The Real Deal: Why Ronald Regan shouldn’t be the conservative mascot

            Ronald Reagan. He is often hailed as the ideal conservative, a hero who stared down the communists and made America powerful. He campaigned on the principles of small government and fiscal responsibility. Donald Trump even recently cited Reagan as “one of the great presidents.” For the hundredth anniversary of his birth, conservative groups around the country threw parties trying to outdo one another. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is the son of Reagan’s vice president. Despite how long ago he actually held office, Reagan is still relevant in today’s political debate and discussion.

Reagan however is not the ideal conservative in which many portray him as today.

             Reagan was the 40th president of the United States, and is often viewed as the tough guy president. Few people are actually aware of his multiple foreign policy blunders, such as the Iran-Contra Controversy, where he openly defied Congress and broke American law. During the Reagan Administration a deal was organized between the U.S. and Iran, where the U.S. would sell weapons through Israel to Iran in order to guarantee the return of U.S. prisoners being held in Lebanon. The revenue generated from this deal was then sent to fund an anti-communist rebel group in Nicaragua.

            Now at face value, this deal seems like a logical course of action. But upon further examination, ugly truths start to appear. Reagan officials sold weapons to Iran while the international community had them under an embargo, not to mention this was just after the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Furthermore, the rebel groups in which Reagan officials were supporting had committed horrible atrocities. Congress had made further support of the Contra’s illegal, so Reagan decided that he would do it secretly. The Administration created a covert agency called “The Enterprise,” and essentially used private funding and funding from other nations to support a murderous rebel group illegally. Considering conservatives support the ideals of small government and moral values, Reagan should already be disqualified from being the conservative hero.

            This however only covers his foreign blunders, and not the issues he would cause back home. It was the Reagan administration that would push for the deregulation of the financial sector, and this deregulation would eventually lead to the economic crash of 2008. Even now we are still feeling the effect of Reagan’s bad economic policy, which managed to majorly benefit elites while hurting the middle class.  

            Now, Reagan was not a completely bad politician. He supported a women’s right to make her own health decisions, granted amnesty to 3 Million illegal immigrants and let them gain citizenship, and helped establish the Department of Veterans Affairs. All of the good policies that Reagan did enact were liberal in nature. Reagan even sought to close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy. Couple that with the fact that he increased taxes eight times, massively increased government spending, and tripled the national deficit, we can see why conservatives might want to find a new hero.