Reagan laughed. "Oh, that's right. A Harry Potter movie. I sometimes still confuse movies with reality, just like the old days." His grin changed back into a face that was pure lament. "But I was dead wrong about freedom," the ghost replied. "That was no movie. I was wrong about what was best for America."
"How can you say such a thing!" Scrooge was ready to scold the former president, his hero.
"Oh, it's pretty easy. Now that I see what my words about "freedom' and my divisive, it's either freedom or it's communism, it's either freedom or it's socialism, it's either freedom or it's tyranny administration meant for the lives and for the futures of ordinary working people, people like the ones I grew up with in Illinois. Those simplistic soundbites destroyed them. It destroyed us . It allowed us to trade in the older and better storyline about small towns--towns where everybody got along, where people helped each other succeed, and where being rich was something to be ashamed of unless you shared your wealth--for these ridiculous, un-American gated suburbs made up of McMansions, hatred of others, greed, consumerism, and fear, as well as a world made free overseas only for Walmarts. I was responsible for that. It was my message. It was my narrative."
"But Walmart rules the big box world!" Scrooge couldn't believe his ears. "What's wrong with that? Low prices are the opiate of the masses! And there are huge corporate profits to consider, investors who make buttloads of money because Walmart is the only choice many consumers can afford!"
The ghost of Ronald Reagan cringed. "I hate hearing that. You have no idea how much I regret having been the President of the United States."
Suddenly the two men, one man and one ghost, were viewing a presidential debate stage. It was October 28, 1980. An older Ronald Reagan turned to face the camera and asked "Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things at the store than it was four years ago ""
"Don't you see ?" The ghost of Ronald Reagan, now earnest as an evangelist, implored Scrooge to see it. "Those were the wrong questions! All wrong! They put the individual above the common good, the public good, the idea of an America that wasn't all about greed, the accumulation of riches, and the buying of meaningless crap in stores!"
Scrooge was appalled. "What do you mean, Mr. President? Those were great questions! The election outcome was sealed because of them. They reminded Americans that it's all about the money!"
"But it is not all about the money . Not at all." Reagan sighed and consulted his old and deeply tarnished Rolex. "But I see you are not yet convinced. I see there is still a lot of work to do, and that I have run out of time."
"Good! I've seen enough. Take me back to my bed, Mr. President."
And he did. Scrooge found himself cold and alone. His surroundings were familiar, but this last visitor had not pleased him. What would the next one bring?