I was 17 years old and too young to vote when Jimmy Carter was elected President of the U.S. Frankly at the time I while I wasn’t too happy with the election results I thought “How bad could it be?” After all he was the President. Well, the answer came pretty quickly from the “Lust in my heart” and “Billy Beer” episodes plus inflation which went from 5.2% when he took office to11.83% when he left in 1981. I actually thought I was doing well in my money market account until I calculated how much inflation had actually eroded what savings I had. It was time for a change.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan took another run at the nomination and easily won the hearts and minds of the faithful. Using wit, humor and a sense of patriotism Reagan beat Carter and started a new era in American politics. From my vantage point as a young conservative college student it was exhilarating.
It was still early in the Reagan administration when I graduated from college and started attending some political conventions. I was astounded at the level of support Reagan had among the college crowd and that translated into unprecedented growth of the College Republicans as well as the creation of another group, Students For America. The inflation of the Carter years worked its way down to the 3% range thanks to the Reagan economic policies. I was proud to be an American and so were most of my friends.
Normally you would think these are all positive things, yet it was rare to read about any of his accomplishments. Why? Because the media coverage during this period had to be some of the worst in our history. Reaganomics as it was labeled was ridiculed and yet the ecomonic boom that ensued was the longest in our history at the time. How about the speech Reagan gave in June 1987 when he said “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” while standing at the Brandenburg gate. More ridicule from the media. Two years later the Berlin Wall came down. They said he was detached and not very bright, but now they have egg on their face as books that have been publsihed recently have shown what a brilliant man he was.
Now that he has passed, even the liberal media is now praising him and even admitting in some instances they were wrong. It is a shame that they couldn’t have done so while he was still alive and give him the honor and respect that they tried to deny him while he was President.
I think I will be reminiscing by watching A Time For Choosing, a video of Reagan’s speech in 1963 for Barry Goldwater and Stand Up Reagan, a humor video of Reagan at his best with a very tearful farewell at the end when Reagan left office in 1989. Finally while driving in my car this week I’ll listen to some of his speeches on my Reagan in Hs Own Voice cd.
I’ll always feel very lucky that I had the chance to hear him speak in person on more than one occasion and I know I owe him a debt of gratitude for what he did for our country.