The United States of Ronald Reagan

By Spivey, Ed, Jr. | Sojourners Magazine, September 2001 | Go to article overview

The United States of Ronald Reagan


Spivey, Ed, Jr., Sojourners Magazine


Don't know much about history. Obviously.

Other than the fact that he was one of the worst presidents of the 20th century, I really have nothing bad to say about Ronald Reagan. He was pleasant enough, had a nice smile, and always looked sharp in a suit. It's the other stuff that bothers me, such as his insensitivity to the poor, women, people of color, the working class, and the unemployed, not to mention the damage he did to the environment, collective bargaining, and the nation's fiscal health. Am I leaving anything out? Probably, but there's enough here to question the obsession of a few members of Congress and conservative activists who are determined to place the former president's name on anything that slows down long enough to hang a plaque on.

Bad enough that Rep. Bob Barr, a Republican from Georgia, is pushing a law that would require the Washington, D.C. subway system to tear down all the signs for National Airport and replace them with ones that say Ronald Reagan National Airport (expensive, at a cost of half a million dollars which the local governments have to pay, and ironic, considering that Reagan's first major action was to bust the air traffic controllers union).

Reagan fans are not satisfied with a new aircraft carrier and the second largest building in D.C. that already bear his name. Now Grover Norquist and his Ronald Reagan Legacy Project want every U.S. county to pay tribute to the original napster. (Secret Service agent: "It's almost lunch time, should we wake the president?")

These obsessed Reagan supporters, in a classic case of historical revisionism, see the Gipper's two terms as Camelot in America. While missing the good old days of Reaganism, they refuse to acknowledge the dark side of his legacy. They adore him for his enormous military build-up and give him full credit for the fall of communism (some say that Mikhail Gorbachev might have had something to do with it ... but never mind). Reagan's military spending and income tax cuts for the rich increased the deficit by $2 trillion, and the subsequent increase in Social Security tax had a ruinous effect on the nation's poor and working class. His dirty little wars in Central America devastated the lives of millions. …

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