Reagan fans: what did Reagan do that you admire?

I’ve read a couple of recent posts in which the writers said they consider Ronald Reagan to be one of our greatest Presidents. I think there are others feel the same way. So my question is what exactly to you base that on?

I’m not talking about feelings like “he restored my faith in America” or “he stood for what was right” or “I trusted him”. There are people who have the same feelings for Barack Obama.

I’m also not talking about hypothetical things like the supposition that if Reagan hadn’t been President, the Soviet Union would have overrun Europe or the price of oil would be $1000 a barrel. Again, these are just personal opinions.

I’m asking for objective facts. Specific actions that you can point to and say “Ronald Reagan did this and it was a good thing.”

And I’m not interested in those people who have a list of reasons why they hated Ronald Reagan and think he was a terrible President. If you want to discuss that subject, go start your own thread.

I don’t know if I’m a ‘fan’ of Reagan, or think he’s the greatest US President ever, so my answers may not be what you want to hear, but I’ll give it a shot.

For me, Reagan turned the economy around and got us on a track that I think set up the economy as it exists today…the good, the bad and the ugly. It broke us from the apathy and stagnation of the 70’s and put us on a new course. I grant that some of the aspects of that turn around were initially put in place by Carter (who I saw as a particularly weak and ineffective President)…in similar ways that things initiated by Reagan and Bush I culminated under Clinton (who is also one of my favorite Presidents). It’s hard to explain to people who didn’t live through the 70’s how bad things felt then. What’s happening today, bad as it is, doesn’t have the same feel to me as what was going on at that time.

And I don’t want to give the impression that Reagan fixed everything, and made everything right with the world…he didn’t. A lot of the problems we have today stem from things that were changed under Reagan. The seeds of the various Gulf Wars, for instance, as well as what’s happening in Afghanistan were planted then. And on the economics front, may of the problems we have today stem from that time as well. But the overall direction of the US on both the foreign policy stage and economically shifted, IMHO, during Reagan’s presidency, and overall I think his administration was a positive for the US. I know that many 'dopers, including the OP who I suspect is waiting with many ‘Gotcha!’ comments will disagree…in fact, I suspect that most 'dopers will disagree. But that’s my answer, FWIW.


What do you feel that Reagan specifically did that changed the economy? For example, what economic policies made by the Reagan administration were different from the economic policies that would have been made by a Carter/Mondale administration during 1981-1989?

My grandmother is a huge Reagan fan and the above is her answer. She loves telling the story of how Reagan told Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”…and he did.

Anecdotal it is, but that’s pretty much it for the only Reagan fan who has expressed a strong reason why.

Probably the biggest change I can think of off the top of my head was the changes in tax policy and some of the deregulation that took place…like I said, it wasn’t all good, but it was a different direction. Part of it stemmed from changes Carter made late in his presidency (the appointment of Paul Volcker certainly had an impact). Part of it was just the change in feel that took place when Reagan became President…much as people felt about the country when Obama became President. The country just felt different, like change was in the air. I mean, we had gone from Johnson and the Vietnam disaster, to Nixon and Watergate and scandal, to Ford’s seemingly non-Presidency caretaker administration to Carters sweaters and pessimism…it had been a bad time, both economically and psychologically (obviously MMV, and a lot of lefty types definitely did NOT look on a Reagan presidency with anything but horror…and, equally obviously, a lot of lefty types looked on Carter with a much more favorable light).


I earned my Eagle Scout badge during President Reagan’s second term. I received a handwritten letter from him congratulating me on my accomplishment along with a flag that hand been flown over the US Capitol.

I think that was pretty cool.

Reagan was a couragious president that stopped the Soviet Union. His Star War hoax, scared the soviets making theirs budget to reach the limits.
I also like how Reagan defined the “Services Economy”, an economy where everybody cut the hair to each other.

Got a cite for that? A reliable one, I mean.

What is it you like about that definition?

It is a way to say or to read what happened. Reagan really believed the project Star War will work. But pretty soon it become clear that building the massive gear of the project was a task harder than suspected. For instance, the X-ray lasers are still today way beyond technology, and many other projects are still a dream. However, they continue ahead, anyways. Why they did? I suspect they had a plan to push presure into the Soviet military budget because they knew the Soviets couldn’t expend as much as Americans in such exotic technology.
If it was not what was planned, it seems it worked anyways. The Soviet Union realized they had to reformed theirs economy and make it more competitive if they want to continue compiting with the Americans. We know what happened next.

