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Reagan and the Eighties

“…Homeless by choice.? Trees that pollute more than automobiles. “Facts are stupid things.? Outlawing the Soviet Union. “If you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen ‘em all.? ‘Star Wars’ missile defense system. Astrologers in the White House. “I’ve never played a governor.? “We begin bombing in five minutes…?

Never doubt that Reagan did some truly evil things. Every time I see a mentally unstable homeless person in California, and you can see a lot of them in places like my hometown of Santa Cruz, I think of Reagan’s deregulation of the mental institutions when he was governor. There are so many more, including claiming that Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, was "totally dedicated to democracy" while he was wiping out villages in Guatemala. Allowing the CIA to mine harbors in Nicaragua. Approving of the atrocities in Argentina. Bombing Libya. The list goes on and on.
The Gipper is gone. Ronnie Ray-guns is no more.

I heard the news on Saturday night. It was hard to believe, like that moment in the Wizard Of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the East melts; too much. The implications only really dawned on me the following morning.

I can’t think about Reagan without thinking about the eighties. I was a child in suburban California in the eighties, and Reagan inaugurated my political consciousness when he was elected in November of 1980. I remember distinctly sitting at home watching TV, having a vague realization that this was a bad thing. I was six at the time.

The eighties were an evil in and of themselves. Miami Vice. Young republicans. More strip malls. Leg warmers. Michael Jackson. Pac-Man. The decade when greed became chic, conformity was fashionable, and the arms race boomed. Perhaps it was just the swing of the pendulum, perhaps it was the natural counterbalance to the idealism of the sixties and seventies. And I don’t want to discount some of the great things done in the eighties, such as the nuclear freeze and anti-apartheid movements, (not to mention a time when alternative music wasn’t just marketing jargon). But overall the eighties were a low-water mark for America. Hunter S. Thompson called it the ‘Generation of Swine’. And the head swine, the big pig, was Reagan.

Reagan brought something else in our political culture. Before Reagan, the executive branch may have held some very evil men, but they were still basically serious, moments like Nixon’s “Checkers? speech notwithstanding. The absurdity was still below the surface. Reagan changed all that. He was the first Idiot President, a man who could say that he ‘couldn’t recall’ the details of Iran-Contra, the biggest swindle since the bombing of Cambodia and get away with it.

“…Homeless by choice.? Trees that pollute more than automobiles. “Facts are stupid things.? Outlawing the Soviet Union. “If you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen ‘em all.? ‘Star Wars’ missile defense system. Astrologers in the White House. “I’ve never played a governor.? “We begin bombing in five minutes…?

Perhaps Reagan was a conscious reaction in the right to the public distrust that men like Nixon and Kissinger were earning, men whose intelligence was obvious and scary. Reagan, by comparison, could appear harmless to the masses. He could fund right wing death squads in El Salvador and look goofy on TV. He cast a Disneyland spell over the nation, an amnesiac fog. If modern capitalism in the first world is a commodity spectacle, as Guy Debord said, then Reagan was the king of the spectacle, the Teflon President, the man that nothing stuck to.

W. is an obvious outgrowth of that trend, and the mixture of the evil and the absurd that marks his presidency can be traced back to Reagan. When I think of McDonalds jobs being classified by the department of Labor as “light manufacturing?, I remember a Reagan appointee classifying ketchup as a vegetable to cut costs in the federal school lunch program.

Never doubt that Reagan did some truly evil things. Every time I see a mentally unstable homeless person in California, and you can see a lot of them in places like my hometown of Santa Cruz, I think of Reagan’s deregulation of the mental institutions when he was governor. There are so many more, including claiming that Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, was "totally dedicated to democracy" while he was wiping out villages in Guatemala. Allowing the CIA to mine harbors in Nicaragua. Approving of the atrocities in Argentina. Bombing Libya. The list goes on and on.

But even tyrants and actors die. The spell is broken. We will be living with the fallout from the Reagan years for a long time, and we in the left have few enough moments to celebrate in America today. This is one of them.
 
 


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Re: Reagan and the Eighties

Ya estamos celebrando que este idiota marioneta murrio. Su adminstracion ha matado a miles y miles de gente innocente en Nicaragua. Fue el primer terrorista idiota que era presidente. Hijo de puta, era un actor!! No era presidente! El primer Bush fue el jefe. Exactamente como ahora, "W" no es presidente, el maldito Cheney es el presidente actual, o al minimo, es el cavaron que lleva los pantalones.

No vamos a llorar ningun lagrimas.
Descansa en pedazos.
 

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