A commenter suggests that Reagan was popular because he was likable. Sure, that’s part of it, but I beg to differ. The comment also exemplifies the basic retardation of US politics.
Tulio: I was pretty young during the Reagan era, this was elementary school for me. I remember liking Reagan as a kid. I didn’t know anything about politics or even care. As a kid though, Reagan just seemed like a likable guy down the street. He just gave off this aura of optimism and charm, and something about him gave me confidence in his leadership.
This is my feeling looking back through the eyes of a 9 year old who didn’t know much about politics. I think though his popularity had much to do with these things. Win people over at the heart, and they’ll follow you to Hell and back like the pied piper.
There was something about the guy that made him hard to hate, even now when I know about the Contras and all that shit. I can’t bring myself to hate the man. I wouldn’t vote for him and don’t retrospectively endorse him, but I just don’t hate him either.
Sure, he was Mr. Optimist, and Carter was Mr. Gloom and Doom. But we on the Left were not fooled. We hated him from Day One; in fact, we hated the guy before he even got elected. We knew this jerk very well.
The ruling classes picked this Smiley Face Mr. Popular in order to push their Class War project under the guise of populism. During the Reagan years, the top 20% gained money, while the entire 80% of the population lost money. That was the intention from Day One.
Most of those 80% lined up and voted for him again. Many still swear he’s their hero, this guy who deliberately cleaned out their bank account while smiling and patting them on the back and telling them how he was their best friend.
Of course he was likable, but it went well beyond that. The Whites voted for him; the Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews voted against him every single time. If he were merely likable, everyone would have voted for him. It’s an interesting argument, but in the end, I don’t really buy it. Hell, Obama’s likable.
Instead, Reagan was all about giving US Whites the reactionary stuff that they wanted.
It was uncool to be anti-Reagan in California in that era. Even the anti-Reagan Whites were quiet about it, as if they were ashamed. Plus you were constantly meeting Reaganites everywhere you went in White California. It seemed like 2 out of 3 new people you met were Reaganites. And we are talking rockers, hipsters, dopers, drug dealers, etc. – you know, the sort of lowlifes I normally associate with. One thing in common was everyone was White.
I remember in the 1980’s, I was into the Goth scene. Before that, the punk scene. The Orange County punks all voted for Reagan. The Orange County Goths all voted for Reagan.
The punks drank, smoked, took dope, screwed like crazy, and were generally antisocial societal rejects. Reagan would have put them all in jail if he could have.
Then on to the Goth scene. It seemed like everyone I met on the Goth scene voted for Reagan. These were crazy people who wore all Black and made their faces White like dead people. They took all drugs, especially pot, speed, and acid. I don’t think I ever met one that hadn’t shot speed.
They drank like fish and chain-smoked. The chicks seemed like they were all bisexual. Most of the guys acted like queers, and I think a lot of them were bi too. The whole scene was about as anti-Reagan’s Family Values shit as you can get. Yet it seemed like they voted for Reagan to a man and woman. I forgot to tell you, everyone was White.
As soon as you went into White areas of California in those days, you would start seeing “Reagan Country” signs everywhere.
Someone on Democratic Underground a while back said all US politics has been about race since 1850 or so. That’s a sweeping statement, but I wonder how much of it is true.
PS. Those of us on the Left hate his guts. He’s the bastard that started the ruination of America, ongoing now in 2010.