Politics

What Did Ronald Reagan Accomplish?

What Did Ronald Reagan Accomplish

Let us start by making it clear that this article is specifically intended to point out only the the personal and public accomplishments of Ronald Reagan. It in no way proposes that those accomplishments were all good ones. Each reader will have to determine that for themselves.

Ronald Reagan grew up in the tiny midwestern town of Tampico, Illinois with a population of under 1000. At age nine, he moved with his family to the big city (population 14,000) of Dixon, Illinois. Young Ronald’s first accomplishment was when he graduated from Eureka College (Eureka, Illinois) in 1932. His next one was getting his first job in the public eye as a sports announcer for WOC radio in Davenport, Iowa (which just so happens to be this author’s home town).

In 1937 Ronald Reagan travelled to California in order to cover a sporting event. He was asked if he would like to play the part of a radio announcer in the movie, “Love Is On The Air” which became the first of more than 50 movies he would star in until his final film (“The Killers”) in 1964. Reagan’s critics often like to call him a “B” movie actor but that ignores the fact that he also starred in major films including “Knute Rockne All American (1940)”, and “Kings Row (1942)”. In 1940, Reagan married acadamy award-winning actress Jane Wyman (“The Yearling”, “Johnny Belinda”, “Falcon Crest“).

Reagan was drafted into the Army in December of 1941, shortly after the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. He was near-sighted and, therefore, not allowed to serve in the actual fighting so he spent his three year hitch using his fame to help the war effort by making training films, propaganda films, and buy bonds films.

In 1947 Ronald Reagan was elected to be the President of the Screen Actors Guild and was becoming increasingly active in politics in general. His high level of activity is often blamed for his divorce from Jane Wyman in 1948. Then four years later Reagan married another actress, Nancy Davis who would be his love until his death. Reagan was devoted to Nancy and even wrote her love notes while President of the United States in his seventies! Even with all of his outside interests, Reagan did manage to accomplish having a family. He and Jane Wyman had a daughter (Maureen) in 1941 and adopted a son (Michael) in 1945. Then Nancy Reagan gave her husband another daughter (Patricia “Patty”) in 1952 and a son (Ronald) in 1958.

Ronald Reagan also hosted the TV series; “General Electric Theater” (228 episodes, 1954-1962) and appeared in roles on numerous episodes. When the series returned in 1964 (as “Death Valley Days”), Reagan appeared as a guest star on another eight episodes. His acting career ended one year after his final appearance when he became the Governor of California. Reagan did appear on television many more times after becoming Governor and even during and after his Presidency but never again as an actor, rather mostly on news programs, at sporting events, on “Biography”, on historical shows, etc. He did also make some brief appearances on entertainment shows while Governor including the “Carol Burnett Show“, “Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour“, “Tonight Show With Johnny Carson“, “Joey Bishop Show“, and the “Dean Martin Show“. While such appearances may have been considered “unseemly” by most Governors; Reagan’s unique personality, his show business background, and California’s show biz image allowed him to not only get away with those appearances, he gained many new admirers as a politician who was “down to Earth”.

Reagan was originally a Democrat but in the 1960 elections he decided to support Republican Richard Nixon over the Democratic nominee, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In 1962 Reagan officially changed his party affiliation to Republican. By 1966, Reagan’s former movie star fame combined with his growing political promenance carried him into the Governorship of the state of California and he was re-elected for a second term. He became known as one of the few politicians who used “straight talk” with his constituents and “told it like it was”! The voting public loved Ronny for his down to Earth demeanor and his willingness to risk political problems by telling the public what he really thought.

Just two years after becoming California’s Governor at the 1968 Republican Convention, Ronald Reagan was considered as a leading candidate for President! He actually got 182 delegates to vote for him versus 277 votes for Nelson Rockefeller and 692 votes for Richard Nixon who went on to win the Presidency. Nixon easily won re-election in 1972 but Reagan remained a major force in the party. In 1976, President Gerald Ford, who took over the Presidency after Nixon resigned, was given the opportunity to win a term of his own and did so but only narrowly won over challenger Ronald Reagan. Reagan had enough votes going into the convention to force Ford into fighting for more votes at the convention. In other words, Reagan nearly defeated a sitting President for his party’s nomination with a final vote of 52.6% for Ford to 47.4% for Reagan! The party as a whole later regretted their choice as Ford lost to Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, a barely known Governor of Georgia.

In 1980 Reagan finally won the Republican nomination and held Carter to one term by trouncing him with 489 electoral votes to just 49 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote to 41% (7% for John Anderson)! Carter only won six states and Washington, D.C. He also carried enough Republicans into the U.S. Senate that they controlled it for the first time in 28 years!

Just 2 months after taking over as President, Ronald Reagan was shot but recovered fairly quickly. This endeared him even more to Americans not only from sympathy but also because of his attitude about being shot. He actually seemed much more concerned about how his shooting would affect the American citizens and their security than he was about himself. He also reportedly joked with the doctors and nurses. He even joked with his surgeon and the support staff by saying, “I hope you’re all Republicans” right before the began surgery. Even Reagan’s political enemies were admiting that the guy was pretty hard to dislike as a person.

In 1984, Reagan won by an even bigger landslide than the one in 1980! His opponent (Walter Mondale) only won 13 electoral votes to Reagan’s 525, 40.56% of the popular vote to Reagan’s 58.77%, and only one state and Washington, D.C. to Reagan’s 49 states!

Ronald Reagan’s main accomplishments during his Presidency were as follows:

  • Tax Reform Act of 1986 – Reduced top tax rates but also eliminated loopholes.
  • Raised Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Reduced the increase of regulations on business.
  • Only administration to not raise the minimum wage (through George W. Bush).
  • Huge increases in military spending which created huge budget deficits but were also most likely responsible for bankrupting and disolving the Soviet Union and freeing many Easter European nations from tyranny.
  • Initiated first meeting with the Soviets to decrease nuclear weapons.
  • The U.S. went from the #1 creditor nation to the #1 debtor nation during Reagan’s Presidency.
  • The Reagan Administration sold arms to the Iranians for the release of hostages and money. The money was used to provide funding to the Contra militants in Nicaragua. Both actions were illegal. After initially appearing to try to cover-up the scandal, Reagan finally admitted what happened, that he was unaware of most of it, and that all such activities had been ended.
  • So Ronald Reagan was without a doubt one of our most interesting Presidents. He lowered taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor. His underlings engaged in illegal activities on a par with Richard Nixon’s Watergate. He took the U.S. from the leading lender to the leading borrower in the world by blowing up the budget. On the other hand he also was a straight talking guy who leveled with the American people. He played the key role in destroying the Soviet Union, greatly decreased the threat of a nuclear holocaust, and freed millions of people from dictatorship. He ended many of the tax “tricks” that some of the rich used to pay no taxes at all. Perhaps most important, he gave Americans a feeling that we could accomplish anything!

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    Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

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