TheAmerican President: Ronald Reagan as the greatest president
RonaldReagan was born on February 6, 1911 in the state of Illinois. Reaganwas the son of Nellie and Edward Reagan. His family lived indifferent towns before settling in Dixon in the year 1920. Hecompleted his high school education at Dixon High School in the year1928. He was an active while at the high school, which can beconfirmed by the facts that he was an actor in the school’stheatre, an athlete, and become the president of the student’s bodyat one point in his high school life (A&E Network 1). Reagan alsoworked as a lifeguard during his summer vacations.
Aftergraduating from high school, Reagan enrolled at Eureka College thatis located in Illinois. He studied sociology and economics on anathletic scholarship. He took part in several activities, such asfootball and ran track (A&E Network 1). He graduated from collegein the year 1932, and then started working as a sports announcer in alocal radio. He later joined Hollywood and signed a contract withWarner Bros, which is an established American movie studio. Duringhis career as an actor in Hollywood, Reagan featured in about 50movies (A&E Network 1). Reagan married Jane Wyman in 1940 anddivorced her in1948. He served as the president of the U.S. ScreenActors Guild between 1947 and 1952. He married the second wife, NancyDavis, who was also an actress in the year 1952. He served as a hostof a TV drama series known as “The General Electric Theater” in1954.
Reaganstarted his political career in 1964, when he was voted in for theposition of the Governor of California with a Republican ticket. Hewas elected in 1970 for a second term as the governor. Reagan madeunsuccessful bids for presidential nomination in two elections,including the 1968 and 1976. He got the party’s ticket in 1980 anddefeated Jimmy Carter with 489 seats in the Electoral College (A&ENetwork 1). He served as the 40thpresident up the 1989.
Reagan’sagenda for domestic affairs
Reaganwas a true conservative politician and he addressed national mattersfrom that perspective. This is confirmed by the fact that Reaganstimulated a growth in the national economy using a combination ofconservative economic strategies, such as tax cuts and an increasethe government spending. He advocated for a reduction in socialprograms that were financed by the government. He pushed for thederegulation of business and an increase in the military spending. Acombination of these strategies allowed Reagan to establish aseven-year period of economic prosperity, which started from 1983.Reagan inherited an economic index (a combination of unemployment andinflation rate) of 19.00 %, but managed to reduce it to 9.72 %, bythe time he left the White House (Williams 1). An increase in thegovernment spending created more employment opportunities, while thetax cut was enhanced the buying power of the taxpayers.
Theuse of the militant approach in addressing the menace of drugtrafficking is another strategy that made Reagan different from otherpresidents. Reagan replaced ineffective strategies that wereformulated by President Nixon and focused on law enforcement, anincrease treatment of addicts, and the establishment of the drug freeinstitutions of learning (Kebhaj 13). He also dedicated moreresources to fight the drug trade by signing the drug enforcementbill that resulted in the allocation of the first largest amount ofmoney ($ 1.7 billion) in the U.S. history for financing the war ondrug (WGBH Educational Foundation 1). This war was very criticalbecause the drug traders had started focusing on school as the majormarket for their illegal substances. This would have destroyed theentire generation in the absence of the Reagan’s interventions.
Immigrationwas among the key issues that affected the U.S. national securityprior to Reagan’s administration. People could immigrate into theU.S. and find jobs without difficulties. Although the majority of thepeople moved into the U.S to look for jobs, drug traffickers andcriminals also managed to cross the boards. Reagan reversed thistrend by signing into law an effective legislation known as theImmigration Reform and Control Act in the year 1986 (Shilts 656). Theact controlled immigration by prohibiting the U.S. employers fromrecruiting illegal immigrants. However, illegal immigrants who hadstayed in the U.S. for several were given the amnesty and an accessto the benefits enjoyed by the free society. Although the act was notenforced appropriately, it was a viable tool that could denyimmigrants the incentive (employment opportunities) that attractedthem to the U.S.
AlthoughReagan made important policies that addressed significant domesticissues, his response to the HIV/AIDs epidemic was a total failure.The HIV virus started spreading at a high rate in the U.S. in 1981,when Reagan became the president (Bronski 1). However, institutions(such as the Center for Disease Control) were denied the resourcesthat they needed to develop strategies that could be used to containthe rapid spread of the virus. By the end of one year, Reagan’sadministration had allocated only one million dollar for HIVresearch, but the disease had killed about 1,000 people in the U.S.(Bronski 1). Reagan made his first speech on the epidemic six yearsafter he became the president. By then, the disease had killed about20,849 Americans and 36,058 more were diagnosed HIV/AIDs (Bronski 1).This indicated negligence on the part of the government.
