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How Reagan destroyed America
Posted on July 22, 2012 by RThompson
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” –Ronald Reagan
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘Republicans in control of all three branches of government.’” — Me, correcting him.
I remember when Reagan was elected. Carter was in the White House, but he appeared hapless and helpless, maybe even cursed; the Iranian revolution and the storming of the U.S. Embassy, the hostage crisis, the failed attempt to rescue them, the OPEC oil embargo. . . for all intents and purposes, it appeared America was battered and on her knees, and new leadership was not only warranted but imperative. Enter Ronald Reagan, charged with playing the role of Hollywood president, who talked tough and exuded confidence, but took his orders from the head of Merrill Lynch. When discussing Reagan these days, it is important to distinguish between the historical Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States, and the mythical being Reagan™, hailed by the Republican party for shrinking government, cutting taxes, defeating the Soviet Union, and restoring America to greatness. The historical Reagan did none of these things. The mythical Reagan™, conservative idol, did all of them and more. For this post, I am primarily focusing on Reagan, the man, and his historical record.
The most significant blow Reagan dealt to America was the quote above, and the paradigm shift that it represented. Reagan taught us to hate the government, to believe that government was the source of all of our problems, that government couldn't get anything right, that anything government did was doomed to fail miserably. If all of this seems obvious, you’re either unaware of or have forgotten America’s past–you deny what it was that made America special and great in the first place.
The purpose of the American experiment was to see if there could truly exist a government that Abraham Lincoln would later describe as being “of the people, by the people, for the people”. A government that would exist to serve the will and interests of the governed, and that would reject the European model of feudal, aristocratic plutocracies that the founders fought to overthrow. All of the major powers in the world were autocracies, ruled by the caprice and fiat of kings and queens, claiming legitimacy in the name of God. They were also in the thrall of bankers and corporations (the Boston Tea Party was the first anti-corporate protest in American history). It was against this backdrop that America was conceived, a country whose government derived its just power from the consent of the governed, and not from the divine right of a sovereign leader who served as God’s living emissary on Earth. This was a radical and extremely liberal concept in the 1770′s, and judging by right wing talk radio and the ineptly named Tea Party movement today, has become one again. Or maybe it always has been, and the Tories are just experiencing a remarkable comeback.
For the majority of our national history, this was the framework In which we saw our government; flawed, imperfect, but ours. It was this that enabled the American government to rack up an impressive string of achievements in a relatively short period of time, and it is this legacy that modern conservatives–and all who buy into their misguided “government is the problem” rhetoric–deny and rebuke with their an-historic views.
To those who would say “the government can’t get anything right” or is “the problem, not the solution”, I would just like to point out one glaring, inconvenient truth: Almost every great achievement in American history was accomplished by the American government. This isn't just my opinion, it is objective, incontrovertible fact. The free market has provided us with novelties and trinkets, but precious few truly remarkable, noteworthy accomplishments; almost all of those are solely attributable to government (I’d say all, but I’m sure there are one or two things I’m not thinking of right now). Without the direct and active involvement of the government, America as we know it wouldn't even exist–for that matter, neither would the world as we know it. Saying that “government can’t get anything right” as I hear so often, particularly from conservatives, isn't just wrong; it is ignorant of basic American history. To give just a small example, below is a list of some of the American government’s greatest hits, in no particular order. Note: not one of the items on this list would have ever been created by a purely free market system, absent government assistance.
Continue reading @ linkHow Reagan destroyed America
Posted on July 22, 2012 by RThompson
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