The Washington Monthly's D.R. Tucker with a very bleak reminder about the anniversary we'll be "celebrating" this week: The Dawn of Darkness:
November 4 should be a day of mourning.
This Wednesday marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of one of the great tragedies in American history, a moment of indelible shame, a choice that harmed so many in this country and around the world: the defeat of President Jimmy Carter at the hands of right-wing former California Governor Ronald Reagan.
It was a result that never should have happened, a result that (in the view of legendary progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, among others) was borne of chicanery. In any event, Ronald Reagan’s election nearly destroyed this country.
As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted in 2010, the Reagan years put us on the path to extreme income inequality:
Reagan’s economic agenda literally took from the poor and gave to the rich. His race-baiting on the 1980 campaign trail and his demonization of civil rights as president laid the foundation for reckless Republican rhetoric on race during the Obama era. His illegal wars in Central America and his irresponsible invasion of Grenada served as the model for George W. Bush’s Iraq misadventure. His scorn of environmental concerns put us on the painful path to a climate crisis.
Sometimes you have to wonder if the folks who cast their ballot for Reagan on that horrible November night really knew what they were doing. Did they realize what sort of ideology they would inflict upon this country and world over the course of the next thirty-five years? Did they understand that they were, in effect, voting to hold back the hopes and diminish the dreams of their children and grandchildren? Did they recognize that they were turning on a machine that would wreck our economy, our environment and our ethical standing as a nation?
Most conservatives can't seem to remember anything that happened prior to the day President Obama took office, so my guess is the answer is no for most of them. As they noted, it is worth reflecting on just how much different things might have been had Carter been reelected rather than living through the damage inflicted on us that is still impacting all of us today from Reagan's policies.