The Reagan Ethos Set A National Precedent


John Manos

Not many other countries can commemorate a past leader as legendary as Ronald Reagan. Not many other past presidents of the United States can claim the same amount of approval as Ronald Reagan. Not many other world leaders could gather as much adoration and admiration as Ronald Reagan. Not many people on this earth can reach the bar of morality set by Ronald Reagan. With the recent death of his vice president, George H.W. Bush, the fathers of the famous “Reagan/Bush ‘84” slogan are now deceased and live on only in memory. So, how should our memories interpret their legacy?

When it comes to Reagan, it’s hard to find much negative rhetoric. There is definitely some out there, but you will find more positives than negatives about the man. He was simply loveable. From a small town in Illinois to Eureka College then onto Hollywood to pursue his career as a B-level actor, former President Reagan truly took an unconventional route to the presidency. In his younger years, Reagan was mainly a liberal Democrat, then turned more conservative  as he aged. “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me,” he said. This would be one of the first of his many wise quotes to be interpreted for countless future generations. Republicans and a small portion of Democrats immediately took to him after his Republican Party nomination loss to Richard Nixon. As the new conservatism came about in the mid-1970s, Reagan became more and more widely adored. In 1980, he was elected president of the United States.

Not everybody loved him, however. On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. The bullet left the muzzle and deflected off the limo in front of him, which flattened it. Now shaped like a skill saw, the bullet entered the president from under the arm and traveled through his chest. Reagan then cordially climbed into the limo and sat down. When they arrived at the hospital, Reagan passed out and was rushed into the emergency room. Now evident that he was in fact shot, Reagan looked up at his surgeons from the operation table and said, “I hope you are all Republicans.”

Later on during his recovery, his wife paid him a visit and when she asked him how he was, he replied with another classic Reagan response, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” On his death bed from a bullet wound paired with pneumonia, Reagan only cared about the well-being and comfort of those around him. This incredible selflessness, paired with a special masculine bravery, is the trait that made him such a unique leader. At a famous speech he gave in Berlin, a balloon in the background suddenly popped, mimicking the sound of a gun. The recently shot president stared out into the crowd, smiled, and said, “Missed me.”

As for his vice president, the recently deceased George H.W. Bush was no less of a man. Former President Bush succeeded the presidency after Reagan’s second term. After his first four years, Bush found himself in a heated competition for the White House with the young Bill Clinton. It was evident that Bush wasn’t going to sacrifice a fraction of his morals to win an election. Some say that’s why he lost. However, when he did lose, he left a note for Clinton in the Oval Office. In the note, he told him about the pressures and excitements that he was about to feel. He told him about the stress and the reward he was about to experience. He told him not to let the critics knock him off his course. He told him that he wished him and his family well. And at the end he wrote, “Your success is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good Luck.”

Morality, cordiality, bravery and intelligence could possibly be the best four words to describe the Reagan-Bush legacy. Their  deaths were two huge losses for this country and for this planet. As icons of the Republican Party, it is hard to compartmentalize Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as only politicians. The men fought for humanity. And it was inevitable that Former President Bush would sneak his way into an article about Reagan. These two set a precedent. They set the bar so high that their legacy remains a main reason as to why our nation continues to be the greatest one on Earth.