Ronald Wilson Reagan physically died on June 5, 2004, but his legacy has lived on in the psyche of Americans long after his presidency ended, and even after his death. I just got finished reading Rachel Maddow's book, "Drift," and I had to stop reading it to catch my breath at how awful of a President Reagan was and to see with my own eyes how the 80s was the progenitor for all of the insanity I see in my own country. I've never understood this culture's comfortable relationship with violence, mayhem, and militarism. My formative years were the Bush years. Iraq was a debacle. I felt my country had overreacted to 9/11 and was going to unleash death and destruction in the Middle East. People who criticized the war were publicly excoriated as unpatriotic and un-American. No one could effectively find the right words to speak out against military adventure after military adventure, as liberals were painted as weak willed and enemies of soldiers. I can't tell you how many military blogs I've read with abject hate speech towards liberals.
Now I know why. And I also understand more about why Obama is an existential threat to many on the hard right and less moderate Republicans. He signifies to them that Reagan is truly dead and they realize on a subconscious level all that Reagan symbolized will finally be buried. Of course, I don't think that's true, but that's their perception, not mine. You see, after doing some reading on the man, I think Reagan was a psychotic raving lunatic, a doddering old fool, a two legged Drudge report, and above all, the ice pick that lobotomized this nation. This is not hyperbole, Ronald Reagan disgusts me. I finally read in full the welfare queen attack, and I could not believe any human being could be so stupid as to believe Reagan's pandering. Reagan fought against old people getting health care, frothing at the mouth about a communist plot. Reagan got away with gross ignorance of foreign policy using his actor's charm. He literally just made stuff up and sold it, and Americans were willing to gobble up sweet half truths and bald faced lies. In an era of deregulation and flattening wages, Reagan said that it is perfectly fine to tear your neighbor down to make yourself feel better. And above all, as Maddow brilliantly points out, Reagan would never force Americans to question the wisdom of their actions or to look facts straight in the eye. After all, Americans for some reason are hesitant about peace, but sure of themselves about war.
You see, Reagan transformed America into Rome. Compassion is weakness, life is about the naked pursuit of material goods, and a strong army solves all problems domestic and foreign. Plunder what you can and take what you can. You're American, so you operate under a different morality than others. The world is a sea of savage, cunning enemies waiting to pounce. America must remain loyal to itself and resolute, or it will crumble. Americans are imbued with magical powers that make them smarter, faster, and more capable than non-Americans, except those who claim allegiance to us. The American way of life is truly superior, needs no second thought, and our economy can grow infinitely by relying on faith.
You see, Bill Clinton, despite being a Democrat, didn't really deal any sort of blow to the Reagan ideals. He deregulated, put in free trade, busied himself with being a "New Democrat," and was a centrist. But to right wingers, Obama is of a different strain. Obama talks about compassion for your fellow man, for caring about the least of us, for advocating a left wing style of Christianity that does not rely on making enemies out of our fellow Americans just for living a different lifestyle, and for dealing with a world stage where other countries have a right to exist and exert power like anyone else. The President probably prefers clean energy to dirty fossil fuels as a rule and wants a well educated populace with a voice at the workplace. Now, I think Obama is just as culpable for the expansion of the military industrial complex and the savagery against civil liberties and the erasure of checks on executive power that has existed since Reagan, but that's never come up in a non-libertarian/non-green party critique of his presidency. In short though, Obama is everything Reagan was not.
To these people, Obama is there to erase them. He's there to erase their fact free world. With Obama as the authority, then there is no one to sanction tearing down others to make yourself feel better. Ayn Rand's philosophy of makers and takers is replaced with a humanity affirming message of group responsibility. Obama wants America to actually focus on what the Gospel says, not the contorted libertarian right wing business Jesus Right Wingers have created. In short, logic, sanity, compassion, caring, restraint, and prudence will replace arrogance, foolhardiness, insanity, coldness, and viciousness as our values, and they know it. The fact that it's a Black man doing it makes it all the worse. They know that the regressive mindset is on the decline, and this is their last gasp.
Reagan's ghost can finally disappear.