Friday, October 29, 2010

Reagan's Legacy

Republicans often are able to frame a message, create an image, or promote a meme better than Democrats. This helps explain the patently ridiculous idea that Obama is a communist, or that he hates America. Republican party leaders know such statements are false, but they are not interested in accuracy; they are interested in gaining power. It serves their purpose that significant numbers of Americans, especially impressionable folks who, chronically low on facts, have trouble evaluating the veracity of claims and evidence. (It also helps to explain why so few scientists are Republicans.)

The Republican masterpiece of mythbuilding would have to be Ronald Reagan, a man whose record, if properly evaluated, would correctly recategorize him as perhaps our most overrated President. There are, of course, many academicians who understand Reagan's record, his actions, and his legacy, which is just now coming home to roost with a vengeance. Not much of that has seeped through to the mainstream. And Democratic leaders, who often show an astounding ability to miss opportunities, have made little effort to put some perspective on what that man has done to America, especially the middle class.

That is beginning to change, in part because America's political economic crisis has become so apparent, and, I think, because the Internet has allowed those of us not part of the mainstream media to have a voice. As one of those voices, I intend to promote and develop a critical and empirically anchored analysis of Reagan's legacy, stripped of its myth. For now I want to direct you to an excellent post by Dave Johnson, who shares some of the major storylines of Reagan's eight years, presented in vivid, but depressing, charts.

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