Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Beatification of Ronald Reagan

The excess of emotion expressed in the nation over the hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth might lead one to conclude that he wasn’t the 40th President of the United States, but God. Ronald Reagan was the last president whom many Americans say they feel good about but–in a culture devoted entirely to making one feel happy and building up one’s self-esteem–that is understandable. Regrettably, we haven’t seen anything yet about the beatification of the country’s first trickster president (George W. Bush was the second).

When President Reagan was running for re-election, as a long-time Washington resident and commentator, I felt duty-bound to place a bumper sticker on my automobile that said “Honk If You Think He’s Senile.” Plenty of people honked their horns or waved from passing vehicles, and there were also the people who kept trying to remove the sticker from my bumper. My point was simple: the evidence was already there well before the second inauguration that Reagan was suffering from senility and should never have been reelected. Were people simply not paying any attention to his pronouncements and those silly movie lines that crept into his speeches? Were they that infatuated by his engaging smile? The people around him knew what was happening, but what could possibly have driven them to think of the country first? Still, I have to confess that senility started to look positively desirable when W Bush entered the White House.

It’s questionable how history will judge Ronald Reagan, but two facts are indisputable. First, he rang up the fastest and the largest deficit in the country’s history up to that time, which conservatives still won’t admit. And second, it took the foresight of Bill Clinton to begin to correct the problem. All for naught, of course, since they were wiped out by W Bush and his cheerleader, Vice President Cheney, and his audacious remark: “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Republicans today want Americans to believe that the entire debt of the country has been amassed by Barak Obama, forgetting that our current economic morass had its foundations during the Reagan and Bush years. I’d call Republican attitudes toward the country’s deficit a case of selective amnesia.

After the deficit, Republican sycophants like to credit Ronald Reagan with the end of the Cold War (as his followers have argued for years), ignoring that simultaneously Reagan began the country’s move from Capitalism to Corporatism. Reagan convinced many Americans (including leaders of both political parties) that government is bad and, consequently, that taxes are unnecessary and even un-American. Until recently, being Americans meant that we can have it all for free. Tax money spent for infrastructure, for education, for health—even unnecessary wars—is an evil. This is the dirty little secret about Conservatives: they hate Democracy because what it means is having to share what you have with others, helping the less fortunate, people who have been passed over by the budget cuts for the rich and have felt the impact of the reductions of every program intended to help those at the bottom. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has grown so quickly that the American Dream is nothing more than a mirage for most of the people in the Middle Class, let alone those at the bottom. The end of Democracy, initiated by Ronald Reagan, pretty much was finished by Bush II.

After Reagan’s death, Republicans had a field-day, and Democrats (always accused of lacking patriotism) had to remain silent as monuments were constructed, as buildings were re-named, and postage stamps began to bear the former president’s likeness. Americans haven’t seen anything yet. As my wife says, the most endangered national park is now Mt. Rushmore, which Republicans have talked about for years as a fitting memorial to their beloved hero. There’s also been a continual cry to put Reagan’s image on our currency, which so far has been thwarted. If he deserves to be anywhere it should be on the hundred dollar bill, reminding Americans that the hundred dollar bill is the new ten dollar one.

Thus the beatification of Ronald Reagan continues to ignore basic rules of economics just as the old issues of equality and helping others has been turned upside-down. And how can we forget Reagan’s initiation of the concept of the preemptive strike (Granada, a major threat to the world’s stability)? Ronald Reagan’s legacy could not have come at a better time for subsequent global displacements brought forth by George W. Bush.

So what would be a suitable monument for Reagan on the Mall in Washington, D.C.? Three gigantic balls, hanging down from the firmament–the traditional pawnshop symbol–to remind all Americans that Reagan hocked our future.

Say one for the gypper.

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail