He gutted the economy while pretending to liberate it. I was eight when he took office, and I lived in Pittsburgh. The city was pulsing with life thanks to the steel industry; there was energy and vigorous home-grown commerce. By the end of Reagan’s tenure, the ‘Steel Town’ had turned into the ‘bureaucrat town’, and much the same had happened (or was in the process of happening) to Detroit, Chicago, and pretty much every other center of American Industry.
I also noticed that, during Reagan’s time, the mentality of the country became extremely legalistic. All of a sudden, you couldn’t do anything unless you had filled out a notarized form of some kind.
As for Reagan’s supposed ‘freeing up’ of the market—if that’s actually what happened, I didn’t feel it. The very distinct feeling I got was that small and medium sized businesses were unable to keep up with endless waves of Reagan-based regulatory fines and dropped off, clearing up space for the mega-businesses that now dominate the landscape. The domination of McDonalds and Walmart and the like has been attributed to Reagan’s ‘economic libertarianism.’ But the real cause, it seems, was his anti-libertarianism, in that, under him, government became so crushing, and fines and lawsuits so frequent, that the ‘little guy’ (and the ‘medium sized guy’) just dropped off.
As for Reagan’s ‘political conservatism’—in practice, that came to absolutely nothing. It was under Reagan that I noticed a pronounced shift towards the extreme Marxism that we’re experiencing today.
There was, of course, that matter with the Air Traffic controllers. (They were striking and he ended it.) And that certainly is consistent with the narrative that he opened up the economy. But in retrospect, that seems to have been an isolated case that was deliberately played up (if not dummied up) to deflect attention away from the various forms of economic rigor mortis that were setting in, courtesy of ‘Dutch’ Reagan.
I was much too young at the time to care one straw about economics. But I viscerally couldn’t stand him. His trademark veiled voice was obviously phony, as were his effusions about ‘God and family.’
I also very distinctly remember how we were suddenly forced to sit through hours’ long seminars at school about the evils of drug use and alcoholism and were ‘encouraged’ to denounce our own parents for partaking. And conservatives seemed to go for this, since they saw it as a sly way of putting threatening ‘inner city’ people in the clink. But the effect for America as a whole was not the removal of some ‘criminal element’ but rather the installment of a juggernaut police apparatus.
Everything about it felt off; and, looking back, the whole thing seems to have been so much Republican theater, cloaking, as it usually does, the elimination of a lot of personal and commercial liberties.
Charles Krauthammer compared Trump to Reagan, which shows what a complete moron he was. There is no comparison. Reagan came off as a sock-puppet. Trump may be this or that, but he is, if nothing else, very real.
What I would like to know—or at least have confirmed—is the legitimacy (or lack thereof, rather) of the ‘Reagan Diaries’, of which I read a few sickening pages.