I have long held that history is going to judge Ronald Reagan as one of the two or three worst presidents of the twentieth century. We are still paying a great price for his terrible lack of good judgment. And I remain absolutely baffled that anyone would believe otherwise.
First, the environment. Under Carter we had made a good beginning in developing alternate sources of energy but — in an amazing display of short-sightedness — Reagan called nearly a complete halt to the progress. All he cared about was that there was still lots of oil in the ground. He was an amazingly simplistic man who could not grasp more than one idea at a time, so he seemed unable to comprehend that there were many undesirable ramifications to our over-dependence on oil. Now we can stop and ask, How many people, how many thousands of people have lost their lives because of the world’s “need” for oil?
Second, government regulation. Reagan had this completely indefensible blind trust in the financiers of the world so he worked hard to minimize government regulation. And we are still struggling to recover from the damage wrought by the unlimited greed and limited morality of our financial leaders. Time and time again it is proven that in America, where big money is concerned — such as with the recent EpiPen problem — ethics provides no constraint whatsoever.
Or we can look at trump, who has made lots of money by cheating and deceiving. There is no sign that he has any ethical sensitivity at all. No sign. Yet Reaganites love him.
Ah, but remember that Reagan caused the downfall of Communism, they tell me. That’s utter nonsense. In the first place, Reagan’s commitment to favoring oppressive regimes in Central and South magnified the growth of Communism by making the wealthy people into enemies of the common folk. As one of my friends put it after ten years in Central America, “Reagan is the best recruiter the Communists have ever had.”
And in the second place, I have made numerous trips to Russia, beginning in 1998. It took only a glance around to make it clear that Communism was collapsing under its own cumbersome weight. Russian Communism was its own great enemy, not Reagan, who contributed little if anything to its failure.
There is in Russia’s Far East a town called Magadan, whose grisly past I will write about at some other time. Like most places around the world where there is permafrost, the tallest buildings are five stories high because the soil cannot support any more weight. But in Magadan, there is one building which is 10 or 12 stories high. It is empty and unfinished. The soil under it started giving way before they had built any inner walls or installed any windows. It is just a shell. It was started in the late 80s and was meant to be the headquarters for the regional Communist party. It is a perfect symbol for Russian Communism: They thought they were better than nature itself and ended up being just an empty shell.
Reagan had nothing to do with it. No, the blame goes all the way back to Lenin and his flawed, unrealistic thinking. Lenin, whose 30 foot tall statue stands in front of the empty ghost of a building. The statue and the building combine to reveal the self-defeating hubris of Russian Communism.
Some people have called for carving the face of Reagan on Mount Rushmore. Just picture that mountain: George Washington, whose bold and smart strategies as a general were a major reason we won the Revolutionary War and whose calm wisdom protected the newly-forming United States from the radical voices that would have pulled us too far one way or the other; Thomas Jefferson, who best expressed the ideas and ideals that form the core of the American dream; Abraham Lincoln, who guided the nation out of slavery even while preserving the Union despite the awful Civil War; Teddy Roosevelt, the wild outdoorsman who more than any other channeled the spirit of the frontiersmen into a modern reverence for the beauty of the American continent; Ronald Reagan, who . . .who. . .who did nothing.