The Reagan Myth

How much longer am I going to hear about the great Ronald Reagan? I was sick of it in 1980.Too young to vote by only five months, I watched helplessly as this B-movie actor "charmed" Americans out of their votes. I read the writing on the wall -- I was going to get stuck paying for this man's playacting with higher student loans and lost economic opportunities. All because I had the misfortune to be born into the lower middle class. At 17, I could smell the manure that was "trickle-down economics." And I hadn't even taken Econ 101 yet.

So it was doubly insulting to me six months later to see this man's photo from his WHO sportscasting days hanging in Drake University's Rathskellar, where I ate breakfast every day. Especially as I knew I'd be paying two percentage points more on every student loan I had to take out for college.

When will Americans learn a good dye job and witty comment do not make a great president? You have to look at the policy, not the P.R. As citizens, we are most affected by the laws passed under an administration, not the speeches and public appearances. It's a shell game, and we need to keep our eyes on the hands, not the face.

Now, the Republican Party which so riotously embraced Reagan and his pseudo-heir George W. Bush, is struggling against its own self-destruction. And their entire field of candidates is battling to wear the Reagan mantle, with Fred Thompson being the most obvious imitator in his leap from acting to presidential politics.

Why? Reagan was the man who gave us the federal deficit Clinton had to eliminate. He dismantled the Department of Energy we could now sorely use. Think about all the research lost over the last 27 years. Perhaps we wouldn't be struggling with rising gas prices now.

This former Hollywood player began the development of the "Star Wars" missile defense system. Do you think it's a coincidence this system is known by a movie's name? It's about as real as Darth Vadar. And we're still wasting money on it.

Under Reagan, the "me" generation developed, and economic uncertainty increased for middle and low income workers. Starting salaries for college graduates declined. I feel as though I'm reliving the past under the current administration, only it's worse. Like a nightmare.

And finally, has everyone forgotten Grenada and the Iran-Contra affair? History has revealed the facts of the Reagan years, yet Americans still deny them.

Which is why the Republican field is vying to be Reagan's conservative heir. They bought the lies, too. Reagan was not a cowboy, any more than George W. Bush is. He just played one.

And 40th President of the United States was his greatest role ever.

Cherie Miner is a parent, community volunteer, freelance writer and artist living and working in Southwest Iowa. In her former life, she was a corporate writer and public relations professional.

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