6.06.2004

Reagan

I might write another post about Ronald Reagan, but here are my initial thoughts on the subject...

I'm the same age as Tacitus, and I have a much different recollection of Reagan and the era in American politics that he is associated with.

I remember as a child, sometime around 1983, helping my mother deliver food and fruit packages to the few local homeless, even though we were barely scraping by economically. I didn't know very much about the homeless situation, only that our President kept referring to the United States as the richest country in the world. And yet, even though I hardly understood the meaning of the word "greed", I knew the wealth of this country was not "trickling" down as many would report on the news or in the newspaper. And it certainly didn't trickle down to the level of the guys who dug around the fast food dumpsters in town.

Around 1986, I began thinking about sex and tried to learn as much as I could about it, including homosexuality. People on television would discuss "the disease", and it even crept into my parent's conversation. I didn't fully understand my parent's conversations, but I had to be mistaken... could they possibly be accusing the POTUS of ignoring a disease that seemed to slowly suck the life out of a person? And then I began to learn about the real disease, homophobia. It was a hard lesson to learn that a fellow human would attempt to ignore the suffering of another based solely on sexual orientation. I may have been eleven years old at the time, but not much older or younger. It was a tough pill to swallow, and it permanently changed my view of the President. And it made me aware of the acute powers that he possessed over the populace.

A human has no excuse to stand idle and watch another human suffer. The President, Ronald Reagan, could stand firm and demanded public awareness and education. How could he not have been more proactive?

And Along Came Ollie. And a President's lack of recollection. And a President's willingness to allow those in his administration to deceive the American public. Again, I was young. I was under the impression that certain men are elected to positions that absolutely demand full truth and accountability. This was before I was required to study the Presidencies of Nixon, Johnson, JFK. I now understand that all men distort the truth, but Reagan set the example for me.

Was Reagan the only possible politician that prevented the Reds from taking over America or, annihlating US with nuclear weapons? Was he personally (and solely) responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall? I didn't think so then, and I don't now. I can't condemn his rhetoric on those subjects, and agree that he may not have been the worst choice for President at the time, but certainly not the only one capable of promoting Democracy and providing security to the US.

As a child, I honestly gave Reagan too much credit for the AIDS epidemic and the poverty that seemed to affect the lives of everybody around me. I see now that he effectively used his rhetoric to redefine the Republican party for a new generation. Aside from that, it seems as though that those around him were the real power players. I once saw him as powerful politician, but now view him as little more than a figurehead. He wasn't a revolutionist, he was a reactionist. And a commentator on world events, who just happened to have an international platform in which to speak.

He's worm food now. He enjoyed the brief stastical anomaly known as life, and now it is gone. Perhaps he isn't a lying sack of shit, just a deceptive bag of (mostly) water. His actions indicate that he had little concern for the spread of AIDS among homosexuals (and other 'amoralists'). Reciprocity was paid lip service, but was not actively promoted by his Administration.

If bipartisan civility wasn't dead when Reagan took office, he certainly allowed it to die on the vine... if not drove the stake through its heart himself. Reagan shattered my view of the American presidency. I will always associate the greed, callousness, and hostility of the 80's with Reagan's rhetoric and ideology, perhaps because he was in office while I grew up and was learning the harder lessons of life. Like many politicans after him, he held the Cross of Jesus in one hand, while shaking Satan's hand with the other. I learned this from my first true President, Mr. Reagan. (I can hardly count Carter because he took office when I was six months old.)

No, Reagan didn't deserve to die of Alzheimer's. It was too easy. He was allowed to forget the depth of the pain of life. No, he deserved to lay in a hospital bed and whither away slowly, aware of what was really happening to his body, with no chance to fight it. Call me cold, call me callous, but I only have as much respect for Reagan's life as he had for the lowliest of gay needle addicts dying of AIDS. That's the most that I can offer to his family and supporters. (And you can take that statement however you like.)

Sure, I am somewhat embarassed to say all of this, because it makes me feel that I am as much of a slimeball as I perceive Reagan to be. But at least I view him as an equal human, one that deserved the best in medical attention. I would always grant that to him, no matter how much I couldn't stand him or others like him. I guess that is what separated humans like him and I...

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