Ronald Reagan, American
Uploaded by SchoolStinks! on Jul 07, 2004
Written By Peter W. Schramm
I grew up with Ronald Reagan. I walked precincts for him when he ran for governor of California in 1966, worked for his election to the presidency twice, and ended up in his administration. I liked everything about him. By the time he became president I came to love him, the way an ordinary citizen can have an honest affection for a public figure.
Ronald Reagan was the antidote to the nihilism of the Sixties. Some in the country—especially the sophisticated intellectual elite and the media—had not only come to doubt our policies, but had come to have profound skepticism about the things for which—I thought—we had always stood. The central idea of republican government was placed in question. The ground under our feet became unsteady. The Carter presidency became the political exemplification of this nihilistic onslaught against the last best hope. There was doubt and cynicism and a lot of shouting. It was asserted that the country was not only ungovernable, but that the American spirit had waned. Carter said that we had an inordinate fear of Communism, and was unable to recognize the nature of Soviet tyranny until the monster bit in Afghanistan. At one point in his presidency, Carter asked the people to think of some nice things to say about America. But his disposition revealed the hopelessness he felt and conveyed to the American people. Even worse, Carter always implied that the people were to blame for this malaise. The people were despondent and gloomy and Carter called for seminars on the question. The ancient creed—the massive fact of the American idea—seemed to be teetering.
Ronald Reagan was the political antidote to this shrunken view of America. He reminded us that we stood for something great, that we were made of sterner stuff than the nay-sayers implied. He not only made the right arguments and proposed sound policies, but his very person, his character, was such as to make it entirely believable. This was an entirely American man. It is almost impossible to disagree with a man who is full of hope, who looks you in the eye and tells you that you are capable of both self-government and greatness, while joking and laughing all the while. The insensate liberals mocked him for his cowboy boots and hat, for his clear and straightforward talk, for his eternal hopefulness. By doing this they...