Old Virtues, New Magic:
The Election of 1984
I am giddy, expectation whirls me round. The imaginary relish is so sweet That it enchants my sense.
-- Troilus and Cressida ( III, ii)
The election of 1984 was not a season for heroes; it was won by summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. Mr. Reagan was pleased to have it so; repeatedly, his campaign assured Americans that the long night of crisis was over, giving way to a new morning. Reagan proclaimed that America is "back," the Republic of our fonder memories, affluent and powerful, a "shining city" and an Opportunity Society, built of alabaster and free from tears.
American voters recognized the hyperbole in the president's rhetoric. They knew that some Americans are poor--in fact, there are more poor people in every section of the country than there were when Ronald Reagan took office--and a good many Americans worried, fitfully, about the "fairness" of the president's policies, but the great majority did not allow such concerns to be decisive. Unemployment, the great Democratic issue, worried voters more than inflation, but relatively few Americans were disturbed about either. Ronald Reagan was credited with curing inflation and restoring a modest economic confidence, al-