"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Reagan REvolution, Part I

The election of Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate in the election of 1980 was the first significant victory in the conservative’s sustained and successful drive to capture long-term control of the United States government. Its impact was so great that it has been called the “Reagan Revolution. “It marked a dramatic shift in policies, as Republicans began to make progress in rolling back the New Deal and successive Democratic domestic programs. Great progress was also made in reorienting tax policy by scaling back progressive taxation and providing generous tax cuts to the rich and corporate interests. In foreign affairs, Reagan’s rhetoric and Star Wars initiative foreshadowed what was to come under Reagan’s self-anointed heir, George W. Bush, a departure from traditional bipartisan foreign policy toward a very assertive, nationalistic, and unilateralist approach to world affairs. It was also a huge personal triumph for a Reagan whose likeable manner and ability instilled trust. His ability to communicate easily won many converts to conservative ideas. Many Americans came to identify modern Republicanism with this cheerful, likeable man whose eight years in the White House presented a generally positive advertisement for the party and conservatism.

It is possible that the Reagan Revolution went farther than the Gipper realized or intended. In retrospect, it is clear that the Republican Party in the Reagan years had accepted supply side economics and that many in its ranks ceased to worry about growing deficits. President Reagan used supply side rhetoric, but his diaries indicate that he disagreed with the most zealous supply-siders, such as Jack Kemp. It was also a period in which the New Right gathered enough influence to take over the party in the 1990s. Reagan employed their rhetoric because it was very effective in attracting support, but he privately worried that these people were extremists and even wrote that Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times is “becoming as R. Wing as the Post is L. Wing.”

Reagan urged Americans to “stand tall” and “dream heroic dreams,” and employed the slogan “Let’s make America great again.” His optimism was appealing and people wanted to believe that it was, as he insisted in 1984, “morning in America.” Reagan’s optimism tapped into a deep strain in the American character. Over time, Americans developed an ethic of cheerfulness, which emphasized individual self-worth and the notion that people are masters of their own destinies. Cheerfulness became a symbol of virtue. It included an aversion to tears, helplessness and grief. It became almost a prerequisite for getting hired and was expected of employees. Eventually advertisers who believed it encouraged spending that commodified it. Sociologist saw it as the handmaiden of Republican complacency. It was an attitude consistent with Republican insistence that little was wrong with America and its capitalistic system. This outlook certainly appealed to people tired of Democratic worrying about social and economic inequalities.

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About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!