By Alan Caruba
January 20 marks the 27th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s inaugural in 1981. The following day will be the anniversary of his 1985 inaugural. His two terms in office turned me from a knee-jerk (emphasis on the jerk) liberal and Democrat into a conservative Republican. I think he did that to a lot of others as well.
The only other President in the modern era to whom I can think to compare him is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Both significantly transformed the nation’s political life. Roosevelt created the era of Big Government, the Nanny State in which Americans looked to Washington, D.C., to protect them against everything from economic risk to natural disasters like Katrina. In truth, neither then, nor now, can government do this.
Indeed, it is, more often than not, the cause of economic problems with its environmental mandates, endless regulations, and of course its tax programs.
Born in 1937, I grew up in a home where Roosevelt was revered. He tried all manner of programs to get Americans out from under the burdens of the Great Depression and he made a lot of very good decisions about the conduct of World War II.
Whoever is our next President is going to be facing some very severe economic troubles and we better hope they will know how to resolve them. The entire banking structure, just as in the days of the Great Depression, will be severely tested because, in the end, it depends on that most elusive of all qualities, trust.
Reagan brought other qualities to the office that it dearly needed, confidence and optimism. He put an end to any second term damage that the then-President, Jimmy Carter, could do. Among the nation’s presidents, Carter is likely to be judged by historians as one of the worst. In 1980, most Americans had already come to that conclusion.
Reagan had the goal of bringing the Soviet Union to its knees and he did. That freed the world of his day from the menace of Communism. Bush43 knew he had to put the evil genie of a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism back in the bottle and he may well have set the stage for that.
I think Reagan would be very disappointed with the Republican Party today. Surely a lot of us who are Republicans feel that the party has lost touch with its principles of small government, a prudent fiscal policy, and a strong defense posture. The GOP lost control of Congress in the last election and, if the economy worsens, it may well lose the White House and its critical numbers in Congress that serve as a brake on the Democrats.
I frankly fear for a nation run by the wife of a former, flawed and feckless president, and by the likes of Rep. Pelosi in the House and Sen. Reid in the Senate. None have demonstrated anything but political gamesmanship and a naked desire for the reins of power. Even if Sen. Obama were to be elected, his youth and inexperience does not bode well for troubled times.
We are not going to be able to spend our way out of the present and looming crisis, but that will be the only thing any Democrat is going to try to do.
So I will celebrate this anniversary and say a prayer for America.