Political operatives in the Bush administration may resort to a favorite tool, popularity polls, in an attempt to deify Reagan
When his term on planet Earth expires, ailing ex-president Ronald Reagan, 93, will likely be hailed by followers as some kind of revolutionary who forever changed the face of American politics. In the 1980s, Reagan's divisive economic policies widened the gap between the rich and poor as never before by allowing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while calling for a removal of many government-funded programs that assisted the less fortunate.
Voters had feared Reagan's extreme politics, but cast ballots for the Republican candidate in 1980, as popular opinion dictated it was time for a change. In the presidential debates that year, Reagan blamed Democratic President Jimmy Carter for the nation's inflation and unemployment crises. So much for change, as unemployment in the U.S. remained at double-digits for longer than half of Reagan's first term, and economic woes plagued the nation well into the next decade.
Political operatives in the Bush administration may resort to a favorite tool, popularity polls, in an attempt to deify Reagan. Such efforts may be made easier by the increasingly right-leaning American media at their disposal. By casting a favorable spotlight upon Reagan's policies and presidency, Bush's team may seize the opportunity to numb voters' minds into forgetting about current worries and voting for continuity over change in the upcoming 2004 presidential election.
After Reagan left office in 1989, survey after painstaking survey rated his presidency as the most inconsequential in modern American history. In spite of this, another survey showed Reagan would have won a third presidential term if he were able to run. After eight stagnant years marked by starved-out social programs coupled with unprecedented government rollbacks, the majority of American voters at that time had become satisfied living under a government striving to offer as little service as possible.
President Bush and his political machines know they are serving in Reagan's shadows, and seem keenly aware of how much may be gained from celebrating whatever legacy the '80s president left behind. In the unlikely event that the former president survives beyond the Bush administration, Reagan's place in history will likely be minimized. But should Reagan pass away under Bush's clock, the minds of Americans may be made susceptible to manipulation as never before.
In large part, polls projected by various media are responsible for public perception of popularity. Rather than serving as sources of information, polls are arbitrarily controlled to create general opinions based on partisan beliefs, so that voters are herded to the polls in support of the party in power.
Voters are too easily led by these power-driven tactics. As a result, so many Americans have been conditioned to believe the current party in power is most fit to serve the masses. Polls are designed to keep power in the hands of those who already have it.
One of Ronald Reagan's biggest failures, the national debt, directly had resulted from his pandering to the powerful through a series of reckless tax break giveaways to the super-rich in America.
From the country's inception in the year 1776 up to the beginning of Reagan's presidency in 1981, the United States had accumulated a national debt of $1 trillion. By the time Reagan's one-term successor, former President George Bush was voted out in 1992, the nation reached a staggering $4 trillion debt.
How an American presidential administration can quadruple the national debt within twelve short years yet carry such a grand legacy, let alone a shred of credibility, remains one strange fact. Maybe it's time for Americans to stop following polls and to start thinking for themselves.
Derrick Steven is a freelance American writer living overseas