Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 11 Reasons Why Ronald Reagan is Un-Electable in 2012

by Nomad

It's easy to like a politician like Ronald Reagan. Especially when you know actually know who he was or what he said. One thing is certain: if Reagan were running for president today, he would be shown the door by the same people who worship him. 

Asking the Reagan Fan

The next time you find yourself cornered by a gaggle of Fox News-loving Right-Wing radicals, you might try this fun exercise. With a rather blankly innocent look on your face (practice beforehand in a mirror)- ask these any one or all of these questions:
 Would you ever vote for a Republican candidate that.. 
  • had been a Socialism-loving Democrat for 13 years before becoming a Republican?
  • had once been a member of a Far Left wing organization that was on an FBI watch list for being Communistic?
  • had been a union leader- for one of the largest unions in the country?
  • later became an FBI informant, secretly reporting on his former friends?
  • became involved with corrupt mob-connected unions?
  • had signed into law a sweeping anti-gun bill for his state?
  •  had signed into the largest single tax increase in the history of any state in the US- $1 billion in one step?
  •  brought both moderates and liberals into his campaign and after victory gave them top jobs in his administration?
  •  had, as governor, signed legislation that established collective bargaining for all the state’s municipal and country employees?
  • had once declared that civil right legislation must be enforced “ at the point of a bayonet if necessary"?
  • supported Affirmative Action?

If, as you'd expect, their faces flush and the veins bulge from their often-overheated foreheads and they rant, hoop and holler. "NO! Of course not."

You can simply say,"Then you mean... you wouldn't have voted for ...Ronald Reagan?"

It’s a cruel sport, as I shall presently explain.

"New Dealer to the Core"

Ronald Reagan’s devotion to the Democratic party was no small thing. It began with his father, Jack Reagan.

When FDR won the election in 1932, Jack, who was an activist for the Democrats was named as the local director of the Works Progress Administration, a federal agency created by Roosevelt to provide work for jobless Americans. (Ronald Reagan’s brother also found work with the WPA.) His father’s politics ran deep too. As one source tell us:
Ronald Reagan remembered his father as being fiercely opposed to racial and religious intolerance. He refused to allow his children to see the film Birth of a Nation, because it glorified the Ku Klux Klan.
Like his father, young Ronald Reagan was a New Deal Democrat and voted for Roosevelt in every election. He even said of himself that he was a “New Dealer to the core.” Biographers tell us what Reagan’s opinion of the role of government during his formative years.
He summarized his views in this way: “I thought government could solve all our postwar problems just as it had ended the Depression and won the war. I didn’t trust big business. I thought government, not private companies, should own our big public utilities; if there wasn’t enough housing to shelter the American people, I thought government should build it; if we needed better medical care, the answer was socialized medicine.”
All that changed much later Reagan’s life. In 1962, Reagan switched parties, under the influence of GE executive Lemuel Boulware, who would become Reagan's political and ideological mentor. Between the years 1954 and 1962, Reagan was groomed in both business and politics by Boulware, converting this New-Deal Democrat to the neo-conservative trickle-down economy Republican; the one all of us are familiar with today.

Reagan: Union Rep

In 1934, Eddie Cantor, the second President of the Guild, stated: "The New Deal is responsible for the organization of the Screen Actors Guild. He said SAG would "work sympathetically with every organization striving to attain the general betterment of working conditions through the entire field of motion picture activity." Arriving in Hollywood in 1937, the young Reagan was a politically involved New Deal supporter and quickly became a well-respected member of the actor’s guild.

Ronald Reagan's involvement in the Screen Actors Guild came at a highly tumultuous time in its history. From August 11 1941, when he attended his first Board meeting, Reagan, along with his then-wife Jane Wyman became a respected member of the organization and was eventually elected its president in 1947.

He would go on to serve a total of seven presidential terms, including six one-year terms elected by the membership in November 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1959. The era was highly charged; repeated strikes of its members (1952-53, 1955, and 1960), the end of the "studio system",” the blacklisting of actors considered to have Communist leanings, and the decline in Hollywood film production in the wake of the new medium, television.

