Ronald Reagan Essay, Research Paper
Ronald Reagan Reagan the Man, the President written by Hedrick Smith was a stirring biography of a man’s life. Ronald Reagan was the fortieth President of the United States. He had a successful career but a term of turmoil also came with it. He was involved in a huge scandal but, his economic policies were full of flaws and this brought his country’s economy down. He was a man who supposedly had no chance of winning the Presidency because he was an actor but dedication helped his cause. He seemingly had bad policies for the poor and the country as a whole. He was concerned with the foreign policy of the country and he had built up the national debt by his arms race with the Soviets. The country was in deep turmoil during and after his term of office. He was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico Illinois. His father sold shoes while, his son Ronald wanted to be an actor. In the Depression year of 1932 he graduated from nearby Eureka College, a conservative Protestant institution, where he had been active in sports and drama. He worked as a radio announcer until a screen test won him a contract at Warner Brothers in 1937. During the next decade and a half he appeared in fifty films. He was a man of great dedication. This was one of the main reasons why he ran for the Presidency. After, his acting career seemed to slow down he became interested in politics. He was originally a democrat and he admired Franklin Roosevelt ideas but, he began to move toward republicans during the 1950’s and he then joined the Republican Party. In 1962 he was apparently indifferent with government bureaucracy and the concern over Communism’s influence in his union. He reinforced his conservative bond by marrying Nancy Davis who shared his views. He became the Governor of California. He learned much from this stint in office as the Governor. He had difficulty dealing with the Democratic State legislature. As a Governor he was able to put on a hiring freeze on state jobs, but he was not able to obtain legislative support for lowering the taxes or for reducing the cost of the government. After two years he came to terms with the legislature. He learned how to listen and compromise. This is a priceless skill that all presidents need. This became part of his personality and helped him to be a better politician. In 1981 he was elected President. He tried to make immediate effects on the country. He reduced taxes but offset this reduction by cutting government programs. The Economic Recovery Act of 1981 mandated a 25% cut on everyone’s income. In December 1982, unemployment was 10.8% of the labor force. -12 million people were out of work. Among minorities and teenagers it was 24 percent and 20 percent. The Labor Unions also had problems. They did not demand much money or strike because; there were so many people willing to take their jobs. The New Deal created agency that supervised union collective-bargaining elections, putting an effective damper on unionization. Union membership dropped sharply during the Reagan years because, Reagan forced the unions to modify their demands. He did this by making an example of the air traffic controllers, who went on strike despite this the president fired all 11,000 of them. Reagan made it clear also that he was going to make it tough for people who can work but select to live on welfare. He reduced many welfare programs. Because of this, the poor got poorer. After, this it was discovered that families with children were the poor. This sparked the issue of expensive social security. Reagan wanted to cut the social security because; he wanted more money for the government. This was dropped quickly because older voters became upset. Reagan was willing to reduce benefits but he would not relent on his military builds up. He wanted the American forces to be as strong as the Soviets. He proposed an increase in defense spending which eventually happened. The national deficit in 1984 was at 650 billion dollars. This was more then any President to that date. It was 60 billion dollars with Jimmy Carter (thirty-ninth President). Deregulation occurred and many big companies were broken up. AT&T was broken up because it was becoming a monopoly. Also many airline companies were being broke up. There was then a strong environment push by the American people. They were afraid of a bad environment. Reagan obliged to a clean up of toxic dumps and any other volatile areas. Reagan created an aggressive foreign policy. After the Soviets shot down a Korean passenger plane, Reagan stressed the situation between the two superpowers. He planted missiles on NATO land near the Soviet Union. He continued the arms race with the Soviets and he put in place the SDI. This was the Strategic Defense Initiative; it was to counter the Soviet nuclear threat using a laser from satellites onto missiles coming into the American zone. This would shift the advantage between both super powers to the Americans. Anti-American Muslims then challenged him. They planted bombs to kill and wound Americans in assemblies (in Islamic countries). Then they took American hostages in Lebanon. Reagan then was pressured by the people to do something to save them and he eventually did. The President had personal charm, a relaxed manner, and his good looks seemed to help him avoid all conflict by the American people. He was a good communicator and he persuaded people to his side of many situations. This was ironic because at times he seemed very timid. He seemed to do no wrong.
