empathized with every citizen on all levels.  Hence, on October 27, 1964, in his poignant proclamation, Reagan verbatim promulgated,

“… Those who deplore use of the terms “pink” and “leftist” are themselves guilty of branding all who oppose their liberalism as right wing extremists. How long can we afford the luxury of this family fight when we are at war with the most dangerous enemy ever known to man?…If freedom is lost here there is no place to escape to…

…It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. For almost two centuries we have proved man’s capacity for self-government, but today we are told we must choose between a left and right or, as others suggest, a third alternative, a kind of safe middle ground. I suggest to you there is no left or right, only an up or down. Up to the maximum of individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism; and regardless of their humanitarian purpose those who would sacrifice freedom for security have, whether they know it or not, chosen this downward path. Plutarch warned, “The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits…

…Another articulate spokesman for the welfare state defines liberalism as meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government. I for one find it disturbing when a representative refers to the free men and women of this country as the masses, but beyond this the full power of centralized government was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew you don’t control things; you can’t control the economy without controlling people. So we have come to a time for choosing. Either we accept the responsibility for our own destiny, or we abandon the American Revolution and confess that an intellectual belief in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves…

Government has laid its hand on health, housing, farming, industry, commerce, education, and, to an ever-increasing degree, interferes with the people’s right to know. Government tends to grow; government programs take on weight and momentum, as public servants say, always with the best of intentions, “What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.” But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy…The specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face is that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and appeasement does not give you a choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. We are told that the problem is too complex for a simple answer. They are wrong…We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right, and this policy of accommodation asks us to accept the greatest possible immorality. We are being asked to buy our safety from the threat of “the bomb” by selling into permanent slavery our fellow human beings enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, to tell them to give up their hope of freedom because we are ready to make a deal with their slave masters.

Alexander Hamilton warned us that a nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one. Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow. Choosing the high road cannot eliminate that risk. Already some of the architects of accommodation have hinted what their decision will be if their plan fails and we are faced with the final ultimatum…Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery rather than dare the wilderness? Should Christ have refused the Cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? Are we to believe that all the martyrs of history died in vain?

…We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” (Reagan Library, “A Time For Choosing”).

9 Comments
  1. Gabriel Constans says

    Nice in-depth presentation of President Reagan Michael. I appreciate all of the positive contributions he made, and his ability to precisely and succinctly convey his views and policies. Your article could use a little more balance however and not present him and his administration as though everything they did and believed in were perfect.

    In addition to the good things he did, he also supported dictator’s who tortured and killed anybody demanding the very freedoms and democracy that he espoused, such as the Contras in Nicaragua (as many other US presidents have also done and continue to do so). He also made the rich much richer and the poor poorer (including GE, who even recently paid little if any taxes). As you say, he willingly supported blacklisting and McCarthyism, which again flies in the face of democracy, political freedom and human rights. He also fought women’s rights (through the justice department and theoretically) every step of the way.

    President Reagon also increased the national debt by the largest margin since Roosevelt/Truman. Presidents before him decreased the national debt, whereas it increased by over 11% during his term. It was again decreased during the Clinton years and then increased by 27% whil George W. Bush was in office.

  2. Robin G. Hart says

    Reagan was no one to admire. Gabriel is right, and there was much more.

  3. Michael W. Staib says

    You’re only witnessing the first chapter. I needed to subdivide my paper into four chapters, which become published on separate days. However, if you, sua sponte, choose to read my original analysis in its entirety as published on Pace’s Digital Commons, accessible at:

    http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=honorsindependent_researchpapers&sei-redir=1#search=“Michael+Staib+-+Legacy+of+a+Leader”,

    you may then witness the fuller, more objective, less tendentious purview of my scholarly assessment. My original publication, though ideologically pro-Reagan, by no means venerates him as unassailable in every respect, and free from imperfections. It impartially recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses associated with his presidency, despite his conspicuous contributions as an unsurpassed leader.

    As for Ms. Hart, you offer no evidentiary support to substantiate your conclusion that Reagan deserved no admiration. You overlook the profoundly positive aspects of his leadership during such a tumultuous period, which includes, inter alia, revitalizing capitalism, catalyzing communism’s dissolution as a once virulent global threat, not to mention his inveterate patriotism, and faith in the lofty, libertarian principles promulgated by our Founding Fathers. How the nation needs REAGAN now, during a similarly representative, tempestuous era, whereby licentious liberalism undermines our Constitutional principles.

