Posted: 27 Jun 2004
I was six years old in 1984 when I rode with my parents down to the polls where they would cast their votes for "The next president of the United States, Walter Mondale." Of course, at this point, even my parents knew that it was a lost cause.
Ronald Reagan's popularity was soaring and he was about to take 49 states (including Massachusetts, usually a democratic stronghold thanks to the Kennedy family).
When I asked my father why he didn't want to vote for President Reagan, a man that my school's Weekly Reader* assured me was second only to Jesus, he gave me one example that I could apply to my everyday life: "Ronald Reagan thinks that ketchup is a vegetable."
Now that was perhaps an oversimplification of the issue, but remember, I was only six years old. Still, there were many reasons to oppose Reagan.
1. AIDS: Fags getting what they deserve. If we couldn't have completely stopped the spread of AIDS, we could've at least stunted its growth. But crucial funding of AIDS research was not given, because it was a fag disease.
2. Deficit? Anyone? Anyone?
3. Iran-Contra. Okay, so this hadn't broken yet. The shit hit the fan in 1986. But it's still one of the many things that pissed me off as a child. Think about it -- I come home from a hard day of grade school, looking forward to watching G.I. Joe and The Go-Bots, and what do I find? Ollie North's ugly puss lying to Congress. Trading weapons for hostages, really nice. Oh, and as a special bonus, we never get to find out everything that happened with that, since Bush Sr. was kind enough to pardon everyone involved.
4. "I don't recall." Now, this is technically part of the whole Iran-Contra fiasco, but it brings me to another half-assed point. Either Reagan was a liar or he was incompetent. My brother, the black sheep, is a staunch Republican and has been since the age of 11. Whenever I discuss this with him or any young republicans, they give the excuse "But he has Alzheimer's." Exactly. He was not competent enough to run the country.
5. The Mujahedeen, according to Ronald Reagan, were "Equivalent to our Founding Fathers." Flash forward a few years, and these same guys are slamming planes into the WTC. I don't think Washington and Jefferson would approve, but that's just my opinion.
6. Ketchup. Yeah, I'm still pissed about that one. School lunches were shitty enough without some bearded bitch waddling around behind the counter trying to tell you that two packets of Heinz is just as good as an apple.
I'm sure you've seen some bullshit poll or another listing the top five presidents according to any nimrod with an internet connection. It's interesting to track them over the last few years.
While Kennedy has consistently rated among the top for decades after his death, it's only been since Reagan grew ill that he has really started to climb the list.
During their presidencies, Kennedy averaged a job approval rating of around 70% while Reagan averaged around 53%, having hit highs of 68% (for getting shot) and lows of 35% (for being a lousy president).
In a series of Gallup polls conducted since 1999 asking the question "Who do you regard as the greatest United States President?" Reagan has usually come in third behind Lincoln and Kennedy. However, at one point (Feb, 2001) he actually came in first.
Keeping in mind their average ratings while in office, in a 2002 poll of retrospective job approval ratings Kennedy clocked in at about 83% and Reagan came in at 73%. Watch the next poll closely, I'm sure Dutch will hit 94%, which would be fitting, considering that was his age at death and also his best golf score.
* The Weekly Reader was a grade-school newspaper distributed to schools throughout the country. I personally credit this paper with awakening me to the concept of propaganda, but I'll talk more about this some other time.