I don't remember Reagan's presidency much. When he was president, I was still more into playing with dolls than following politics. So I'm still trying to figure out what Reagan did and how that mattered. The following article by Mark Sumner made a lot of sense to me:
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 40th president amid glowing plaudits, folksy reminiscence, and an abundance of praise, it's important to remember one thing: the election of Ronald Reagan is the central and enduring tragedy of our age. By that I don't mean "it's the worst thing that has happened." It would be foolish to raise (or lower) the political fortunes of any one man to equal the human toll of the earthquake in Haiti, the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe and in Africa, or the ravages of the Iraq War. I mean that the rise of Ronald Reagan was the tipping point, the axis around which history turned away from one view of the world towards another. And it was a devastatingly wrong turn. The general acceptance of the ideas behind Reagan, and the movement of those ideas from the radical fringe into the mainstream of American politics, has shaped a world in which fantasies are accepted as givens; a world in which positions that are not only unproved, but disproved, are seen as foundations to build on. These ideas have destabilized our economy, accelerated the destruction of our environment, and set back the advancement of human rights. They, and the man who delivered them into our living rooms, are now so coated in mythology and media adoration that we accept them not just as American, but as America, despite the fact that these ideas – the conservative daydream -- represent the single greatest threat to the continued progress of our nation and our world.This is just a small quote. Make sure you read the whole thing here. Even if you disagree in terms of ideology, the writing is so beautiful, powerful and passionate that it definitely makes the article worth reading. I want to learn to write this way.
P.S. I once witnessed a conversation between two older colleagues. One was British and one was American.
"I used to be a conservative," said the American colleague. "But then Reagan came to power, and I had to choose between abandoning the convictions of a lifetime or not calling myself a conservative any more."
"You are not going to get any compassion about the evils of Reagan from me," retorted the British academic. "We had Thatcher, and that's much worse."