  4. Michael W. Staib says

    The nation most desperately necessitates, perhaps more than ever, REAGAN’S eminent conservative/libertarian leadership, as socialistic policies and intrusive global imperialism continues to progressively denigrate our unsurpassed constitutional republic, sovereignty, and democracy!!!

  5. Michael W. Staib says

    I welcome any other insightful comments from anyone inclined to remark. Please share your personal sentiments & ideological perspectives. However, I personally prefer that all subsequent statements incorporate sufficient substantiation, evidentiary support, and offer an thoughtful, educated assessment, regardless of position. Nonetheless, I encourage participation from anyone willing.

  6. Robin Hart says

    “Licentious liberalism”? “Socialistic policies”? Mr. Staib. you are obviously a right-winger who probably takes seriously such dangerous morons as the brainless Sarah Palin. By the way, ever heard of Reagan’s summarily firing all those air traffic controllers? Heard of the Iran-Contra affair? Many specifics could be given in evidence. But the closedminded do not listen. The blind cannot see.

  7. Michael W. Staib says

    Excuse me, Ms. Hart, but I actually concur with your reasonable assessment of Sarah Palin, who, despite her conservative politics, remains nothing more than incompetent; a nebbish, nascent neophyte who flagrantly lacks the requisite seasoned experience, acumen, intelligence, and/or sophistication for any serious political position. Despite our diametric opposition, again, you may want to consider reading my original publication, again, accessible at: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=honorsindependent_researchpapers&sei-redir=1#search=, which answers some of your aforementioned questions.

    Sorry for seeming supercilious, presumptuous, or pretentious in any way, but you may want to transcend your provincial surroundings and realize the the virulence of those insubordinate air traffic controllers. As for Iran-Contra, I offer strong evidentiary support, applying exculpatory factors which most likely vindicate Reagan of liability. For example, many historians neglect that Reagan received the initial document concerning Iran Contra on his hospital bed, immediately following surgery. Incapacity compromises agreements. Medical treatment triggers diminished capacity. Therefore, assuming arguendo the accuracy of such reports, as overwhelmingly corroborated by various documents, Reagan lacked requisite competence for political sanctioning during Iran Contra. Moreover, sometimes the General Welfare Clause of our U.S. Constitution authorizes a president to exercise Executive Order, in cases whereby utilitarianism applies. Sometimes national security and general welfare overshadow political expedience. With lives threatened, specifically, the American hostages, one may reasonably infer that such desperate measures demand reactionary solutions. Though while perhaps unwarranted, and even politically scandalous, sometimes some extreme measures prove almost indispensable for the sake of protecting our collective liberties. Again, please read the foregoing link, my analysis, from start to finish, before submitting another comment; that way you sufficiently educate yourself for any informed, scholarly discourse.

  8. Michael W. Staib says

    Bernice O. Powell
    mesudiyegazetesi.com/great-barrier-reef-scuba-div…
    Submitted on 2011/04/02 at 6:17

    Now I dont mean to be a meanie greenie here but travel in america is way broken down. You pay high premium insurance rates. THe car rentals are costly. on top of that taxes oh boy dont let get started on taxes. Obama better do something worth doing rather than giving travel tax cuts to Cubans!

  9. Michael W. Staib says

    Thank you, Ms. Powell, for your candid response. I wholeheartedly support your conclusion regarding taxes. Whatever happened to “No Taxation without Representation,” as promulgated by our Constitutional Forefathers in the Declaration of Independence? These leftist demagogues demoralizing American democracy, attempting to socialize almost every facet of society, proletarianizing decent hard-working U.S. citizens, severely undermining our constitutional principles, their tyrannical, totalitarian policies predispose deleterious consequences for the people!!! They not only eviscerate national sovereignty desecrating the U.S. Constitution and any semblance of freedom fundamentally associated with our constitutional foundation, these virulent tyrants persist inexorably to discredit America’s national reputation. They want a globalized hegemony that gavanizes the world’s problems!! We’re not the UN; WE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — A NATION THAT GUARANTEES UNPRECEDENTED FREEDOM OF OPPORTUNITY TO ITS HARDWORKING CITIZENS!!! Again, thank you Ms. Powell. Take care and God bless.

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