In each of these, Ronald Reagan played a unique role. By that time, television had wiped out much of the audience for theater films, Reagan already found a steady gig on television, hosting (and sometimes starring in) the General Electric Theater.

Member of a Leftist Organization

Young Reagan: Liberal Democrat
Of Ronald Reagan, George Christopher, former mayor of San Francisco and Republican contender for the party’s nomination for governor, once said, "You find a man in Communist-front organizations, and then he's with the right wing, and then he's in the middle- well, he's awful flexible."

A claim like that, certainly deserves a closer look. (To my amazement I learned it really wasn’t an exaggeration.)

The Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Science and Professions (HICCASP), founded in 1938, was originally known as the Hollywood Democratic Committee (HDC) and by 1944, could boast over a thousand members. It became the leading progressive organization in Southern California in the postwar years. By 1945, film industry membership stood at nearly 3,000, and monthly contributions averaged a phenomenal $13,000.

Though the group's president, George Pepper, was a Communist, HICCASP was truly a Popular Front alliance of liberals and radicals, and many key leadership positions were held by liberals like Gene Kelly, Olivia De Havilland, Emmet Lavery, Edward G. Robinson, and Orson Welles. In the book, Ronald Reagan's journey: Democrat to Republican, Edward M. Yager gives us this snapshot of the group:
Although Reagan had been a member of HICCASP since 1944, he was not aware of Communist activity within the organization until he became a member of its board of directors in Jun 1946. With prominent members drawn from a variety of professions, including actress Olivia de Havilland, scientist Linus Pauling and James Roosevelt (eldest son of the late president) HICCASP promoted a liberal agenda.... Lou Cannon has described HICCASP as a "broad coalition of leftist and liberals supporting Franklin's Roosevelt's fourth term candidacy in 1944 that ended as a narrow Communist-controlled group that became the forerunner of the Independent Progressive Party and nominated Henry Wallace for president in 1948."
In September 1947, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA) chaired by US Rep J Parnell Thomas subpoenaed 43 witnesses to appear in Washington, D.C. to answer questions about Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry. When Reagan was called to testify before the hearings, he was somewhat deceptive about his own involvement.

Admittedly, by 1947, Reagan and others had already quit HICCASP when its member refused to pass a motion condemning both fascism and Communism equally.

Privately however, Reagan said with respect to the HUAC hearings, that he "regretted the whole affair," and he thought it would be next to impossible to clean out the Communists, unless there were clear guidelines provided by Congress, which would include outlawing the Communist Party as "a foreign-inspired conspiracy."

(At least that's a sensible approach, in its Reagan way. )
Despite those private statements, this would be the start of his long public anti-Communist crusade.

FBI Informant: Code Name T-10

When Reagan later became president, it was revealed that earlier in Reagan’s career (in 1948, not long after he had testified in Congressional hearings) he had been become one of about 18 informants for the FBI. His mission was to help them keep tabs on the alleged infiltration of Communists in Hollywood.
The FBI documents, obtained by the Mercury News in a freedom- of-information request, show that Reagan — identified as “T-10″ — kept agents informed about pro-Communist influences in the Screen Actors Guild and other Hollywood organizations.

The reports show that he and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, provided the FBI with the names of actors whom they believed were members of a clique with a pro-Communist line.
Reagan apparently felt some ethical qualms about effectively “ratting out” his fellow actors. Given the fact that he was the president of the union who was supposed to be protecting its members, it is understandable. A lot of careers were destroyed by the blacklisting.
The documents also reveal that Reagan, who was then president of the guild, disagreed with the tactics of the House Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC) in attempting to rid the movie industry of Communists. In one interview with the FBI, the documents show, Reagan criticized the attempts of a committee of producers and actors to fire Communists from film work.
Altogether it's not what one might call a promising start for a political career. Reagan, however was nothing if not resourceful.

