Re: Consortiumnews.com, By Robert Parry, March 18, 2010
The American political establishment and the major U.S. news media are planning a gala centennial bash in honor of the late President Ronald Reagan. But Consortiumnews.com will try to tell the truth.
If we can survive financially into next year – to the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth – we will surely be a lonely voice describing Reagan’s presidency as it was, not in the happy-talk version now in vogue.
In our view, the Reagan era took the United States down a very dark road, a route that in three decades has left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead in places from Central America to Africa to the Middle East.
Along that grim highway, the Reagan administration also left the remains of battered American democratic institutions, including effective labor unions, an independent press corps and a vibrant middle class.
Ronald Reagan lured millions of rank-and-file Americans down that path by promising that an unregulated corporate America would be their best friend, that government was the enemy, that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down.
The war on the middle class started with Reagan. The war on the poor whom Reagan called “welfare bums” began. Before Reagan, leaders understood that taking care of our social needs was not only the moral right, but it was also good for the economy. Reagan policies killed all that and pushed back on the upward struggles of the poor, as if the rise from poverty wasn’t hard enough.
His efforts to cheapen labor through union busting and stagnating wages, combined with less support for the newly poor by changing the rules for welfare and food stamps, were enough to tarnish his legacy, never mind the military and financial support of right-wing militia death squads in Central and South America.
Never mind his war on the environment, his war on good governance, and his war on public protections from ruthless corporations, but concentrating on what he did to the middle class’ struggle to overcome poverty and rise into affluence is enough to strangle and cut off any cheers for the late president. He left a legacy of shameful greed that still echoes through media outlets today.
There are some striking similarities to the right wing hate-filled rhetoric surrounding the health care debate and the fear mongering propaganda from the right over Medicare in the early 1960’s. From wiki:
Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, although he later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. He strongly denied having racist motives. When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, “we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”
Reagan’s talk of socialism and “the end of freedom in America” could have come from the mouth of Sarah Palin and a plethora of other Republican leaders and throngs of social misfits, tea baggers and such who use socialism as a wedge issue and a red herring, hiding their support for the insurance industry. Almost 50 years have passed since Reagan issued this recording and even the most ardent anti-government right winger has to admit that Ronald Reagan could not have been more wrong about Medicare.
The dire warnings of a future that has us all living in a socialist nightmare never came to pass, and it won’t. Medicare became a much beloved entitlement and a political third rail. Medicare was, and continues to be, vastly successful. But, since the lesson of Medicare is so apparent, why are there new protests and cries from angry voices railing against what history has shown to be benign social imperatives of health care reform? The socialist nightmare that Reagan warned of never materialized, and it won’t. The tea party people should wake up and take a lesson on being on the wrong side from the original tea bagger, Ronald Reagan.
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