We thought, in light of all the Reagan-worshiping allegedly former Republicans we see on our TVs, that we'd take a closer look at some of the conservative values Ronald Reagan was meant to embody. (We're sure you have a few of your own.)
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT FOR THE LAW :
SUSIE: The Iran-contra affair: Reagan promised to a help anti-Communist insurgencies around the globe, but in the 1982 mid-term elections, Republicans lost control of the House and the Senate. The Democrats promptly passed the Boland Amendment, which restricted the CIA and Department of Defense from in foreign conflicts.
The Reagan administration decided they would essentially ignore it, and the rest is history. Several members of the administration did go to jail, but St Reagan got away with it.
HOMELESS PEOPLE AND THE END OF MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES
JOHN: Ronald Reagan couldn't have cared less about the homeless, in spite of the high rate of mental illness among them. He chose instead to push for, and eventually end, all federal funding for mental health services, just the way he did in California.
THE DEMISE OF THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE
KAROLI: The reason Fox News exists today in all its malevolence is because Reagan made sure the Fairness Doctrine would end as a way to make sure political voices were ALL heard. A generation of voters has now been exposed to one point of view, dishonest and greedy.
TAXING THE POOR TO PAY FOR THE RICH
SUSIE: Remember when good old Ronnie doubled payroll taxes on the self-employed? Or started taxing unemployment benefits and Social Security checks?
KAROLI: Rather than raise the ceiling higher on which payroll taxes were based, he raised the retirement age and made it harder to qualify for disability benefits. Now those people who have had to wait the longest to receive their benefits may not get anything at all, if Trump has his way.
ALIZA: As a teenager I remember how indifferent he was to the AIDS crisis. My parents losing friends to the disease, and we visited the quilt when it came to the Mall on Washington. We saw "Angels In America" when it was at the Kennedy Center and it wrecked us, and Reagan's ugly shadow hung over the whole thing like an evil black cloud.
ALIZA: Oh, and the unions. Let's not forget the unions and Reaganomics, and "Trickle Down Theory" where money never seemed to trickle down. So imagine my revulsion when I heard my former Lt. Gov., Michael Steele on MSNBC waxing nostalgic about Ronnie boy and how he was so inspired by him that he joined the Republican party.
Ronald Reagan was no less a salesman than Trump. He was much smoother, but he was selling a version of reality that was closer to Ayn Rand's (another conservative hero) than Putin's. But the truth is, they were still the same old ideals of letting the rich keep their money -- and making the poor make up the difference.
What do you remember most about Saint Ronnie?
Rick Perlstein’s new excellent book Reaganland has lots more.