Ronald Reagan is dead at 93. Sadly, as with all who suffer from Alzheimers, this was a formality. The man was long gone many years ago, only his body remained.
We’re going to hear a lot of tributes over the next few days and weeks (maybe months), but here is what the Reagan legacy means to me. He was the man who ushered in the era of conservatives claiming to be for small government while running up staggering bills, record deficits, and focussing on tax cuts for the ultrawealthy. He started the ball rolling down this steep hill and now it picks up speed and rolls over us all. I have sympathy for his friends and loved ones, as it always is hard to lose a loved one. However, as we reflect back on his legacy I don’t see much that I think was or will be good for America in the long run. As a young man during his presidency I thought of him as a charming but empty suit. I didn’t like his policies or his style of governance. The best thing about him was that he was well spoken and charming. Unlike the current president, he could speak off the cuff and make sense, and he did an excellent job of selling his policies to the public. That’s the biggest difference between then and now – Reagan actually cared about and tried to get the public on board. So, while I have sympathy for the loss of life I do not join in the nostalgia. I mourn the man but not the politician.
And god help us if we hear the Bush reelection campaign saying they must prevail in the fall to “win one for the Gipper.”
Update: Here’s Ellie Lang saying very similar things. She talks about people “rejoicing” in President Reagan’s passing. I don’t know if this is a LiveJournal thing or where those folks are. I have yet to see any of it. Most of what I’ve seen either breaks down into the adoration of those on the right or similar sentiments to ours from the left – somber respectful regret at the loss of an American statesman, even one whose views and actions were contrary to our own.