Reagan opposed the desindustrialization of the U.S.A. and the shipping of the industry to Asia. He predicted that the “services” economy had no substance, no support. It seems he was right after all.

I was young and impressionable. The first vote I ever cast for president was for Reagan. I listened in awe to his masterful speeches. It was not until much later that I gained sufficient insight to realize that this monumental figure had feet of clay.

I do not believe Ronald Reagan was a cynic. I think that in some way he really, truly believed in everything he said, even when he got it all wrong.

For all the wrong directions he took us in however, there were some genuine achievements in his administration:

A) He changed the way government did business. From Johnson’s Great Society to Nixon’s authoritarianism to Carter’s well-intentioned bumbling we had developed a bloated, inefficient, unwieldy, self-perpetuating federal bureaucracy. Reagan reduced and streamlined the federal agencies (some of which admittedly should not have been cut), effected regulatory reform and returned some power to the states. While this had mixed results, it was not a trivial thing.

B) He recognized not only the inherent evils of Soviet-style Communism, but also it’s built-in weaknesses. He was able to understand that with a few well-placed nudges in the right direction the Soviet bloc would collapse under its own weight. Reagan did not by any stretch of the imagination bring about the collapse single-handedly, but he was certainly instrumental in Communism’s demise.

C) The OP should not take so lightly statements like “He restored my faith in America”, because that in & of itself was quite an accomplishment. Someone who was not around during that time might fail to realize the high level of malaise that was so prevalent. There had been the horrors of Viet Nam, the endless cold war, the dark paranoia and outright criminality of Nixon, the seeming ineffectiveness of Carter, the was a recession going on and inflation was running amok. The 70’s were not good times. Reagan changed that. He imparted a sense of confidence and esprit to the nation. He was the first president since JFK to put a positive note into the public discourse.

For better or for worse, Reagan had that elusive quality known as “leadership”.

This is not a cite. This is your opinion. Do you have any cites to back up your assertions?

Again, do you have any cites for that? Because I can offer you a cite right from the horse’s mouth that contradicts what you just wrote.



That’s from his State of the Union Address on January 25, 1983, btw.

Again. It is my oppinion, of course. Not a cite. Read the press of the time, probably you will find some newspaper that said the same. I have not denied it is my oppinion on the man!
Either take it or ignore it.

I watched and admired Reagan from afar (I’m Canadian) as he seemed to rescue America from the doldrums it was stuck in.

More specifically, it was post Vietnam, the Watergate stench had not yet drifted off, people were discouraged and cynical, the economy was going nowhere, US citizens had been kidnapped and were being held hostage by a bunch of slogan spouting young “Arabs” (with the media forcing us to confront this humiliation every day) and, of course, the icing on the ‘US is impotent cake’, the failed hostage rescue attempt (and the subsequent front page photo of a bearded “Arab” mocking the US while he picked at the charred bones of American special force soldiers).

Enter Ronald Reagen. He acted decisively and proudly. His was no meek, self-doubting America. Under his watch, US military actions worked (yes, it was only Grenada, but that misses the point). His voice was clear and firm when he called the Soviets for what they were, and stronger still when he told Gorbachev what he must do.

In brief, he restored America’s faith in itself. Once that was done, everything else - all the recriminations, doubt, cynicism, depression . . . - all of it, was history.

Considering that the OP asked for specific, objective facts, I’ll leave it and ignore it.

I don’t recall a photo like that. Was this on newspapers or on a magazine?

I don’t want to argue over opinions but this is factually wrong. The Soviet Union existed when Reagan took office and it still existed when he left office. He obviously did not stop it.

Again, this is factually incorrect. The federal government increased in size during Reagan’s presidency.

I think it was in the newspapers, but it’s also possible it was in TIME magazine or similar.

I am pretty certain the photo I am recalling is either the first one in this link or from a very similar series. WARNING - LINK CONTAINS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF US MILITARY CASUALTIES

Thanks, Karl. Permit me to disagree with your description from your previous post. I don’t see “mocking” or any picking at charred bones.

I hardly think he was anywhere near our greatest president, but he did do two things that were very good. First, he escaped from his handlers and very nearly negotiated an end to nuclear weapons. It would never have gone all the way through, but he saw through the strategy and MAD and 40 years of status quo.

Second, he organized the committee that reformed Social Security. As someone who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he understood how important this is. That was an excellent bipartisan effort, something we no longer see.