’s Conservative Crusade Essay, Research Paper
The conservative tide all started with one man in the White House… Ronald Reagan. The people of the 80’s were looking for a president who could bring down inflation, lower the taxes, and address issues such as abortion, busing, and gun control. They found that in a retired actor who had lots of charisma and conservative views. Before Reagan was president he had served as a California governor in 1966 and was reelected in 1977. There he was elected to put California on the “conservative path”, which he accomplished by cutting back on some of the welfare services to lower income tax.” (Boyarsky 4,9) As he ran for president in 1980 his campaign pledge was to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”(Internet source 1) Ronald Reagan brought a large change to the country and world during his administration by taking care of the economics, reducing government control, and sticking to his Conservative philosophies, as well as helping to bring an end to the Cold War.
The public seemed to like Reagan for his charm. Closely related to the way Franklin D. Roosevelt used his fire-side chats, Reagan, “modernized the chat: in his first few months in office he filmed fifteen-minute and two minute films and handed them out to television stations around the state of California.” (Boyarsky 19) Reagan knew how use media to get his point across, and that is how after losing 5 straight primaries to Ford, he came back with a single television speech that aided him in winning the North Carolina primary. No other president or electee had ever had such an effect as Reagan did using the television.
Reagan’s conservative ideas were seen in his right-wing speeches that he gave about “gradual surrender of freedom of things like farm subsidizing, bureaucratic form-filling, and rural electrification.” He was also attacking the New Deal. (Wills 285) Even as a college kid Reagan loved to give speeches, in which he would always end with a strong morality plea, urging his audience not to drink, smoke or cheat. (Boyarsky 49) In 1980 renewed support for religious and national values as well as strong opposition to high taxes, government controls, and federal spending accounted for the ascendancy of the conservatives within the Republican Party. (Wills 288) This led to the defeat of many liberal senators and representatives in the 1980 national election and the victory of Ronald Reagan.
After being elected in 1980, Reagan’s appointment in 1981 of Sandra Day O’Connor, was a popular vote both for her conservatism and as the first woman justice of the United States. Reagan later appointed William Rehnquist, another conservative justice in the court, as the Chief Justice. With these people in the Supreme Court and congress by his side, Reagan was able to obtain legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and Government expenditures, refusing to deviate from it when the strengthening of defense forces led to a large deficit. (Internet source)
Reagan had to deal with much criticism, however from blacks, women and environmentalists. That blacks believed that many of the president’s policies were discriminating against them, because of the cut back on social programs and because of the raise in unemployment. The women felt that Reagan did not name enough women to important government posts, even though he was the first president to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. Reagan also had to make a big decision concerning abortion. The President had decided that he would sign a bill that only allowed abortions to prevent pregnancies caused by rape, incest, or to prevent a birth that, in the opinion of a panel of physicians, would gravely impair the mental or physical health of the mother. As a Conservative this was a risky move.
As for the economic stance of the country, it was in major turmoil during the end of Carter’s term, it is said that, “Inflation elected Ronald Reagan in 1980″ (Wills 362) In order to fix this, Reagan decided to take out some of the government control. “Hastened depreciation and eased regulation created a wave of new plants capable of cheaper production. “(Wills 365) In February 1981, Reagan proposed an economic plan that combined tax cuts with wide reduction in welfare and unemployment and in many other areas of the budget. During this time he also worked to curb federal agencies that he felt went too far in regulating business. These new economic policies became known to the media as Reagonomics. (Wills 367) The main law in Reagan’s plan called the Economic Recovery Act of 1981 reduced individual and corporation income taxes about $33 billion for the 1982 fiscal year, with more cut scheduled later. (Boyarsky 79) However, in the middle of 1981 thousands of companies went bankrupt and unemployment started to rise. This was the cause of a sharp loss of tax revenue. This combined with the large sum of money that was being spent on defense produced a growing federal budget deficit. The government fixed this by increasing taxes that totaled to be about $91 billion in 1982. (Boyarsky 80) Following that, the economy began to recover rapidly in 1983. Between 1977 and 1988 most individuals in the income categories below the national average saw a slight increase in their tax rates, while most individuals in the upper income categories had their tax rates reduced by a moderate amount. The greatest increase involved a 1.6 percent rate increase for taxpayers among the lowest ten percent of wage earners. (Wills 367) On the other hand, those 1 percent of taxpayers with the nation’s highest incomes saw their rates decrease by 6 percent over the same period.
Reagan’s second administration brought changes to the world. During the mid-1980’s Reagan expanded the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was a controversial research program that was designed to develop a space based missile defense system. It was later named Star Wars by the media. In theory, SDI would permit the United States to intercept enemy missiles before they hit their targets. The USSR objected to the Star Wars program, believing it threatened the security of the USSR. (Wills 365) Reagan had said, “Some say it will bring war to the heavens. But its purpose is to deter war in the heavens and on earth. Now some say the research would be expensive. Perhaps, but it could save millions of lives, indeed, humanity itself.” This issue brought the USSR leader, Mikhail Gorbachev to meet with Ronald Reagan several times. The first meeting that took place in Switzerland in 1985 led to agreements for educational, scientific, and cultural exchanges. The leaders met again in Iceland, in 1986, then once more in 87 (in the United States) in which Reagan and Gorbachev both signed a treaty that called for the destruction of all ground launched U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500km. In 1988 the two met for a final time in the Soviet Union where they agreed upon reducing the number of nuclear missals. (Wills 367)
At the end of his two terms in office, Ronald Reagan viewed with satisfaction the achievements of his innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. Reagan had made the country conservative again and passed the torch onto his vice-president George Bush. The Nation had enjoyed its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression and American felt good and prosperous.