Ragan’sagenda for foreign affairs
Reaganis one of the U.S. presidents who valued the relation between hiscountry and foreign nations. He also believed in the concept ofdemocracy and the respect for human rights, both of which were abusedby the Soviet Union. Therefore, Reagan’s agenda was to bring downthe Soviet Union and end the Cold War that had lasted since theperiod Second World War (Williams1). The people of the U.S. livedwith a constant threat from the Society Union that fostered thedomination of communism at the global level. Reagan made a courageousmove that was different from the strategies taken by the previouspresident. He started by reversing the policy of détente, whichaimed at reducing tension that existed between the U.S. and theSociety Union (Williams1). Reagan aimed at ensuring that the U.S. wascompletely secure from the communist regime, instead of simplyfocusing on the reduction of tension as the previous presidents haddone. He achieved his objective of ending the Cold War by calling theSoviet Union an Evil Empire, pushing the U.S. Strategic DefenseInitiative, and supplying the Union’s rebels with weapons. Theefforts made by Reagan played a critical role in the collapsing ofthe Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
AlthoughReagan used warfare to reduce the strength of the Soviet Union, heheld a belief that the military and weapons should be used to bringpeace where alternative strategies have failed. For example, nuclearweapons were symbols of the strength of the U.S. forces, but Reaganwas determined the cut reduce stock (Williams1). He signed a treatywith Milkhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Society Union, whichresulted in the elimination of a whole class of nuclear weapons. Thiswas followed by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which providedthe guidelines for the reduction of arsenals of weapons of massdestruction in the Soviet Union and the U.S. The efforts made byReagan to reduce the volumes of weapons of mass destruction weremeant to enhance the security of the U.S. and the world at large.
Critiquesindicate the Reagan’s optimism in protecting the U.S. andmaintaining the global security destroyed the nation’s relationswith some states. For example, a decision to send over 800 Americantroops to Lebanon in 1982 and the invasion of Granada reduced thestrength of the relationship that the U.S. had with Lebanon andCaribbean. In addition, the U.S. started having a difficult relationwith Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi during the Reagan’spresidency. The contentious relationship between Reagan and Muammarresulted in the bombing of about 63 American military officers inBerlin (Talbott 1). This was followed by a series of attacks thatwere initiated with the objective of reducing Libya’s capacity totransport terrorists. These attacks were authorized by Reagan, butthey reduced the popularity of the U.S. foreign policy. This isconfirmed by a vote of about 28 against and 79 for the Libya attacksin the U.S. General Assembly.
Reaganalso destroyed the relationship between Nicaragua and the U.S. bysupplying weapons to rebels that intended to overthrow the governmentin the late 1980s. It was reported that the Reagan’s leadershipused the revenue gained from the sale of weapons during the Iraq-Iranwar that took place in 1986 to finance rebels in Nicaragua (Talbott1). The operation was then considered by the Congress as a politicalscandal, which resulted in a decline in Reagan’s popularity from 67% to about 46 % within a period of one week (Williams 1). Therefore,Reagan’s efforts to stop the progress of governments thatthreatened the U.S. security were justifiable, but he used the wrongstrategies in some cases.
Reaganintroduced the concept “peace through strength”, which meant thatthe United States needed to strengthen its forces by giving them thecapacity to counter internal as well as external threats. Thestrength of the U.S. military had declined significantly during theleadership of Carter, which left the U.S. vulnerable to major attacks(Williams1). Reagan reversed this situation by reintroducing the B-1bomber, which had been cancelled during the reign of PresidentCarter. This resulted in the production of missiles classified as MX.These missiles enabled the NATO forces to destroy the Pershingmissiles located in West Germany. Other measures taken by Reagan tobuild the U.S. peace through the military strength include anincrease in the number of troops and expansion of defense spending byabout 40 %, which restored the U.S. status as the world’s militarysuperpower.
Reaganleft the White House in 1989 and moved to Los Angeles with his wife.He informed the American people through a handwritten letter in 1994that he had been diagnosed with a mental condition known asAlzheimer’s diseases (A&E Network 1). A state funeral servicewas held in Washington, DC and his remains buried in California. Hedied 10 years later (2004) at the age of about 93 years. He left alegacy and a political image that will remain the books of historyforever.
RonaldReagan is considered by many as one of the U.S. presidents who shapedthe national economy, military, foreign and domestic policies thatthe modern society is enjoying. Through tax reforms and an increasein the government expenditure, Reagan was able to return the U.S.economy to its growth track after several years of exponentialdecline. In addition, Reagan successes in assurance the peace andsecuring of Americans by strengthening the U.S. forces andchallenging governments (such as the Society Union’s leadership),which were a threat to the United States. However, Reagan failed toset a good precedence in two areas. The first one is health, wherehis government allocated insufficient resources to key researchprojects (such as the HIV/AIDs) that would have saved the lives ofmany Americans. The second area is the foreign policy, where Reagan’sleadership supplies weapons to the rebels in other countries, thusweakening the relation between the affected nations (such asNicaragua) and the U.S. In overall, Reagan was a great president, inspite of the fact that he failed in a few areas.
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Bronski,M. rewriting the script on Reagan: Why the president ignored AIDs.TheForward Association, Inc.2003. Web. 18 May 2016.
Kebhaj,S., Shahidinia, N., Testa, A., and Williams, J. estimating theeffects of zero tolerance policies on drug arrest rates. ThePublic Purpose6 (2013): 1-25. Print.
Shilts,R. Andthe brand played on: Politics, people and the AIDs epidemic.New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2007. Print.
Talbott,S. Libya: Fury in the isolation ward. TimeIncorporation.23 August. 1982. Web. 18 May 2016.
WGBHEducational Foundation. Thirty years of America’s drug war. WGBHEducational Foundation.2015. Web. 18 May 2016.
Williams,W. Top10 reasons Reagan achievements.Washington, DC: Eagle Publishing Inc, 2016. Print.