Ronald Reagan's Presidency

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Explore both the strengths and weaknesses of Ronald Reagan's presidency. What has made his vision so dominant ever since?  

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Ronald Reagan's strength was in part his communication skills. With his affable demeanor, good looks, and smooth delivery, he was able to convey a likability that appealed to American voters. His promise of renewing American strength and military power also appealed to Americans who had witnessed the country's loss in...

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Ronald Reagan's strength was in part his communication skills. With his affable demeanor, good looks, and smooth delivery, he was able to convey a likability that appealed to American voters. His promise of renewing American strength and military power also appealed to Americans who had witnessed the country's loss in Vietnam and the country's growing economic malaise during the stagflation (combined inflation and unemployment) of the 1970s. Like the characters he often played in Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s, he seemed to symbolize a return to wholesome values and traditions and to the sense of a strong America; this promise of American renewal has helped make his vision dominant ever since his presidency. His policies were also credited by many with bringing down the Soviet Union, largely by outspending them and causing their eventual collapse after he left office. 

His weakness was his economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics." Many believe that his policies, which combined cutting taxes for the rich with increased military spending, led to the stock market crash of 1987 and to vastly increasing the size of the federal deficit. In addition, his policies ignored the plight of the poor, as he falsely believed that cutting taxes on the rich would create jobs--a policy referred to as "trickle-down economics." While the rich benefited from his tax cuts, he froze the minimum wage, creating a widening gap between the rich and poor that has only increased today. In addition, he possibly engaged in lying related to the Iran-Contra affair, a scandal in which his administration used money from the secret sale of arms to Iran to fund a war against the government in Nicaragua. This funding had been outlawed by Congress. Reagan claimed that members of his administration had engaged in this deceit with his knowledge, but he either lied about the Iran-Contra affair or was so distanced from the functioning of his government that he did not know about it. 

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