Ronald Regan’s Conservatism-with-a-Smile

America’s 1970’s was a dark time for the country. Between our defeat in Vietnam, the rising unemployment rate, and the rise of divorce breaking American families, life for the average American looked bleak. Even their president, Jimmy Carter, was pessimistic about their situation, “deeming America’s problems complex, and it’s resources limited.” This pessimistic attitude was sharply contrasted by his rival in the Election of 1980, Ronald Reagan. Reagan offered up a different perspective on America’s problems. These were not trials to be endured, but rather, they were challenges to be face, and America would face them as they faced every trial, with courage and willingness. He wasn’t willing to accept that the answers were too difficult to be made simple, and he said as much in his Inaugural Address as Governor of California in 1967 “…the truth is, there are simple answers – there just are not easy ones.”

Ronald Reagan’s brand of conservatism was like that of his predecessor, Barry Goldwater, whom Reagan supported in his campaign for president in 1964. Unlike his more hotheaded counterpart, Reagan branded the reigning in of government as a good thing. He didn’t berate those who called him unrealistic, but rather, he laughed at their unwillingness. He gave Americans hope. He gave the people his brand of conservatism with a smile.


This idealism struck a chord with Americans. This was a candidate that they felt they could trust. Regan’s victory against Carter was a landslide, ushering in a new era of hope for the American, but also a realignment in American’s political values, which would cause the majority of American to lean toward conservatism.


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