Reagan: Nudging the world

By Staff
June 9, 2004
History was marching one way, Ronald Reagan wanted it to march in another direction, and the amazing thing is he won.
Not entirely, of course. But as you read the various commentaries and analysis since his death, you realize that he did in fact help slow or reverse major trends some thought unyielding. Consider:
The Soviet Union was not just a fact of life when Reagan was first elected in 1980, but a massive, oppressive fact of life for the millions enslaved by its Marxist economic system and other millions fearful of its aggressiveness. Reagan kept the peace when it was far from certain peace would be kept, while also taking policy steps that helped prompt a Soviet disintegration hardly anyone had predicted. His six magic words in Berlin, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," still resonate.
At home, the U.S. economy was crawling along and the federal tax system was a scandal: The rates were burdensomely high, the complications endless. Reagan re-energized the economy and took important steps toward fixing the tax system, in part by reducing taxes and simultaneously making them flatter and less ridden with exemptions. While defense and other spending sent deficits on skyward journeys, Reagan's policies were major factors leading to renewed economic growth with relatively low inflation.
Americans in 1980 were down on themselves, and down on many of the principles that had served them so well. Reagan helped make us believe in ourselves again, and along the way, brought many to see the perils of big, overly intrusive government. American politics would not be the same after Reagan.
The means by which Reagan effected change are hardly a secret. He was a magnificent speaker communicating strong convictions, a kind, largely unflappable, optimistic leader, focused on just a few broad goals. He was a man of faith convinced America had a special destiny in the world. He proved the point that if one can put the right words together in the right way, one can nudge the world a little.

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