Gun Control Law

On July 28, 1967, Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law the Mulford Gun Control Act, the first such move toward firearms control the State of California has ever seen to abridge the rights of citizens under the Second Amendment . According to the book Guns in American Society, by Gregg Lee Carter:
As governor, Reagan supported some major gun control legislation. The most significant measure was the 1967 Mulford Act which forbade firearms in public or in vehicles in public places. The act was the most restrictive gun control measure in California history and was passed in response to increasing violence and public fear of organized militant groups. Critics of the measured accused Reagan and the legislation of overreacting to the political activism of organizations such as the Black Panthers.
With the National Rifle Association applying the right to bear arms as the gospel, the bill today would never see the light of day. The Mulford Gun Law provided a penalty of one year's imprisonment or a $1,000 fine for anyone found with a loaded gun in his possession on any public street or highway unless he can prove he was in imminent danger of harm.
As one critic said of the provisions: The unarmed citizen will now say, "Wait there, will you buddy?" run into the nearest gun shop, if he can find one, and come out shooting . It's right out of Looney Toons . You can hold the bullets in one pocket and the unloaded gun in the other, that's all .
According to one source, the first person to feel the pinch of the gun law was not a criminal, but a conservative on his way to work. He was driving through a high-crime area on the outskirts of Watts, scene of the mammoth 1964 race riot, at 4:00 AM on the way to work . On his seat, a loaded .38 revolver . A Los Angeles police man stopped him for speeding, spotted the gun, and wrote him up.
No doubt, another happy Reagan voter.

Governor Reagan's Liberal Appointments

In 1966, when Ronald Reagan was running for Governor of California -his first elective office- he campaigned as a conservative with speeches attacking on big government, the misuse of power and over-taxation, and promises of sweeping reform. (All of the things we keep hearing about from conservative Republicans today.) 

But after when the election, many of his conservative supporters were in for a shock. One week after his victory, he announced that he would be appointing Democrats to key cabinet position as well as Republicans. Rather than party or philosophy Reagan proclaimed, "Professionalism is the test."
His conservative critics understandably felt betrayed. It was as though his announcement signified that he wasn’t going to be tied down by the conservative wing of the Republican party, despite the fact, he had appealed to that particular group during the campaign. And, as they soon found out, Reagan’s administration as governor would be home to few conservatives at all.
But the stark absence of people representing the philosophy Reagan was still propounding in loud tones from the podium suggested an appointment ratio of roughly 95-to-5% liberal to conservative . To hear Reagan, you would swear it was the other way around . But to the pros, Reagan's pattern of assignments was fairly clear : he was filling jobs in a spectrum ranging all the way from the Republican middle to the Democratic far left .
One can imagine that pitiful distress of the Republican conservatives, feeling duped by Reagan. One of the gubernatorial opponents and a member of the John Birch Society, William Penn Patrick, stated the case against Reagan’s appointments:
"The Reagan appointments have served to tell Republicans that they haven't got qualified people in their Party to match those of the Party just defeated . It's like the U.S. losing in a war and building the enemy nation up beyond its wildest dreams. No wonder the Democrats are silent, they are doing very well in the Reagan Party. Doesn't the GOP have any competent attorneys to serve as judges: Do we find our Party short of capable administrators, so much so that the other Party must bail our Governor out of his personnel problems? Who's he trying to impress? Is he trying to passivate this State long enough to get elected President, then will let the chips fall where they may?"

Reagan's Tax Increases

"We are going to squeeze and cut and trim until we reduce the cost of government. It won't be easy nor will it be pleasant, and it will involve every, department of government, starting with the Governor's office." -Governor Ronald Reagan Inaugural Address January 5, 1967
This kind of talk is much closer to the idealized (and idolized) image of Reagan that Republican party candidates like to promote. However, not long after Reagan took over as governor, he- like President Obama- was faced with the large budget deficit left to him by his predecessor, Pat Brown, and his proposed solution was exactly the same.

