posted on 24 May 2016
Written by Frank Li
In two previous posts, I discussed "American conservatism" (What is American Conservatism, Anyway?) and called Donald Trump a true Reagan conservative (Who is Donald Trump, Anyway?). Neither post can be fully appreciated without an objective assessment of President Ronald Reagan, which is what this post is about ...
1. President Ronald Reagan
Here is a summary of Reagan's Presidency from Wikipedia - Ronald Reagan:
I largely agree with Wikipedia's summary of Reagan's Presidency. On top of that, I consider Reagan the best American President after WWII, at least!
President Reagan's two most significant achievements:
Nevertheless, for historic accuracy, it is important to understand three major misconceptions about President Reagan:
Let me elaborate on each ...
3. Ending the Cold War
Simply put, President Reagan has been given too much credit for ending the Cold War! Two important factors:
In short, communism is such a bad ideology that it has bankrupted all the countries that have adopted it, including both China, which did not have any arms-race with any other country, and the USSR, with or without an arms-race with America!
Why, then, did America get into such a huge arms-race with the USSR? Blame the MIC!
4. The MIC
The MIC expanded rapidly on President Reagan's watch, which he felt, most likely, was validated by the Cold War.
President Reagan obviously ignored President Dwight D. Eisenhower's explicit warning about the MIC (farewell address)! Yet, despite this warning and an increasing evidence of the demise of communism on its own, no American President since Eisenhower, including President Reagan, has seriously attempted to contain the MIC!
As a result, the MIC is so big and so out-of-control now that it is a huge existential threat to America, second only to socialism/communism! For more, read: Democratic Socialism vs. Democratic Imperialism.
5. American conservatism
President Reagan accurately and succinctly defined American conservatism for his time!
Unfortunately, the federal government expanded rapidly on President Reagan's watch, from the national debt to the number of federal employees, thanks, in no small part, to the MIC! For more, read: Ronald Reagan's big government legacy.
Note: after reading the above reference, if you think President Bill Clinton was a genius, read: The Myth of The Bill Clinton Presidency.
An American President is not a king or dictator (e.g. China’s Mao Zedong), and is thus limited in greatness (e.g. China’s Deng Xiaoping) or destructive power (e.g. Adolf Hitler). In other words, no American President, past, present, or future, should be revered as a great king, either in form or in substance! Why not? Because there has never been, and there will never be, a great American President comparable in achievements with great kings in human history (e.g. Alexander the Great, China’s First Emperor, and China’s Deng)! It is simply not what the American Presidency was designed to be! More pointedly, the U.S. Constitution was specifically written to limit the powers of the American President to prevent the tyranny of another king! Furthermore, because of the getting the re-elected ad nauseam thing, there have been more and more disastrous American Presidents (e.g. JFK, Bush II, and Obama) than bad ones (e.g. Jimmy Carter). For more, read: American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?
While acknowledging Ronald Reagan as the best American President after WWII, at least, we must also recognize his shortcomings, not only to be true historically, but, more importantly, to draw lessons for our present and future.
The Cold War ended in 1991. Instead of pursuing world peace, America, the only superpower left on earth at the time, in terms of both economic and military power, greatly and aggressively expanded its global influence, both ideologically (i.e. democracy, which does not even work at home) and militarily (e.g. NATO, which is obsolete), with disastrous results today and for decades to come! Two examples,
What does this have to do specifically with President Reagan? He decisively won the Cold War for us, but several Reagan doctrines have been distorted over the past 25 years! Two examples:
Correctly assessing an American President is always difficult, considering the widely opposing views of all things political. For example, despite mounting evidence that President JFK actually committed the worst anti-America act with his Executive Order 10988, creating public-sector unions as a large pool of takers against the makers and thus dooming our future, many Americans are still blithely unaware of it! For more, read: Diagnosis for America (Version 3).
This post has, hopefully, given you a new perspective of President Reagan.
Finally, let me emphasize that given a chance, Donald Trump may out-perform President Ronald Reagan, especially in terms of fixing the MIC. For more, read: Fixing the Military-Industrial Complex!
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