I am one of the many millions of people who grew up under the Ronald Reagan Administration. I remember watching the swearing-in ceremony in the teacher’s lounge at my school. I was in the seventh grade and had to get permission from my teacher so I could skip class to watch the event. He gave me a note and I had to have it signed by three teachers who were also present to prove I attended. Being I was the only seventh grader in attendance, ten teachers proudly signed the note and I was given a prominent seat upfront. One of the few benefits of being a runt was you always got to sit in the front row. Although, being a runt with a big mouth did tend to cause some problems, but I digress.
While I had a limited understanding of Reagan’s policies, I understood things where going to get better. I remember the cheers when he announced the release of the hostages. I remember the overall sense in the room that the dark days would come to an end. Everyone, even the few who did not vote for him, left with a sense of optimism for the future of the country.
The Reagan years were a good time to grow up. I am not a man who has heroes nor people who inspire me, I was never one for hero-worship. Ronald Reagan was a man I admired.
Now that I have made my position clear on Reagan, let me say, I am sick and tired of the phrase “Reagan conservative.” It has been 30 plus years since Reagan was elected President. Every time I hear conservative pundits espouse the virtues of Reagan it brings to mind the election of 1980. Do you remember the phrase “I am a FDR Democrat?” it was often used during those times. Do you think the conservative mouth-pieces understand the phrase “Reagan conservative” is as out dated now, as the phrase ”I am a FDR Democrat” was back then?
This is not 1980 and contrary to many conservative pundit’s opinions Ronald Reagan did not win two landslide elections because of his social positions. No, Ronald Reagan got elected because of statements like this:
This is not the time for political fun and games. This is the time for a new beginning. I ask you now to put aside any feelings of frustration or helplessness about our political institutions and join me in this dramatic but responsible plan to reduce the enormous burden of Federal taxation on you and your family.
Here is another quote:
If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.
Ronald Reagan won because of his ability to make us feel proud and strong, to make us feel like being an American was the greatest honor on the planet. That was his greatest attribute, not his social policies nor even his fiscal policies. No, it was his ability to remind us that not only being an American was great, but we were Americans because we were great.