In a recent article published in The Michigan Daily (Ronald Reagan isn’t worthy of praise, 2/8/2011), it was argued that former President Ronald Reagan was “the most overrated president in the history of our republic.” Though everyone is entitled to an opinion, the claims made to support this point are completely absurd.
The article began with an attack on Reagan’s economic policies, or “Reaganomics” as they were so popularly called. The author made the point that these policies attacked the poor and increased unemployment. Unfortunately for the author, both of these arguments are false. I agree there was a 10.8 percent unemployment rate during Reagan’s tenure, but this was in 1981, the year of Reagan’s inauguration. When Reagan left office the unemployment rate was around 5.5 percent, nearly half of the rate when he took office.
Not only did unemployment drastically decrease under Reagan, the economy experienced significant growth. Between 1983 and 1990, real Gross Domestic Product grew 35.7 percent, and real GDP per person increased an astounding 4.1 percent per person. This growth impacted all Americans under Reagan’s tenure. Both the average and median incomes increased under Reagan, showcasing that his policies did not solely benefit the rich. Though Reagan’s economic policies weren’t perfect, his decrease in unemployment, economic growth and income growth showcase a solid economic policy.
The author also firmly attacked Reagan’s foreign policy. Though I will agree that Reagan made some foreign policy blunders, the author clearly avoided perhaps the largest foreign policy success in history — destroying the Soviet Union without weapons. Is Reagan partially responsible for arming Osama Bin Laden? Yes, but there was more to the story than simply handing over weapons to Bin Laden. The author ignores the fact that Bin Laden was at war with the Soviet Union.
Both the Soviet Union and Bin Laden have demonstrated that they are enemies of democracy. The Soviet Union’s record can make the Al Qaeda of today look peaceful. In fact, the Soviet Union has been accused to killing upwards of 61 million people. Though aiding Bin Laden may have empowered Al Qaeda, bringing down the Soviet Union was of vital importance.
On Feb. 6, I took part in celebrating the 100th birthday of one of the greatest presidents in American history. Though he made some mistakes during his presidency, his massive successes — including enormous economic growth and the removal of the Soviet Union — can’t be emphasized enough. Without Reagan, Americans may still be living in fear of a nuclear war on a daily basis.