Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Commentary: The Myth of Ronald Reagan

Lured the Working Class Into Economic Destruction: Obama Gets It, But the Jilted Middle Class Doesn't

Go to Buzz Flash original
Dateline: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California

Before you open a door and enter into the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a large bronze sculpture of a strapping cowboy greets you, with the wide-eyed optimisim of the mythic west, a handkerchief dangling from the back pocket of a pair of jeans, and cowboy hat in hand.

It's called "After the Ride" and it is a tribute to Ronald Reagan.

Or make that the myth of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, as the fawning exhibition area that paints a flattering, blemish free portrait of his life unintentionally reveals, went from a childhood and small college upbringing in Illinois to a Hollywood "B" film career, to spokesperson for the GE corporation, to Death Valley Days, to the political life that led him to the White House.

The key transition, not noted as such by the library narrative, is when Reagan became the hired front man for GE, hosting a program for them but also going around the country selling the concept that the corporation is a benevolent and positive force in our lives, without any downsides.

Reagan went from a "B" movie career to an "A" career as a political salesman for corporate wealth and control of the government. In the turbulent social climate of the '60s, his wealthy backers (who regarded him as a prize race horse for a right-wing coup for the super rich and corporate welfare) watched as Reagan won the governorship and masterfully was guided in the use of wedge issues such as "Guns and God" to lure the emerging displaced middle class into voting Republican.

Aside from the "October Surprise," when Reagan negotiators allegedly convinced the Iranian mullahs to hold onto our hostages until Reagan's inauguration day (they were literally released after he was sworn in), the GOP had perfected the selling of a myth about America -- and they had the hale and hearty actor to sell the product.

The myth of "morning in America" obscured the emerging theft of jobs from the middle class by creating emotional hot buttons for rural and working class voters to gravitate toward: Their values were under attack by liberal extremists, they were repeatedly told. Only the Republicans could save the nation from further moral degradation, the myth went -- and only the GOP could guarantee victory in foreign conflicts (even if the conflicts were often unnecessary and the GOP failed to achieve "victory," however it might be defined).


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