Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was the 40th President of the United States. But he did not begin as a politician at all. After graduating from college, a young American became a radio host, commenting on football. Then there were screen tests and a contract with Warner Bros.. By 1940, the charming guy starred in 19 films. During the Second World War, Reagan was in military service, but did not get to the front because of his short-sightedness.
And in 1947, the actor headed the professional guild of film workers. At first Reagan was a member of the Democratic Party, but in the 1950s his views became more conservative. He began supporting Republican candidates, first Dwight Eisenhower, and then Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater. California conservatives were impressed by the activities and charisma of Reagan, pushing him to the post of governor.
In 1967, he became the head of state. And in 1976, Reagan tried to become a candidate for the presidency, but then he lost to the incumbent President Ford at the party elections. And in 1981 Ronald Reagan became President, remaining on this post two terms. Today, according to polls, he is the most popular head of state in his entire history. Reagan was able to peacefully end the Cold War, he accepted America in crisis, but helped citizens to believe in the greatness of their country.
The Republican Party itself got a new look, more people began voting for it. And the institution of the presidency has become different. The economy of the country built by Reagan was called “Reagonomy.” With him, inflation fell by three times, the unemployment rate fell, federal taxes increased. There is no doubt that Ronald Reagan is one of the most famous politicians of the last century. But its importance grew after the departure from the political scene.
Today, Republican leaders will not be able to succeed unless they refer to Reagan as a role model. But his activities are often perceived through myths, which substitute for the essence. Let’s try to get a better understanding of what kind of person and politician it was.
Reagan’s foreign policy had nothing to do with the disintegration of the USSR.
There is an opinion that Mikhail Gorbachev is more responsible for the peaceful end of the Cold War than Reagan. But back in the 1970s, the American politician formulated key ideas for relations with the USSR and the Cold War. It was worth discussing the Soviet policy of expansionism before thinking about arms control. According to Reagan, America was obliged to promote freedom throughout the world. Given that there was no extensive base in the USSR, the country could foment global crises in order to maintain control. Reagan believed that the USSR has an inefficient economy and does not stand competition with the US in terms of technology. Becoming President, Reagan began to build a strategy of relations with the main enemy based on these ideas. This was reflected in the buildup of the army’s forces, in the development of new medium-range missiles. Reagan psychologically attacked the USSR, saying that the evil empire was about to go to the dustbin of history. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SOI) has become the cornerstone of his doctrine. Reagan did not concede even at the famous summit in Reykjavik. America strongly supported anti-communist forces in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia. Nicaragua. It was Reagan who led the crusade against the Soviet Union. Standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987, the President challenged the Kremlin, calling to demolish the Wall. Two years later it happened. Lech Walesa, the leader of Poland, said that his country owes Reagan his freedom. Democracy won in the Cold War. Reagan himself in his autobiography wrote that it was a battle of ideologies. The power of the state yielded to the ideas of the primacy of personality and freedom.
1980s became a decade of rapid accumulation of funds, which benefited only the rich, not the middle class.
Reagan inherited a weakened economy.High tax rates have limited jobs and investment, giving the state less revenue than expected. The president resolutely intervened. After the tax act of economic recovery in 1981, unemployment for subsequent years decreased by 45%. In the 1980s, the consumer price index grew only by 17%, private investment – by 77%. The country grew by an average of 4.6% per year. The real income of every American grew. The collection of taxes grew from 500 billion in 1980 to 1 trillion in 1990. Reagan deregulated oil prices, which allowed receiving cheap energy. It marked the beginning of the US-Canada Free Trade Zone, extending it to the whole of North America. What is very important, thanks to Reagan there were individual pension accounts. In the industry there were new branches, computers, programs, new communications and the Internet. All this promoted the economy of the country.
Under Reagan, civil servants became more numerous, and public debt tripled.
