Yesterday would have been the 100th Birthday of Ronald Reagan. For someone who is celebrated for “Fighting the Communists and winning the cold war” the Right has done everything they can to make him into Stalin’s Lenin. You see, since Stalin basically declared Lenin infallible after his death, but Stalin and Lenin didn’t always see eye to eye. So when Stalin was fighting with the Left Opposition (Trostky/Kamanev/Zinoviev) he would have Lenin’s works edited to fit what he was saying/doing. When Stalin was fighting the Right Opposition (Bukharin) he had Lenin’s works edited again to match his new views. As time went on Lenin’s work and word was continually edited by Stalin’s henchmen even when the internal struggles were over.
And so the Right continues to heap praise upon Reagan, while twisting what he actually said and did to fit the message they want him to fit. Since they fight now to “Lower Taxes” Reagan is now the Patron Saint of lowering taxes. Unfortunately the reality is that he raised taxes quite a bit during his administration. Not only that, but he tended to shift taxes from the Rich to the Poor when he did lower taxes.
Let’s not forget the great many foreign policy moves by him too. Death Squads in Central America, 5 billion dollars believed to have been spent on El Salvador, support for Saddam, support for the Jihadists who were fighting the Soviets who ended up becoming the base of Osama Bin Laden, Support for the Doc and Baby Doc regime in Haiti while refusing entry for Haitian refugees who were sent back to Haiti to certain death, his Veto on the South African Anti-Apartheid bill which was thankfully overridden by Congress and the 138 Reagan officials convicted, indicted, or named in investigations of official misconduct or criminal acts.
From top to bottom, the Reagan administration was probably one of the worst. It’s believed that one of the reasons George W. Bush extended the classified documents of the Reagan administration is that it would be discovered that Reagan’s people made a deal with Iran to not negotiate with Carter so Reagan had a better shot at winning the election. Let’s not forget that Reagan’s people ran arms to Iran (who were under an arms Embargo you know the whole Iraq/Iran War with the USA helping Iraq) in order to fund their Nicaraguan allies (which congress had already voted against). So to believe that Reagan’s people might have had a few discussions with the Iranians about the hostages isn’t far fetched.
There’s also the destruction of Labor Unions with the Air Traffic Controllers strike and the subsequent firing of 13,000 union employees by the FAA. This was the kickoff to the eroding of the power of Labor Unions in America, and when you consider that Unions weren’t all that powerful to begin with, that’s not a good sign. Even if you despise Unions, the weakening of Unions since the 1980s due to this is something that hurts everyone in the long run. If there aren’t better jobs out there, it’s the average worker that suffers.
Ronald Reagan was no saint, and how he has been almost beautified since then is one of the oddities of American Politics. Although one might argue that the short attention span, the complete misinterpretation of history, the disregard for other and not considering the long term consequences of your actions are perfect examples of American politics. Only in America could Republicans be given 8 long years to ruin the country, only to have control mostly returned to them after allowing the Democrats all of 2 years to fix things.
I almost forgot about the War On Drugs. The greatest waste of money and human life until the Second Iraq war came around. Its not about stopping the big drug pushers and helping addicts to recover. For the most part it’s the addicts who end up in jail with no hope while the pushers remain on the street. There’s no program for these people once they get out of jail either, so it just becomes a huge cycle. Let’s not forget the racist overtones in most of the anti-drug laws, crack cocaine will get someone a lot more time then just plain cocaine. It isn’t surprising then to discover that there are more black people in prison then in college. It seems like all of Reagan’s wars were nothing but heartache for the American people. His greatest victory was due more to Gorbachev realizing the Soviet system needed reform then anything Washington did.
Even more shockingly is that before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev had twice offered to Reagan for both sides to disarm and destroy all Nuclear weapons. You know those rolling stocks of Nuclear Weapons in Russia that are poorly defended and might be the source of future trouble? They would be gone. 40 years of living under the possibility of Nuclear Holocaust could have all been ended. But instead Reagan twice turned down Gorbachev’s offer (most likely due to Reagan’s ties to the Military Industrial Complex) and now we have to fear insurgents getting their hands on some of the Russians nuclear armament.
There’s also the disgusting change in opinion on the right following Reagan’s death. They were against Stem Cell research because I guess people were going to purposely get abortions so they could give up the fetus to be researched. But since stem cell research is believed to have a possibility of curing Alzheimer’s disease (which Reagan suffered from) suddenly the right change their minds about stem cell research. It kind of makes you wish that more prominent people on the right would get struck by a horrible disease so they might speed up research in those fields too.
Was Reagan a horrible demon from hell? No, but he wasn’t the saint the Right is making him out to be. With how often the right calls out the memory of Stalin, you think they would be able to look in the mirror and see that they are doing the same thing with Reagan. Instead we just have to sit in the back of the class and snicker at how they appropriate his memory and make him into something he’s not.