He enforced his no-nonsense policy in Central America. He invaded Grenada to save seven hundred students studying for medical degrees. In Nicaragua, a pro-Soviet government was in place. America had to do something about it. They established spies and watched Nicaragua’s operations. Then Reagan decided to give weapons to the Contras to overthrow the government in place in Nicaragua. Eventually military aid was cut off. Nicaraguan peace was finally brought about in Reagan’s second term.There was no real progress in Reagan’s first term. He was just building up arms and increasing the national debt that continued to scare people. He still won in a landslide over Walter Mondalein 1984. He survived an assassination attempt, and a bout with colon cancer. These were things that hurt the President and his ability to run the country. He had lost that special flare. In his second term, he was caught between the controversy of the gay community and the rest of the people. The gay community said he was holding back medical resources to help cure this disease. Reagan said that he was for mandatory testing of AIDS and said that it was a moral obligation not to endanger others. He lost all support he had in the gay community. He also lost religious supporter who thought he did not support religious right. Reagan tried to fix this problem by appointed credible people to the Supreme Court but it did not work. Instead, he had horrible initial selections that hurt whatever chance he had to regain his support in the religious community. Reagan continued to lose support when a space shuttle blew up shortly after taking off. It seemed that NASA was trying to hold costs by not checking their shuttles well enough. He was held responsible for this malfunction. The Iran Contra Affair significantly marred the Reagan Presidency. The secret arms-for-hostages deal with Iran with the profit from the sale of weapons secretly shunted money to the Nicaraguan Contras. Reagan may have not known about it but the fact of his ignorance may have made him liable. Iran desperately needed arms to defeat the Iraqis. They had no weapons and they would pay for them at any cost. Reagan obliged by giving them arms. In return Reagan would receive hostages from Lebanon (Iran) and money. They would also have an influence with the Anti-American Muslims. Then the profits of the deal would go to the freedom fighters in Nicaragua. The freedom fighters were trying to overthrow the Communist government in Nicaragua. This Communist country posed a threat toward American prosperity. It was a seemingly perfect plan for American prosperity. Reagan approval rating went from 67% to 46% in one month after the Iran Contra affair. He had lost the respect of the American People.The tensions between the Soviet Union and American continued to increase. They suspected each other of spying. Because both sides knew this arms race was not good for either side, Reagan and Gorbachev signed an agreement eliminating all medium ranged missiles. The President left a huge economic cloud over this country’s head. He did this by his economic plan and the amount of money used for the arms race with Russia. This made a huge debt that the country would have to pay. The market crashed on December 19, 1987 and the Republicans lost control of the Senate. George Bush succeeded Reagan. He had increased the national debt to 650 billion dollars from 60 billion. He did this by his arms race with the Soviet Union. He also wanted to show the world that America was the superpower and that Communism would not intimidate it. He wanted to make a stand against Communism. This was his goal from the start. He had a relentless policy towards Communism and, his policies were. His other foreign policies toward Nicaragua set examples for George Bush therefore, his economic policies affected America for years to come. His reduction of welfare and other policies concerning the poor are still effecting Americans. His strong stand against labor unions is still effecting the country. America is still recovering from these policies. He was also part of one of the biggest scandals this country has ever had. The impact of the scandal was almost as great as Watergate. He was involved in an illegal arms deal with a rival country for hostages and money. This shaped America at the time because America never faced something as betraying as this. Historical events influenced him greatly. The stock market crash second-guessed his economic policies intensely. The Iran Contra Affair was something that tarnished his reputation forever. He was important to history because without him our economy at the time would not be as bad as it was. He did have problems with the economy because he reduced many programs but the reason he cut those programs was commendable. This was because he wanted to save his country from the threat of Communism. He wanted to focus on a tough foreign policy that would protect his country. Many people said that it was better if he worried about internal affairs but, the fact that Communism was alive and well forced Reagan to focus elsewhere. Ronald Reagan was a good President who did the best he could do for his country. He