Despite his statements in his inaugural speech, Reagan soon realized that no amount of cutting alone would have sufficed. As one source tells us:
Although a conservative, dedicated to shrinking government, Reagan nevertheless found the magnitude of spending cuts that would have been necessary in 1967 to be beyond reach. This led him to endorse a $1 billion per year tax increase, equivalent to a $17 billion tax increase today – an enormous sum equal to a third of state revenues at that time. Journalist Lou Cannon recounts the circumstances:
“No amount of budget reductions, even if they had been politically palatable, could have balanced California’s budget in 1967. The cornerstone of Governor Reagan’s economic program was not the ballyhooed budget reductions but a sweeping tax package four times larger than the previous record California tax increase obtained by Governor Brown in 1959. Reagan’s proposal had the distinction of being the largest tax hike ever proposed by any governor in the history of the United States.
And three years later, Reagan again proposed a further tax hike.
In 1970, Reagan proposed yet another big tax increase of $1.1 billion, which would have been used to finance property tax relief.
Of course, in his memoirs, Reagan tended to ignore this part of his own history; only to say that his policies gave $5 billion back to tax payers. Nevertheless, Reagan’s governorship of California saw an unprecedented expansion of taxes in its history.

Reagan's Mafia Connections

Reagan’s ties to organized crime is a part of his history that most Republicans would prefer to ignore.

His relationship with a Hollywood based entertainment conglomerate named Music Corporation of America (MCA), Lew Wasserman, its president and the Mob are complex but extremely interesting. According to Dan E. Moldea’s detailed book, Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob:
Everyone involved has greatly profited from this relationship. MCA helped to make its client, actor Ronald Reagan, a multimillionaire; and the favors that were returned by Reagan, the former president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the former governor of California, have helped to transform MCA into a billion-dollar empire and the most powerful force in the entertainment world today.
Reportedly, MCA opened the doors for organized crime.
The rise of MCA and its move to Hollywood paralleled the rise of the Chicago Mafia and its infiltration of the motion picture industry. While MCA was representing some of the top motion picture stars, Chicago mobsters took control of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the major Hollywood labor union--through Willie Bioff, a small-time hood, who was supervised by Chicago mob lieutenant Johnny Rosselli. The studios made payoffs to the underworld for labor peace--and to keep their workers' wages and benefits to a minimum.
The complicated and probably illicit arrangement that Reagan had with MCA threatened to destroy his career in 1962 when the Justice Department filed a federal anti-trust suit against MCA and charged the Screen Actor’s Guild (of which Reagan had presided) as a co-conspirator.
A Justice Department memo states, "Ronald Reagan is a complete slave of MCA who would do their bidding on anything."
Reagan’s ties to organized crime do not stop there, in fact and continued to some extent right up until his presidency. As reported by one source, In 1980 Reagan developed a close political relationship with a long time international Teamsters union organizer, Jackie Presser. (Additionally, like Reagan, Presser had also been an FBI informant concerning mafia influence in the Teamsters union from 1972 until his death)

Presser had ties to organized crime, and became president of the Teamsters based on the approval of the Chicago mafia and support of the Cleveland mafia.
According to the book Contract on America: the Mafia murder of President John F. Kennedy, by David E. Scheim:
Reagan launched his fall 1980 campaign with a speech to the Teamster in Ohio, where he also privately met with Presser, Presser's father and then-Teamster President Roy Williams. William was later described in a Senate report as "an organized crime mole operating at senior level of the Teamsters Union" The day before this meeting with Reagan, William had taken the Fifth Amendment repeatedly about his Mob involvements. And when Reagan visited Washington after winning the election, one of his first stops was Teamster headquarters, where he met in a closed door session with Presser, Williams and other board members.
Reagan named Presser as a labor adviser to his transition team right after the 1980 presidential election.
It has been assumed that this appointment was in exchange for a Teamster endorsement during Reagan’s run for the White House.

It would make sense. That endorsement created a furor within the American labor movement. The Teamster pension funds which Presser controlled, in turn, provided the cash for loans to the DeCavalcante crime family of New Jersey and the Patriarca crime family of Boston.

