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Ronald Reagan-An American Myth

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On Sunday, March 21, 2010, President Obama signed historic health-care legislation ending a 100-year effort, started by Teddy Roosevelt, to bring some sort of universal health care to The United States. The effort, through the years, was bipartisan, consisting of desires by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

The momentous achievement was met by some of our citizens with anger, which promoted violent attacks against Congressmen and women who voted for the bill. Office windows have been broken, a gas line to a home was severed and both telephone and e-mail death threats are frightening.

Why are these people so angry? Is it the prospect of 30 million more people receiving health-care insurance, or do they want insurance companies to continue rejecting people with pre-conditions? I don't think any of these reasons are in play, and I believe it is the culmination of a movement and a state of mind that has grown in this country since Ronald Reagan uttered his famous words, "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."

The Republicans opposed to the bill adopted the slogan, "A government takeover of health care." They didn't have to explain anything. Those words were enough. Your mean spirited, unscrupulous, inefficient government is so ingrained that no explanation was necessary.

Why in the world did these people run for office in the government that they loathe?

Recently, I began to hear about the extensive plans in the works to celebrate the 100th birthday of our country's second worst president. Needless to say, Reagan held the undisputed title until the arrival of George W. Bush. We need a truth revelation before we are drowned in praise of the man who started this country on this path to government mistrust, criminal deregulation, greed and an uncharitable view of our needy. Does that sound like 2010? If so, you can thank "the great communicator."

Starting during Teddy Roosevelt's administration there was a movement in this country to bring about social justice and a progressive era. The objective was to apply strong government regulation to business on behalf of labor and farmers and to provide them with security, opportunity and social benefits.

The government's role in the lives of the common citizens of The United States increased dramatically for the first 64 years of the 20th century. Roosevelt's New Deal, Truman's Fair Deal and Kennedy's New Frontier were milestones on the road to progressivism.

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Perhaps the most progressive president of that time was Lyndon Johnson. His contribution has been muted by the debacle of the Vietnam War. However, he should also be remembered for his efforts on behalf of all Americans. His Great Society had the most impact on the progressive movement in the century. Medicare and Medicaid; the Voting Rights Act; immigration laws; pollution control and other social legislation awoke the sleeping Conservative giants.

It seemed as if, with the exception of universal health care, everything was accomplished. We were at the top of the mountain and the only road left was down. It is often said that Reagan started his political career as a New Deal, liberal Democrat. He may have, but it did not take much to change his stripes. As President of The Actors Guild he developed suspicions that Communists were among the Hollywood moguls and the Guild itself. It seems strange that he drew this conclusion when both groups consisted of people who had benefited greatly from a capitalist society. And then he became spokesperson for GE and convinced himself that the conservative approach of his employer was something to be admired and adopted.

In 1964, while Goldwater demonstrated his angry, mean-spirited attitude, Reagan made a supportive speech that demonstrated the ingratiating style that we would come to know in the years ahead. It was little noted during the Goldwater disaster except for a group of Californians who were plotting the emergence of a new conservatism dedicated to privatizing the government as much as possible and concentrating wealth in the hands of the privileged few.

While the angry tone of Goldwater drove people away, the tone of Reagan that seemed moderate, friendly and appealing drew their attention and they were ready to sell the California governor to the country as president using all the wealth they possessed and a questionable argument -- the economy will grow when we put more money in the hands of the wealthy and the captains of industry.

It was formerly know as trickle-down economics. Good living will trickle down to the masses when the blessed wealthy put the money they gained from tax cuts to work, thus employing the underprivileged. Further, government is our problem. It's too inefficient and provides too much welfare. Privatization was a key word for this new conservatism.

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Reagan was their man for the presidency not because of any particular talent or strong belief but because of a winning demeanor, a wonderful speaking style and a lovable whimsical smile. In 1968 it was obvious that Reagan was being groomed for a presidential run. He had been governor for only a year-and-a-half, but the progressive Republican Group, The Ripon Society, declared him incapable of managing and governing.

It didn't phase the king makers one iota. They paraded their robot who, to their surprise, was developing anger in a direction they applauded. Influenced by his former association with GE and his strong anti-communist posture from his guild presidency days, he declared himself a Vietnam hawk and railed against California state college students who demonstrated against the war. In what might have been an attempt to thin their ranks and seek revenge he, for the first time in California, imposed tuition fees at state universities.

The California crowd nurtured him and he became the presidential candidate and then he became president, defeating Jimmy Carter after his famous "There you go again," referring to Carter raising taxes. Four years later, Walter Mondale reminded him that he did exactly that himself. He was truly the Teflon president and every thing slipped off him: his assault on the right to strike when he fired the air traffic controllers, his disregard for federal law during the Iran Contra scandal and his constant assaults on federal budgets creating the inefficient government that he attacked.

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Publisher of a medical journal entitled Practical Pain Management. previously headed a company that I created publishing six alternative medicine product magazines.

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Timely article because too many people don't under... by Marvin Rosenfeld on Monday, Apr 5, 2010 at 7:34:24 PM
The Reagan Administration was also extremely corru... by Perry Logan on Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010 at 5:53:57 AM
Joseph J. Adamson has put it very well in his work... by Guy Dwyer on Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010 at 1:58:05 PM
I think George HW Bush wielded more power than Rea... by Old Uncle Dave on Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010 at 3:53:50 PM
But he played such a commanding role in the end of... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Apr 8, 2010 at 8:44:43 AM
swapping SOB.A B rated actor who never starred in ... by Stanimal on Thursday, Apr 8, 2010 at 5:47:34 PM
Ah yes Ronald Reagan, the failed Hollywood actor w... by TomK on Thursday, Apr 8, 2010 at 9:22:48 PM