“Nearly a decade has passed since Reagan left office, and we are now in a good position to evaluate whether he made the best decisions under the circumstances and whether his economic policies succeeded”.
This quote exemplifies my curiosity and is exactly what I was looking to get out of this book. What did Reagan bring to the presidency that his predecessors did not, and how did he plan to enact the broad economic policy he created to bring our country back from double-digit inflation and stagnated economic growth? This is exactly what I would be learning about this chapter.
Reagan brought to the Presidency a more detailed economic plan than the New Deal. FDR’s comprehensive New Deal may have been the most successful government policy ever implemented at the time, but it was conclusively just a combination of ad hoc responses to changes in economic and social policies. It lacked a solid backbone and end game, but just steered America down the path of most European countries into a welfare state. Instead of pushing to develop new social programs suggested by political elites, Reagan sought to limit a government that had been continuously growing for more than half a century and curb the power of big government bureaucrats. He believed that society was not best served by bureaucrat control, but that entrepreneurs were the ones putting their own resources at risk in hopes of creating some new change in the economy and they are the ones who need the power.
This concept of limiting the political elite and large governments and returning power to the individual is the defining characteristic of the Republican party’s transformation over the next 30 years and it is because of Reagan’s leadership that we have made it so far today.
At the time of Reagan’s rise to power when he was governor of California in 1970 and then President of the United States in 1980, the democrats and big government ideals were the defining powers at the time. Reagan himself growing up and seeing his family struggle through the Great Depression had an understanding of government policy designed to stimulate economic growth and promote the betterment of the people. However this understanding and experience did not push him towards implementing more social and welfare programs by the government but instead led him to realize that the federal government isn’t the solution to the nation’s problems, and “that explicitly the federal government was the source of the problem, because its expansions were endangering the control of free citizens over their own lives.” At this time in his life Reagan was making his first big transition, from a Democrat to a Republican.
Reagan saw the world accept two extreme forms of government during his entrance into the game of politics and immediately realized that he didn’t leave the Democratic party, the party left him. All over the place communism and fascism were taking hold in countries with large populations who could not put their trust in the “invisible hand” of capitalism to guide their economy and people to success. Instead of promoting these free market, individual success stories of achievement through personal hard work and dedication, communism and big government were promoting more social policy, safety nets, and government intervention. This is the opposition that Reagan faced when making the transition to Washington D.C and is why one of the greatest presidents in our history isn’t cast in the brightest light. These big government ideas were the mainstream thoughts at the end of the twentieth century, and Reagan’s opposition to this was seen as unfavorable to a lot of people.
So far throughout his biography I have been able to see the spark of the political light in Reagan’s mind and why he got into politics as an actor. I have been able to see the different ways he has used his influence to get things done, and the ways he has overcome opposition and made transitions to get to Washington D.C. In the chapters ahead I hope to learn more about exactly what he thinks is the best government and economic policy for our nation and exactly how he plans to implement these policies in the face of great democratic opposition.
Before reading Dinesh D’Souza’s biography on Ronald Reagan, I expected to see little or no opposition to an iconic American President. I have no experience and limited knowledge on the time period and many of the issues Reagan faced, but I expected the typical story of a spirited politician who was genial and constantly working hard to improve America. Instead I am finding that Reagan, a very independent often misunderstood man, who had a very positive social image and public approval operated much differently than commonly thought. Opposite to his general perception, Reagan didn’t have a great connection with most of his family and closest political advisers. He operated as an outsider from Hollywood with less knowledge than previous Presidents but was able to accomplish more than most. So far there is a mystery surrounding his day to day operations and exactly how he carries out his Presidential duties but hopefully answers will be found in the coming pages.
This first stage of my reading thus far has expanded my distaste for the gear grinding lobbying and inherent falsehood of american politics and government. My current opinion stands that most political figures employ a false persona that push economic growth and social prosperity, all the while sitting back with a completely different agenda waiting to get elected to get nothing done. There will always be adverse opinions to any position you take on a political issue, and it is the conversation that occurs between people with different ideas where the best solutions are formed. As I have seen through my reading, this is how Reagan, a simple minded self made actor, attempted to transverse the largely unknown political machine of Washington D.C.
I look forward to reading the upcoming chapters “Mr. Reagan Goes to Washington” and “A Walk on the Supply Side” which will hopefully give me an in depth look at how Reagan took over the White House from Jimmy Carter and help me understand a little more about “Reaganomics” and the phenomena behind his method to drive up our economy.
My love for and interest in American History and politics all started in middle school with my first official U.S history class. In this class I developed an interest in the specific people making the decisions that have put us where we are today and the difficulties they experienced guiding us down this path. As I have gotten older I have developed a greater understanding of the difficulty present when trying to operate and govern a country, and developed in me a greater appreciation for those who chose to devote their careers to public service.
Both my interest in government and respect for those few who are able to make it function properly drew me towards Ronald Reagan. He resembles to me one of the most well respected, influential, and hard working presidents in our history and epitomizes the type of leader you would want making the tough decision for our nation.
By reading this biography I hope to learn more about the day to day proceedings in the government and exactly what is going on behind the scenes that most citizens don’t understand. I want to learn about how Reagan traversed through levels of government and got to the Presidency. I want to understand and analyze the relationship between different positions of government and how things really get done in the White House. I am looking forward to learning more about President Reagan and I’m glad you have decided to join me on this journey!