Ronald W. Reagan (1981-1989)

Ronald ReaganIn addition to being President of the United States, Reagan (February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004) was also the 33rd Governor of California (1967-1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, where he became an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric. His start in politics occurred during his work for GE; originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

As president, Reagan implemented new political initiatives as well as economic policies, advocating a laissez-faire philosophy, but the extent to which these ideas were implemented is debatable. The supply side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics," included substantial tax cuts implemented in 1981. After surviving an assassination attempt and ordering controversial military actions in Grenada, he was re-elected in a landslide victory in 1984.

Reagan's second term was marked by the ending of the Cold War, as well as a number of administration scandals, notably the Iran-Contra affair. The president ordered a massive military buildup in an arms race with the Soviet Union, foregoing the previous strategy of détente. He publicly portrayed the USSR as an "Evil Empire" and supported anti-Communist movements worldwide. Despite his rejection of détente, he negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to shrink both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan left office in 1989; in 1994 the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He died ten years later at the age of ninety-three, and ranks highly among former U.S. presidents in terms of approval rating.¹

Quotes

"Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources."

"How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting."

"I'm not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."

"I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress."

Noteworthy Sites

¹ Ronald W. Reagan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Books on Ronald Reagan
Biography of Ronald W. Reagan
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation
Essays on Ronald Wilson Reagan and His Administration

 


 
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