If you’ve heard any of the Republican presidential candidates talk for more than five minutes at a time you’ve inevitably heard them talk about Ronald Reagan. In fact his name was mentioned 14 times during the first GOP debate. No other former president got that much love.
So what’s with the Ronald Reagan obsession? And is it warranted?
The conservative icon is best remembered as the “great communicator.” No one, Democrat or Republican, can deny this fact. He has so many great sound bites and memorable quotes.
Remember “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”
And how about this gem: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
While we remember a lot of great things the former president said, for me, he’s a great communicator because of the way he made Americans optimistic again. His predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, was not well liked during his time in office. Americans became disillusioned and cynical under his reign and morale was low.
Reagan was like a ray of sunshine when he came into office. He reinvigorated America with his historic “Morning in America” ad. For the first time in a long time, Americans began to feel hopeful and express confidence in the future.
President Reagan also gave Americans reason to hope for a better tomorrow by saving the failing economy. When Reagan took office America had experienced a decade of rising unemployment and inflation.
Reagan transformed the economy with tax cuts and what has since been branded “Reaganomics.” In 1981, he passed the single largest tax cut in American history. His Reaganomics policies had four main areas of focus; reduce the federal income and capital gains taxes, reduce the growth of government spending, reduce government regulations and reduce inflation.
His economic policies made him an extremely popular president. He came into office with a 51% approval rating. Eight years later, he left office with a 63% approval rating. Outside of 1983, his approval rating never dropped below his disapproval rating.
Like all presidents since him Reagan dealt with a war. But unlike any other president in history he was able to win the war without ever firing a shot. Reagan won the Cold War against the Soviet Union by forcing them to spend themselves into bankruptcy trying to keep up with the U.S.
He’s also credited with creating the Department of Veteran Affairs. Although a government bureau for war veterans had existed in America since the 1800’s, his reorganization of the department showed his commitment to ensuring our veterans and their families received proper care.
The current GOP presidential candidate’s obsession with our 40th president is both understandable and encouraging. It’s also not just Republicans who loved Ronald Reagan. He created a whole new subculture of Democrats who refer to themselves as Reagan Democrats.
When’s the last time you heard people refer to themselves as Obama Republicans?
I believe this is what truly made Reagan so special. It wasn’t just his policies that helped turn around an economy. It was his ability to unite the country.
We would be truly blessed to have a leader like Reagan running the country in 2017.