Reagan and “Ideals”? Guest Post
“The Chicago Tribune ran a column today by an academic, Charles Madigan, talking about the possible political realignment if Obama wins. What got my goat was the way he described the Reagan years as “defined by ideals” and mentioned the social issues. On abortion and gay rights, it is arguable that the Reagan revolution failed, except for using those issues as political wedge issues.
He never mentioned the important stuff.
For me, the Reagan era was defined by an attack on unions that weakened the middle class’ ability to defend itself economically (remember the air traffic controllers); attacks on public education that lead to vouchers, charter schools and standardized tests instead of a serious attempt to reform public schools and get at the real problems that can be traced to economic and social disparities; and attacks on government as the problem, which led to deregulation and laissez-faire economics that resulted in the current financial crisis, the growing gap between rich and poor and the pathetic response to Katrina.
It was also the era of failed trickle down supply side economics, tax cuts for the rich (voodoo economic again) and a military buildup based on credit from our major competitors. Oh, and don’t forget free trade. In essence, it was the GOP’s long awaited attempt to dismantle the New Deal, and it ended up creating the conditions for another depression.”