When the media got wise, (to use a bit of the lingo) Presser’s organized crime affiliations threatened to derail the Reagan presidency nearly from its inception.
Democrats and leaders of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a Teamster reform group, demanded that Reagan remove Presser from the transition team. But Reagan aides said that the transition team had completed its task and the issue was now moot.

Flip-flopping on Civil Rights

How Reagan stood on Civil Rights is hard to determine. Like Romney and Gingrich, his positions appear to have changed according to the day to day events. On October 20, 1965, he told the Los Angeles Times,
“I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at the point of a bayonet, if necessary."
But then, over a year later on June 17, 1966, he would say (to the same newspaper):
“I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
After all, today's politicians didn't invent flip-flopping.

Reagan's Support for Collective Bargaining and Affirmative Action

Here’s a shock for Reagan-adoring Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who recently said, “Our most powerful tool is the truth.” I happen to agree with that statement but Walker might have problems with this truth.

In 1968, then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, establishing collective bargaining for California's municipal and county employees. The purpose of the legislation was
  • to promote full communication between public employers and their employees by providing a reasonable method of resolving disputes regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment between public employers and public employee organizations. 
  • to promote the improvement of personnel management and employer-employee relations within the various public agencies in the State of California by providing a uniform basis for recognizing the right of public employees to join organizations of their own choice and be represented by those organizations in their employment relationships with public agencies.
Similarly, Mitt Romney, who likes to channel Reagan from time to to time, made his position clear (at least, until he changes his mind) about Affirmative Action. Romney said:
I believe our nation is at its best when people are evaluated as individuals. I do support encouraging inclusiveness and diversity, and I encourage the disclosure of the numbers of women and minorities in top positions of companies and government -- not to impose a quota, but to shine light on the situation. We should always strive for the broadest representation of people, from all walks of life, at all levels of our companies, schools, and government.
Compare that to what the Great Communicator communicated. In 1971, Gov. Ronald Reagan issued an executive order stating that
"justice demands that every citizen consciously adopt and accentuate a personal commitment to affirmative action which will make equal opportunity a reality."

It's More than History

This is more than just a history lesson about an over-publicized, and largely mythic president.

Firstly, what we are witnessing in the Republican party, the scrambling and the fitful agonizing over who is best fit to represent the party in 2012, all this turmoil is a result of believing in lies.

The Conservative Republican Party has for years promoted the myth of Reagan and now they are forced to accept the consequences of making up stories. None of their candidates can live up to these false standards and in fact, can barely measure up to the true Reagan history.

Reagan’s background is, perhaps, slightly more suspicious than many political figures like the oversexed Kennedy and Clinton. But that’s debatable.
My point is, as the title of this post suggests, something more important.

As we have seen, Conservatives are denying some fairly obvious human truths: people develop and grow and can view things differently over time. Very few people emerge from the cradle as a fully formed adult. The act of living changes people.

Isn't that common sense, common knowledge? So why would the Far Right have a problem with acknowledging the fact that Reagan was once a radical liberal? Reagan didn't make much of an attempt to deny it and in fact, used this transformation to his advantage when discussing ideas with his opponents and voters. “I used to be just as much of a bleeding liberal as you, but then..”
It made Reagan a much more persuasive debater.

But the ideologues of the Far Right would very much prefer to forget, ignore and hide the Reagan history. Why? Whether you agreed with the man or not, there's nothing particularly dreadful in his past. The truth that none of the GOP candidates- and most of the die-hard Republican voters- are prepared to admit is quite simple.

The Republican party, under the control of the fanatical minorities and fringe elements, has become so radicalized and intolerant that even the man whom they regard as the founder of their conservative movement would be far too moderate to satisfy them.

Reagan, in short, wouldn't have a chance in 2012. Without question, he would have been looked upon with suspicion. If Reagan could be returned to the living he might not even qualify as a Fox News political analyst.
And as we have seen, they’ll take nearly anybody.

I welcome any comments or questions so don't hesitate to drop me a line to let me know what you thought.