Politics in the 1980s
Personally my politics do not often align with our country’s political leaders, the same would be true if I lived during the 1980s. Reagan is the face of much of what I see as problematic in politics today. He was warlike and reactionary, he pushed for an emphasis on free market economics when the people had been benefiting from just the opposite, and he cut government programs for the people while increasing the defense budget and providing tax cuts for the rich. The effect of his programs was mainly negative and the federal deficit increased while he was in power. Reagan oversaw covert actions such as the Iran-Contra affair undermining congress and making clear the utilitarian and reactionary calculus his administration used in the face of threats. Because of this example along with hundreds of others from presidents both before and after him Reagan is the poster-child for this form of logic and policy that endangers the country more than it protects.
Reaganomics, the system of a trickle-down effect from the rich to the poor is flawed from the start, and can only widen the wage gap. Supply-side economics like this actually caused a recession often termed the “Reagan Recession” because of the paradox it creates with the founding tenets of America. It makes the government act on behalf of corporations and the super-rich while leaving the rest of the people as an afterthought. At the same time as this system is cutting taxes for those at the top, it also cuts programs for those at the bottom of the metaphorical pyramid of America. The funding for those tax cuts comes out of the widespread welfare reform of the 1980s, the closure of countless mental health facilities across the country, and even targeted programs such as AFDC were cut back leading to an explosion of poverty in cities during the administration.
The War on Terror started by George W. Bush after the September 11th attacks and even earlier with Operation Infinite Reach during the Clinton administration are similar in many ways to anti-communist policies of the 1980s. Rhetorically these initiatives are supported by a strong emphasis on their potential to affect the US. The leaders of our country try to create a “rally around the flag” effect to ensure support for their own adventurism and logic of security. Bush passed the Patriot Act which has empirically stopped few, if any, actual terrorist threats, and has mainly led to invasions of privacy and profiling based on race and ethnicity on a broad scale. The War on Terror has done little more than destabilize the middle east and alienate a whole people from the country. The irrational fear of Islamic terror is similar to that of communism, since the rhetoric used against both constructs the threat in the minds of the fearful populace.
Overall Reagan marked was one in a long line of presidents whose hearts lay with the people but in the worst possible way. He became hyper-focused on communism and military spending, and forgot the material conditions of the nation’s least fortunate. In the end Reagan hurt the American people far more than he may have helped them.