Ron Reagon - Most Influential Player of the 1980's Government Impact

The 1980s Experience

The decade of the 1980’s was filled with a multitude of global, cultural, and economic issues. There are many figures in history that had a significant impact on the outcome spawned from some of these rising worldwide issues. One of the most influential players of the 1980’s governmental impact was our 40th US President. Ronald Reagan had two full terms filled with every aspect of conflict imaginable to a president. From an attempted assassination only 69 days after taking office to the resurrection and demise of the Cold War, his presidency was monumental in the growth and development of this great nation.

On January 20, 1981 Ronald W. Reagan took the office of the White House. Mr. Reagan did not have an easy task ahead of him. The United States was still recovering from Vietnam and facing high inflation and unemployment rates. The American people did not trust their government due to the mistrust of the recent past presidents. Ronald Reagan stated in his inauguration speech that “government is not the solution to our problems; government is the
problem” (Kirshon, 1987). With those comments, Ronald Reagan began his administration as President of the United States of America.

Ronald Reagan had a way with words and a confidence about him that relaxed the people around him. This confidence carried over into every aspect of his administration. Reagan was able to work with Congress and obtain legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment and strengthen national defense. When communication alone failed with Congress, Reagan took it to the people to get his policies passed. President Reagan became known during his presidency as the “Great Communicator”.

Reagan did face bumps in the road his first year. In 1981 President Reagan fired 12,000 air traffic controllers who went on strike for better working conditions. This ushered in a new and dark era of labor relations, with employers now free to "permanently replace" striking workers. The median real wage failed to grow during the decade of the 1980s (Weisbrot, 2004).

Reagan’s reelection in 1984 was a landslide win for the Republican Party. Reagan, by the votes of America, was favored to lead the United States of America in another term by 59% of the popular vote. With all of the social and political changes occurring in 1984, Reagan had to deliver twice as much as before as the president. As things dwindled down from the election some practices of the twice elected president came to a startling reality.

It was the summer of 1987 when Reagan spoke to the American public concerning some of his practices in covert foreign affair. The Specific name of the incident for Reagan’s speech was Iran Contra. During the speech the president outlined many new policies and procedures for his covert operations. Reagan established a Tower Board of review to in depth the practices of not only Reagan’s actions from 1985-1987, but is administrations. One of the main catalysts for the creation of this speech was the Iran Contra involving United States hostages being released after arms trades. The president admitted in his speech to trading the arms, but did not clarify when, as he didn’t know exactly. Additionally some of the minor changes spawned from Tower Board review included simplistic items such as strict note taking at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings, and a realignment of department heads in the CIA and NSC. Reagan expressed in his address the trust he had for these men and that they could be trusted as well. (1997)

Reagan’s address to the people spawned a plethora of questions and emotions. Even after the address of admitting to certain aspects of being an immoral president, his rating still showed favorability. Reagan did offer many policies in his second term but most note-able was his honesty to the American people. During Reagan’s first term and political race he publicly referred to the Soviet Union as an evil empire bent of world domination. A president, boasting such accusations concerning the Soviet Union, added fuel to the Cold War fire. This fire, along with the veil of the cold war, brought new enemies to fruition. Such enemies included the Iranians, which took American hostages in exchange for arms. New enemies were sprouting up all over the world. The president knew something had to be done considering the now growing Cold War. (1997)

During the final years of Reagan’s presidency he ultimately changed his view of the Soviet Union after many encounters with Mikhail Gorbachev. These encounters and talks produced a series of policies forged with the intent to end the Cold War. Had the president and Gorbachev not taken these crucial steps the Cold War and Soviet Union may still exist today, without a hint of peace in sight. Both historical and economic evaluations of the 1980s in the present show that the “Decade of Greed” was not nearly as greedy as portrayed at the time. However, the portrayals of it in the media are self-aggrandizing with such descriptions as the “me decade” (D’souza, 1997).

Were the yuppies of the 1980s any more self-indulgent than the flappers of the 1920s, or the young college students that burned their draft cards in the 1960s? Charitable giving by individuals jumped by almost 55% during that decade compared with the previous twenty-five years (McKenzie, 1992). The feminist Barbara Ehrenreich took the liberal argument, writing a collection of essays titled, “The Worst Years of Our Lives: Irreverent Notes from a Decade of Greed.”

The term Reaganomics was coined during President Reagan’s first term to describe the policy of small government and raising interest rates to combat “stagflation.” It also involved lowering taxes and curtailing spending for social services. However, these all combined with a reduction of growth in the money supply by the Federal Reserve to produce a recession in 1981-82. After this time, the low interest and inflation rates allowed continuous economic growth (www.answers.com, 2007). The so-called “Decade of Greed” appears not to have been so greedy after all.

The global community of the 1980s did not exist as compared with the vast computer networks and satellite communications of today. Satellites were available for use, but since the World Wide Web had not been invented yet and cell phone technology was in its infancy, communications were limited to newspapers, telephones, and television. All of the tremendous strides in science and political negotiation that were seen over the decade took place with what seems like antiquated, obsolete technology that was state-of-the-art at the time.

Overall, it is clear and evident the abundant impact that Ronald Reagan had on the growth and development of the United States, as well as the rest of the world. The 1980’s held many firsts in government policy as well as, they also showed the rest of the world “what not to do and why”! There were many crucial points of world conflict avoided by the Great Communicator and his staff. There are multiple stories of how an ordinary man became an
extraordinary leader and they all speak well of President Reagan.

References:

(1997). American experience: The presidents. Retrieved August 21, 2007, from American Experience: The Presidents Reagan Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/40_reagan/printable.html

(2007). Reaganomics. Retrieved August 22, 2007, from answers.com Web site: http://www.answers.com/topic/reaganomics?cat=biz-fin

D'souza, D (1997). The decade of greed that wasn't. Retrieved August 22, 2007, from dineshdsouza.com Web site: http://www.dineshdsouza.com/articles/decadeofgreed.htm

Kirshon, J.W. (Ed.). (1987). Chronicle of the 20th century. Kisco, NY: Chronicle Publicationa Inc..

McKenzie, R (1992, August 31). Decade of greed?. Retrieved August 22, 2007, from nationalreview.com Web site: http://www.nationalreview.com/reagan/mckenzie200406101412.asp

Weisbrot, M (2004, June 7). Ronald Reagan's legacy. Retrieved August 22, 2007, from Common Dream Web site: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0607-09.htm