Ronald Reagan

By Andrew Almeter


Ronald Reagan was born to parents Jack and Nelle Reagan in Tampico, Illinois on Feb. 9, 1911. Jack never held a job for a particularly long time, so their family moved around quite often before they finally settled down in the town of Dixon, Illinois. As he was growing up, Reagan worked as a lifeguard at the Dixon pool and at school he was on every sports team and club imaginable: swim team coach, track team, defensive lineman on the football team, student council, and was even the drum major in the Dixon Boy's Band. When he graduated from Dixon High, he attended Eureka College in Illinois-- when he said that he couldn't afford the tuition, the college cut his rate in half... to $90 (equivalent to ~$2,250). Reagan's first 'taste' of politics came in the form of a strike on campus. Due to the Depression, some of the teaching staff was facing layoffs while money was needlessly allocated elsewhere in the school. When Ronald gave a speech before his fellow students, he discovered his love of the thrill of speaking before crowds. This would influence the rest of his life, because he had wanted to be a sports announcer for a while at that point, and he was now considering acting.
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Iowa and California

After he had graduated from Eureka College and the Depression had ended, Reagan decided to pursue sports announcing, and became quite well known in the Midwest by his childhood nickname, "Dutch" Reagan. In one game game of football he was casting, Reagan lost his feed (he was in the radio station, miles away from the actual game) and completely made up the rest of the quarter, adding his own flair since he didn't want his listeners to change channels. He humorously recounted that when the feed came back, he had learned that the play had resulted in a fumble and a turnover, but many people still informed him when they met him that they liked his version of the game better. When he was given a winter vacation with all expenses paid to California, Reagan fell in love with the state and would eventually move there to begin his acting career in earnest. After some slight change in wardrobe and name-- now Ronald-- he signed with Warner Bros. after scouts saw lots of potential in him. After starring in several movies, especially westerns (they were his favorites), he was drafted during WW2. Due to his bad eyesight and experience in film, he was assigned to the Air Force Intelligence Crew, whose task was to film briefing missions and things on the home front to serve as visual aids and propaganda for the war effort. During his service, he developed a disdain for bureaucracy and its inefficiency, which would contribute to his political platform later in life.

Early Political Career

Though he was a part of the Democratic party and was a "New Dealer to the core," Reagan began to support Republican candidates, including Eisenhower and Nixon. During his time in a GE show, he began to appreciate and share more conservative ideas about government, believing that a smaller government was more efficient and ultimately better than a larger bureaucracy. He later formally switched to the Republican Party, as the Democratic Party had been fighting among itself in California for some time. After giving his "A Time for Choosing" speech (see below) in presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's campaign, he announced his candidacy for Governor of California and won.

Excerpt from "Challenger"

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA, or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day three hundred and ninety years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today, we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

Thank you.

"There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect."

Ronald Reagan Schools Moderator When Questioned About His Age - Funny!

Reagan in Retrospect

If I had Reagan's skill?

Reagan was through and through a very charismatic and likable man, remembered not only for his statecraft and prowess in dealing with foreign affairs, but his witty one-liners. If I could be as comfortable in front of large crowds and so genuinely likable as he was, I would probably follow his lead and become a politician. Reagan had a large presence and exuded a certain quality of character so outwardly that he easily became a celebrity, but I feel like my lack of these traits would suit me better to focus on smaller local/state politics.

Reagan as an Anti-Federalist?

Reagan's policies and general view of how government should be structured was most in line with Anti-Federalists before the writing of the Constitution. Though this is somewhat of a stretch, he did mostly believe that the federal government should be as small as possible which leads to the general assumption that he supported states' rights and local government because they would be more efficient in dealing with the immediate needs of their citizens. This is not meant to say that Reagan actively opposed the Constitution, but instead underscore his disdain for bureaucracy and any government that tries to "protect its citizens from themselves."
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In his article, "How Do Historians Assess Ronald Reagan?", Chester Pach tests the waters on how historians rate the presidency of Ronald Reagan. The general consensus about the 40th president is that he had a tendency to be contradictory in his actions, and was really only an average president. Pach says that though historians tend to view Reagan as a gauche diplomat, he was noteworthy because of his genuine personality, amiability, and utter conviction- all of which contributed to his superior leadership skills.

2016 Slogan: Restoring the American Dream

Reagan's platform would probably include in some large part the reduction of unemployment and inflation, both of which he addressed in his first two terms.
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Some Noteworthy Talking Points

  • Reagan's thoughts on Jane Wyman - 1st wife
  • "The Gipper"
  • Iran-Contra
  • Personality

Works Cited A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

-"How Do Historians Assess Ronald Reagan?" History News Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

-Reagan, Ronald. An American Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990. Print.

-"Ronald Reagan." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

-"A TIME FOR CHOOSING (The Speech – October 27, 1964)." A TIME FOR CHOOSING (The Speech – October 27, 1964). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.