America During Reagan Presidency | Then & Now

August 06, 2018

Reagan’s America vs. 2018 America

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That old adage has some relevance in today’s world, though with a few important caveats.

The current political climate has caused some pundits to compare it to America during Reagan. When the Great Communicator was in office, he worked hard to shift national attention onto the “America first” mantra, a guiding principle of both Reagan’s domestic and foreign policy. Reagan sought to center not just America, but also basic American freedoms, including the right to privacy and freedom of religion.

Many of these ideas have made a comeback in recent years. President Trump has proclaimed the same “America first” mission that Reagan popularized and a goal that has been seen both in how the country interacts with allies and opposition. The freedoms that the country promises have also become more top of mind for many, while in a slightly different context than they did in America during Reagan. Conversations about the role of government in ensuring online privacy, as well as how religious freedom fits in with modern business are both ongoing among Americans on both sides of the aisle.

What sets America during Reagan a bit apart from the current state of the country may lie in the attitudes that guide the political climate. During Reagan’s tenure, the Republican Party was somewhat unified; while there were natural differences among party members and leaders, most would agree upon the common elements that defined the party. In today’s world, however, both leading political parties are fractured, with political ideals threatening to drive those wedges even further. Similarly, the quality of the political discourse has devolved since the time of America during Reagan. Then, Reagan followed his own “11th Commandment,” which discouraged political infighting in the party, instead encouraging civility with the aim of unity. That mission has been lost in today’s world, which is rife with personal jabs among politicians.

As is often the case, looking to the past—such as America during Reagan—can provide a guidebook for the future.

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