home > archive > 2004 > this article
The mandate of Heaven passes with Reagan
By Jack J. Woehr
Ronald Wilson Reagan passed away over the weekend. With him seems to be passing the mini-dynasty he founded in American politics.
Though it is a popular point of view neither with my liberal nor my conservative friends, the case can be made that the succession Reagan - Bush - Clinton - Bush represents an unbroken continuity in the reshaping of the American political landscape engineered by the dynastic founder. The Bible, no mean source of political wisdom, says that "The king's heart is like a river in the hands of the LORD and He turneth it whichsoever way He will," which I take to mean, it doesn't matter what your intentions were when you took the oath of office, the context will determine your actions. Thus seen, Clinton's only lasting accomplishments were Reaganite accomplishments: welfare reform, GATT, WTO, NAFTA, and a doubling of the size of the American prison system.
The dynasty founded by Reagan seems currently to be foundering, foundering domestically and internationally.
Internationally, Reagan himself was wary of being militarily entangled on the ground in the Middle East. His one adventure in this regard, the landing of Marines in Lebanon, ended in disaster. After ordering the battleship New Jersey to lob a few shells at the wrong people in retaliation, Reagan turned his attention homeward to the Americas for the remainder of his terms in office. His successor, G. H. W. Bush, found himself drawn again into the Middle East, warily, carefully winning both the consensus of the United Nations and the consent of the U.S.S.R. before driving Sadam back into the woodwork. Clinton continued the dynastic policy of containment and diplomatic engagement. George W. Bush chose to break with the dynastic policy and is enmeshed above his own ability and that of his advisors. Bush looks fair to lose the election this autumn as a result.
Domestically, Reagan had a plan and philosophy to put America back to work, a plan which largely succeeded, albeit on the back of very un-Republican deficit spending. His successor, George H. W. Bush, validated the plan by wrestling Congress into a deficit-reduction formula which squared the Reagan circle and paved the way for the "Clinton prosperity". Clinton wisely took credit while effectively leaving the Reagan-Bush mechanisms untouched. George W. Bush upset the dynastic domestic policy by a war that, whatever its policy justfications and moral modalities, is unspeakably, incomprehensively expensive, not only in cash, but in maxxing out the world capacity to produce oil.
This autumn, if anything resembling a free and fair election is held, John Kerry should be elected the 44th President of the United States, ending the Reagan dynasty. America is on the verge of an era of reform and reassessment, and, just very possibly, some retrenchment and return to the principles of free government enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. The principles were battered by Ronald Reagan, who even as governor of California treated the Bill of Rights with disdain and whose presidential administration bullied and threatened the news media to obtain favorable reporting of the Grenada invasion and other acts of state. Freedom declined through the first Bush administration which ramped up the War on Drugs at the expense of the Ist, IVth and Vth Amendments. Clinton, the erstwhile liberal, continued that pattern of executive contempt for the Constitution as the U.S. rate of imprisonment surpassed that of China during his second term. The second Bush administration decided to "bring it on" and boldy replaced the entire Bill of Rights with the solitary principle that the U. S. government may imprison any citizen for any length of time incommunicado and without trial.
The Mandate of Heaven is passing with the dynastic founder, may he rest in peace. The Reagan Dynasty may not be replaced with greater freedom; it might indeed be replaced by rigged elections or martial law instead of by John Kerry. But for better or for worse, the Reagan dynasty, a product of times which already seem almost innocent by comparison, will soon be history.
This author is, as regards ESR, also history, as of this installement. Having accepted a vacancy committee nomination from the Libertarian Party for United States House District 6 here in Colorado, I may no longer accept this fine forum for free expression of my views without risking Federal-Election-Commission-fu. It's been great to visit with you all, and I especially thank Steve for his liberal (!) policies regarding authorship on these pages. There's little doubt I'll lose in the fall, which should free me to return and report on my doings over the summer vacation and the fall madness. Until then, roll up your shirtsleeves, take personal resposibility, and guard the freedoms vouchsafed us all, both Canadians and Statesiders, by our respective national founders and guarded for us by our forefathers and their sacrifices in the Normandy invasion 60 years ago this week.
Jack J. Woehr of Fairmount, Colorado at this writing is to be announced to be the Libertarian candidate for US Congress in the Colorado 6th Congressional District on Monday, June 7, 2004.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2013, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.