Upbeat Conservatism, Traditional Values Define Reagan Legacy

By Wereschagin, Mike | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Upbeat Conservatism, Traditional Values Define Reagan Legacy


Wereschagin, Mike, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Ronald Reagan didn't bother waiting for Dick Thornburgh.

The politicians met at a Republican Party dinner in Westmoreland County in 1977. Reagan lost a primary challenge to Gerald Ford the year before. Thornburgh was trying to decide whether to run for governor. After being introduced, the president-to-be took the podium and thanked Thornburgh as "the next governor of Pennsylvania."

It wouldn't be the last time Thornburgh watched him set the terms of a political discussion. Sunday marks 100 years since the birth of Reagan, the nation's 40th president and oldest occupant of the White House, popular still. An airport and an aircraft carrier bear his name, and his presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., draws conservative activists and candidates.

In the 30 years since his inauguration, political battles have played out mostly under terms Reagan set forth, Thornburgh said.

"He changed the terms of the debate," Thornburgh said. "The debate became one over the size of government, the cost of government, the tax burden. He put them on the agenda in a way they hadn't been for years, since prior to the New Deal."

In the late 1970s, the steel industry's retrenchment crippled this region's economy, bringing recession to Pennsylvania before most of the country.

"People here in Western Pennsylvania were seeing the world collapse around them. They saw President Reagan as fighting for them," said U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, whose interest in politics budded during Reagan's administration. The third-term congressman has read several Reagan biographies and listened to hours of his recorded radio addresses.

A blend of optimistic language and social conservatism on issues such as gun control and religion helped Reagan win over disaffected blue-collar workers. A voting bloc emerged: Reagan Democrats.

"They worked hard all day, and they wanted to keep their money," said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair. "Lower taxes, smaller government, less-intrusive government, strong defense, traditional values -- he took positions that touched the hearts" of blue-collar Democrats.

Opponents in the labor movement say Reagan's anti-union policies hurt middle-class workers. Reagan's portrayal of government workers as inept agents of an overbearing state eroded support for public employees and their unions, said Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea. That sentiment continues to divide private and public sector workers, he said.

"They're just middle-class" workers, Shea said. "When are we going to stop this madness and quit picking on the middle class?"

Reagan's appeal to blue-collar workers was more emotional than economic, Altmire said. His plain-spoken arguments appealed to people, including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, then a 32-year-old car dealer struggling to pay bills.

"He wasn't a policy wonk, and he wasn't a guy who tried to dazzle you with facts and figures," said Kelly, R-Butler. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Upbeat Conservatism, Traditional Values Define Reagan Legacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.