Born on February 6, 1911, Reagan was an actor and sportsman in his early years before taking the presidential reins from Jimmy Carter in 1980. He won the election by a landslide, winning 44 of the 50 US states.
Many at the time welcomed his fresh approach and move away from Keynesian economic thought. He was seen as a strong leader, which was just what was needed for a country moving on from big and messy issues such as the Vietnam War and Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
The Great Communicator
One of Reagan’s strengths was his speeches. In fact, he was called The Great Communicator. When visiting Australia in 1973, he took the time to address the Institute of Directors.
His most well-known speech was A Time for Choosing, made during the 1964 US presidential election campaign. Reagan delivered the speech to endorse Barry Goldwater, a Republican candidate. Goldwater may have lost the campaign but Reagan’s speech raised $1 million and launched his political career (he started off as Governor of California).
Known for Reaganomics, his special brand of economics, Reagan endorsed side-supply economic policies. Also known as trickle-down policy, this theory focuses on the ways that wealthy spend money. By taking this approach, Reagan cut taxes for America’s wealthiest from 70 per cent to 28 per cent. As a result, the US economy boomed during the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.
Reagan was all about increased trade, lower taxes and the growth of free market activity. Reaganomics wasn’t devised by him though, he was helped by economist and tax guru Arthur Laffer, who was part of Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board. Reagan was no dunce though — he was well-read and learnt a lot about conservatism through the writing of FEE, as have I over the years.
Friends in high places — Thatcher
Reagan was close to another free market advocate of the time — Margaret Thatcher. Media and diplomats called them “political and philosophical soulmates” for their shared views. This involved not just economics but communism and military decision-making. Their relationship helped change the world and united Europe and the US.
From the man himself
He had a good way of summing up the feelings of people and putting it into simple words. Here are a couple of his more memorable quotes.
“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learnt that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”
“No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”.