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God bless Ronald Reagan
By Carol Devine-Molin
The death of our nation's 40th President, Ronald Reagan, has been bittersweet. It's been lovely to see the old news clips, hear the recollections of those who knew him and worked with him, and to reflect on his amazing accomplishments. However, Reagan's bout with Alzheimer's disease dealt him a considerable blow, relegating him to a sort of limbo over the past few years with one foot tied to this world and the other foot ensconced in eternity. For that reason, Americans who adored Reagan are sanguine that he's finally passed away and is at peace in the presence of the Lord – But we conservatives miss him terribly, and have missed him throughout the course of his illness. Looking back more than twenty years ago, a beleaguered nation turned to Ronald Reagan who redefined the landscape of America and the world in wonderful ways. For that, Reagan will go down in history among the ranks of truly great Presidents of the United States.
What will the school children be taught about Reagan? Invariably, they'll learn that Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, and that he was the father of the modern conservative movement. As to the former, Reagan had no qualms about dubbing the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and challenging Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall", of course referring to the infamous Berlin Wall – Reagan understood that communism was a failed ideology and that the Soviet Union would ultimately be relegated to the "ash-heap of history." Moreover, Reagan was committed to hastening the demise of the extensive Soviet empire.
By touting America's missile defense research and development program (coined the Strategic Defense Initiative, colloquially known as the "Star Wars" program), Reagan smartly lured the Soviet Union into an ever-expanding arms race that helped break its back. The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was being systematically eliminated in favor of an entirely new paradigm. But this posturing represented much more than a power-struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. In essence, Reagan cared about people – He sought to bring down the "evil empire" and free people from the yoke of Soviet oppression. Likewise, President George W.Bush is also dedicated to the cause of freedom for those living under despotic regimes. Ronald Reagan set the right tone for the era of modern conservatism – Clearly, the Republican Party is more concerned with freedom, democratization and human rights throughout the globe than the Democratic Party that only engages in elaborate lip service to such issues.
Ronald Reagan's infectious optimism and conservative philosophy captured the imagination of many Americans and transformed the Republican Party into a true national party. To this day, we Republicans often refer to ourselves as "Reaganites." When Reagan campaigned for the presidency, the cold war with the Soviet Union was in full-swing and our national economy was in tatters – Americans endured high unemployment, double-digit inflation and tremendous interest rates and tax rates, which were all part and parcel of Carter-era "stagflation."
In short, things were incredibly wretched for the average American. When Ronald Reagan was elected to office, he was a man-on-a-mission to tackle America's major problems and armed with his core principles. As destiny would have it, President Reagan was the right man, at the right time in history – America is often blessed in that way. The year was 1980, and the glory days of the Republican Party would ensue. Reagan's tax cuts spurred an economic boon, as he had anticipated. The federal tax rate peaked at 70 percent when Reagan entered office in early 1981, and the highest rate in the code was 33 percent upon his departure in 1989.
Ronald Reagan was a "big picture" type of guy, not a person obsessed with minutia and micromanaging. He had a limited agenda, but a crucial agenda, that involved: a) cutting marginal tax rates for the purpose of unleashing a simulative effect upon the economy, b) reining in the size and scope of government, c) creating a first class, technologically advanced military, and d) dismantling the "Evil Empire" that plagued millions and posed a worldwide threat. Looking back, Reagan largely succeeded in enacting his agenda, although admittedly he was not able to curb government spending. Certainly, the Soviet Union was successfully overcome as a consequence of Reagan's "Peace through Strength" policies, thus ending the "cold war" era. Moreover, Reagan ensured that our military was rebuilt and that our economy was thriving.
Many Republicans will remember Ronald Reagan fondly for his personal attributes as well as his notable accomplishments. He clearly exuded moral courage, humor, optimism, integrity, kindness and personal charisma. But unknown to many, Reagan was also a man of deep religious faith. That said, I have no doubt that he was carrying out the Lord's work while he was among us.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
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