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K. Lloyd Billingsley - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

K. Lloyd Billingsley is Editorial Director for the Pacific Research Institute and has been widely published on topics including on popular culture, defense policy, education reform, and many other current policy issues. [go to Billingsley index]

Reagan Maximized the Contradictions of Liberalism
Provoking the fury of the Left...
[K. Lloyd Billingsley] 6/10/04

The current outpouring of good will for Ronald Reagan stands in stark contrast to the beating he used to take in the press. The reason for the disparity lies in the way Reagan acquired his political education.

After World War II Reagan was a liberal on a crusade to save the world from “neo-fascism.” At the time, the Communist Party USA was mounting an offensive in the studios. The Party controlled a coalition called the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU) which used jurisdictional disputes to expand power. Since these were not strikes in the strict sense, the actors opted to cross the picket lines. Reagan and many others took the full wrath of the CSU in massive battles outside every studio.

Party front groups were pleased to use Reagan as a speaker until he criticized communism. He then teamed with other actors to expose Stalinists, such as screenwriter John Howard Lawson, the Party’s straw boss in the talent guilds. Reagan was also instrumental in turning Hollywood against CSU boss Herb Sorrell, and the Party never achieved its objectives in the studios. The Hollywood left never forgave him but Reagan, the first union leader to become president, never forgot the experience.

The Soviets knew Reagan meant business when he fired the striking air traffic controllers. This also upset the dictates of American liberalism that for “social justice” to prevail, unions must always get what they want, whatever the harm to the public. Reagan’s rise to the presidency also violated liberals’ rule that they alone are fit to govern, and that a conservative in the nation's highest office constitutes a national emergency.

Reagan did not hesitate to call the Soviet Union an evil empire, a fully accurate description, as First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus observed. The statement sent liberals into fits of rage but made Reagan a hero to millions in Eastern Europe who, unlike American liberals, actually had to live under communism.

Defending the United States from a missile attack, Regan believed, was a better idea than the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. The effort of the Soviet economy to keep up further speeded the collapse of the empire.

After a Marxist coup on Grenada, Regan sent a force to rescue Americans there. The president aided anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua, and let Libya know the consequences of terrorism. All this provoked the fury of American liberals who believe that, since America does not live up to their vision, every time the nation acts in the world it must be illegitimate. Liberals prefer the UN, which when Reagan became president was headed by Kurt Waldheim, a Nazi war criminal.

Liberals also disliked Reagan's concept that workers should keep more of what they earn and that government should live with limitations. For class-war liberals this amounts to an “assault on the poor.”

Though he did not intend to do so, Reagan maximized the contractions of liberalism. As with any president, there are grounds for criticism but as Les McCann said, “compared to what?” Ronald Reagan should not be compared with anybody’s wish-list but instead with other actual presidents.

Those who believe the current praise of Reagan is excessive should read The Real Jimmy Carter by my colleague Steven Hayward, followed by the author’s Age of Reagan. CRO

copyright 2004 Pacific Research Institute




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