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Reagan's Reelection Revisited

ReganMidterm Elections 2010: Time of Reckoning, Not Mourning
 
With less than a month left, it’s beginning to look as this midterm election will have less to do with which of the two parties is at fault for the state of the nation, or which party offers a better plan to come out of this economic mess… and everything to do with just one thing: voters’ anger.  And that never augurs well for those who presently hold the country’s political power, no matter the length of time they’ve been holding the reins.

And as the campaign enters its last leg, it was bound to happen!  A group of grass-roots conservatives has reenacted the classic television ad which helped Ronald Reagan get reelected in1984: “Morning in America.” By adding a vowel (u) to that title, “Mourning in America,” this group, Citizens for the Republic hopes to conjure a mirror-image of this nation which will aid Republicans capture majorities in both houses of Congress.
 
It all started less than a generation ago as Americans in their political un-wisdom decided to cast Ronald Reagan in his greatest acting role: that of president of the United States; a pivotal moment that would change the social and economic status of most Americans… for the worse.
 
That was the beginning of a period, the Reagan era, in which “Greed is good” became de facto the banner for America (1980s); a period of idolatry for the capitalist ethic and reckless uber-patriotism, something which continued on with two Republican father-son presidents, the Bushes; and a Republican-lite make-believe Democrat, Bill Clinton. Now we scratch our heads and ask each other, incredulously, just where we went wrong!
 
As the country underwent a slow, painful recuperation from one of those recurring and necessary – we are told – capitalist recessions (1980-1982), Reagan’s first term was about to expire.  And it was during the 1984 presidential campaign that the president’s political marketers came up with a television commercial gem that won accolades in advertising and political circles: a true classic that we refer to as “Morning in America.” [Its original title: “Prouder, Stronger, Better.”]
 
Morning in America… I still remember the soothing voice of the narrator – and creator – Hal Riney saying, “it’s morning again in America.  Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history.  With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years.  This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future.  It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better.  Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”  That message calmly delivered, while images of Americans merrily going to work were seen on the television screen.
 
In contrast, the message in 2010 is pessimistic and derogatory as the narrator states, “There is mourning in America.  Under the leadership of President Obama, our country is fading and weaker and worse off.  His policies were a grand experiment, policies that failed.  This November, let’s choose a smaller, more caring government, one that remembers us.”  And, of course, the blame is quantified by the number of men and women without the opportunity to go to work (15 million); or foreclosures by nightfall (2,900 a day), or the burden placed on children born and their share of the big runaway national debt ($30,000 each).
 
Morning in America was a façade that in 1984 represented sunny unrealities of America taking credit and pride where not necessarily due, such as victory in the 1984 Olympics, where major competition was absent – Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba – or for the Soviet Union starting to crumble.  It was the start of a material culture being thrust upon us with economic lies and masked deceit.  Even Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” song was clamored by the Conservative Right in exalted star-spangled imagery, while anti-war and social criticism lyrics of what was happening in the nation were bypassed.  It’s the chorus that counts… Born in the USA!  And, with that poisoned mentality, much of America accepted Reagan, Reaganomics and the economic spoliation by the rich.     
 
Nothing like turning the tables, do some political prestidigitation – lying by not stating the entire truth – so that Reagan is remembered as a hero, while Obama becomes the goat du jour.  But the truth, the real truth as to where we are, and how we came to be here is one that should make Ronald Reagan a villain – to 80 percent of the population, not the elite or sub-elite – and reserve judgment on a yet unproven quantity: our president and promiser of change, Barack Obama.
 
Today is not so much a day of mourning, but rather a day of reckoning… acknowledging how the ideological Extreme Right has been instrumental in destroying the American way of life, which at one time – prior to Reagan’s implementation of voodoo economics, and the unchecked globalization which was beginning to take place – had been for the most part a reality… and not just a dream.
 
© 2010 Ben Tanosborn


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