Ronald Reagan: Principles—And Failings

By no means the least of Ronald Reagan`s achievements
as man and president was that he may well have been the
first chief executive since

Herbert Hoover
who did not deserve a prison term for
his crimes.

He also managed to hold the presidency twice, hand
his office over to a designated successor and remain a
popular and even a beloved figure for the rest of his

But aside from these not inestimable accomplishments,
his enduring legacy as a conservative statesman is
pretty thin.


Franklin Roosevelt,
Reagan did not deceive and
his country into war
through outright and covert
aggression against foreign nations.

Unlike Harry Truman, Reagan did not cover up for
known Soviet agents like

Alger Hiss
and then

vilify patriots
who tried to expose them and bring
them to justice.

Unlike Dwight Eisenhower, he did not engineer the
deliberate starvation of thousands of German civilians
after World War II nor contrive to send thousands of
Soviet POWs back to be massacred by Stalin in

"Operation Keelhaul."

Unlike John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard
Nixon, Reagan did not

steal the presidential election outright
, use the
government to spy on and harass his political rivals, or
cover up criminal conduct within his own administration.

It may be that

Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter
did not commit such crimes either, but
in the case of these two mediocrities, their innocence
may have been due simply to lack of imagination rather


Reagan was by far the most principled man to serve as
president in half a century.

And yet, given the expectations of the Reagan
presidency that virtually all American conservatives
had, he was a disappointment. It is simply a myth that
he won the Cold War or destroyed the Soviet Union, and
every serious anti-communist at the time knew that. 

In 1987 Rep. Jim Courter, a strong anti-communist
congressman of the era, wrote in the Heritage

Policy Review
that "pronouncements by the
administration about `having the Soviets on the run` are
totally unwarranted,"
and when Reagan left office in
1989, George Will remarked, "Reagan has accelerated
the moral disarmament of the West … by elevating wishful
thinking to the status of political philosophy."
Soviets collapsed shortly afterwards mainly because of
their own internal economic and political incoherence,
not because Reagan defeated them.

Reagan`s most successful policies were

, which is why the economic determinists who
today dominate conservatism gush over him so much, and
he did meet the challenges of an eroding economic base
misguided by economic illiteracies and political

But the federal leviathan by the time he left office
was even larger and more powerful than when he entered,
with bigger budgets, one more federal department, and
unfulfilled promises of abolishing two existing

What the American right of that era wanted from
Ronald Reagan more than anything else was a
counter-revolution against the cultural domination of
liberalism. In that respect Reagan was a miserable

Throughout his administration the poison of

"political correctness"
and its grim sisters of

took over the nation`s universities
and media, aided by the mass immigration that began to
take off in the Reagan years and to which he and his
administration were largely oblivious. (In

administration-backed legislation delivered an

for illegal aliens.)

He did little to stop or push back affirmative
action; the Voting Rights Act was extended (with the
help of Newt Gingrich), and the Martin Luther King
federal holiday became law.

The Reagan years were critical to the


cultural revolution
that has now enthroned itself.

Neo-conservatives today like to claim Ronald Reagan
as one of their own and to

wrap themselves in his mantle,
but he was never what
we today call a

Unlike them, he was a

Goldwater conservative
who first came to public
political attention by his

rousing endorsement
of Goldwater on the very eve of
his 1964 defeat. From that moment until 1980, the
American right defined itself around a Reagan candidacy
and the promise of what he would do when he took office.

Reagan was a "neo-conservative" only in the
sense that he was a liberal who became a conservative.
The conservatism he embraced was not simply a watered
down version of liberalism purporting to be something

Therefore, you can`t really blame Reagan`s
inadequacies as a conservative on neo-conservatism, nor
can you blame him as a man. You probably have to blame
the ideology itself—which insisted that it really was

"morning in America"
when in fact it was far
closer to the eleventh hour.

Only a Right willing and able to tell the time
correctly and explain it to Americans will be able to
perceive and confront the challenges Ronald Reagan

The Right he represented and led couldn`t do that.



[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,

America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture
, is now available

Americans For Immigration Control.

Click here
for Sam Francis` website. Click

to orderhis monograph
Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American
Political Future and
here for
Glynn Custred`s review.