In this case, the domestic expenses increased. But spending on education, medicine, social programs and food has doubled. But federal spending on regional development, trade and housing loans decreased by 22%. The number of civil servants decreased by 5%. True, the number of military personnel has significantly increased. The annual federal budget deficit fell from 6.3% in 1983 to 2.9% in 1989. And the growth of the national debt was three times due to spending on defense. In the last budget of President Carter, America spent 160 billion on this article, and in 1988 it’s already 304 billion. During his tenure at the post, Reagan totaled 1720 billion dollars in the army. He considered such wastes to be fundamentally necessary. The Cabinet of Ministers insisted on cutting military spending. Reagan replied that he was the head of the country and the commander-in-chief of her army. His main responsibility is US security. If it does not exist, then social programs will not be needed. Was the world on the planet worth this money? Most Americans approve of Reagan’s approach, which won the war at the negotiating table, and not on the battlefield. If we consider the economic performance of all post-war presidents, then Reagan ranks first. He reduced the index of unhappiness (based on inflation and unemployment). The 1980s can be considered the best decade in American history.
Reagan did not pay attention to the problems of African Americans.
Black journalist Joseph Perkins estimated that unemployment among blacks declined from 19.5% in 1983 to 11.4% in 1989. The income of the business of black citizens increased by one third during this period. The middle class of African-Americans themselves increased from 3.6 to 4.8 million under Reagan. Real money income adjusted for inflation increased by 12%. And with Obama from 2010 to 2013, they fell by 2.2%. In the 1970s, Reagan called on some of his colleagues to leave the party in order to attract black voters. In 1977, the politician declared that the party draws attention to all citizens, and not to its groups or blocs. Immediately after winning the election in 1980, Reagan confirmed that he was ready to protect and protect the rights of blacks in every program he proposed.
Reagan was one of the most popular presidents in the history of the country.
It is true that two decades after Reagan left office he is still popular. According to polls, among all post-war presidents, he is second only to John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. However, the average support score for all eight years of his rule was only 52.8%. This leaves him behind not only Kennedy and Clinton, but also Eisenhower, Johnson and Bush Sr.. During the reign of Reagan, his rating then took off (after the assassination of 1981), then fell. So, in 1982, when unemployment rose to 10%, the president supported only 35% of Americans. In the midst of the scandal with the Iran-Contra, a third of Americans wanted Reagan’s resignation.And only after the news in 1994 about the Alzheimer’s disease of the former president, his popularity began to grow.
Reagan reduced taxes.
One of the most courageous steps of the politician in the country’s economy was radical tax reforms. He reduced the tax for the richest Americans from 70% to 50%, set tax holidays for corporations and the oil industry, and eased the burden for small businessmen. But the next year the economy mired in a recession, the federal budget deficit went out of control. Then Reagan had to raise taxes. In 1982, the greatest increase in peacetime tax growth in the country’s history took place. Eventually, Reagan raised federal taxes from two of his terms (except the first and last) every year. In 1986, the largest increase in corporate taxes in the history of the country took place, and in 1983, a substantial increase in payroll deductions. This helped preserve social insurance. And if the rich Americans as a whole benefited from Reagan’s tax policy, then the blue collars began to pay more.
Reagan led an aggressive militant foreign policy.
And although Reagan increased the military budget by enlarging the army, in the Cold War he preferred to negotiate with Gorbachev, and not with weapons. Four days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 43% of Americans considered it a merit of the Soviet leader and only 14% of their president. With the exception of the bombing of Libya in 1986, Reagan did not by military means fight terrorism in the Middle East. He believed that the suspects in terrorism should be accused first of all by civil courts in order to deprive them of their legitimacy. And in 1988, Reagan signed the UN convention, which excluded the use of torture under any circumstances.
Reagan became an icon of conservatism.
The place of politics in the culture of the 1980s, as the main conservative, is exaggerated and symbolic. And let Reagan in 1983 publish a book about how he worked diligently against abortion, but in the late 1960s, as governor of California, this measure was allowed to them. The politician has never sought to ban constitutionally. He put a strange practice to speak out against abortion on the phone, and not at rallies. The politician advocated prayers in public schools, but he never offered to solve the issue at the legislative level.
Reagan never negotiated with terrorists.
The Reagan administration has several times bargained for hostages, not only with outspoken terrorists, but also with Iranian mullahs and ayatollahs.