web analytics
December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

When Paradigms Shift


Nearly thirty years ago, this country underwent a paradigm shift when Ronald Reagan swept into the presidency, defeating Jimmy Carter after a single term. Along with Carter, Reagan displaced an entire way of thinking that had informed our politics since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Reagan was a transformative president.

An old line liberal Democrat, Reagan refashioned himself as a conservative Republican in the 1950s as his film career wound down and he transitioned from president of the Screen Actors Guild to TV pitchman for on the old Western TV show “Death Valley Days.” By the 1964 presidential race, he was supporting Senator Barry Goldwater, the principled libertarian-conservative Senator from Arizona who held the seat John McCain holds today.

Reagan wasn’t highly thought of by the elites and intelligentsia of his day, most of whom favored liberal politics and the Democratic Party which had attained majority status during FDR’s presidency. Nor was Reagan a compelling speaker in the manner of history’s great orators, but because he had an amiable and easygoing style and could make people feel at ease, he earned the reputation of being a Great Communicator.

Surprising many of his detractors, Reagan won two terms as governor of California and in 1980 claimed the Republican presidential nomination and then the White House.

As president, Reagan wrought a revolution of sorts in this country when he handled the Soviet Union effectively through a forceful foreign policy and an advocacy of democratic values even as he presided over a resurging American economy. Things had been bad throughout the 1970s, after the spending excesses of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, Richard Nixon’s neo-Keynesianism and Jimmy Carter’s gloom and doom malaise. Big government had begat big spending and, by the time of Carter’s presidency it had also begat stagflation, driving our economy into a deep and seemingly permanent recession.

To many of us in those years, it seemed America would never claw its way out again. But Reagan’s hopeful rhetoric gave us the ability to believe in America’s future and its capacities to recover. And he delivered policies that released the pent-up economic power still latent in the nation.

His policies of deregulation and lower taxes provided incentives for millions to invest, work and earn again. The dissolution of the Cold War on Reagan’s watch helped, too, of course, as did the various moves for welfare reform which began in his presidency and kept growing right into the ‘90s and the administrations of his successors.

Many liberals never forgave him for those successes, but whether one liked him or not, his ideas formed the basis for how we came to think about economics and society. He revived our belief in individual responsibility, liberty and the importance of rewarding hard work. Without gutting what he called the “social safety net,” he fought to scale it back and to build into it obligations and limits for those who would use it.

Despite the naysayers, his policies worked – and for nearly thirty years thereafter America and its democratic, free market values became both beacon and benchmark to the wider world. But something went wrong with this model in 2007 and our financial institutions and markets began to spin out of control in 2008. In the first months of 2009 we find ourselves faced with what could be a downturn the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.

The new Democratic administration that swept into office in the wake of the imploding economy seems committed to a different way of doing business. The previous Republican administration, more pragmatic than principled in the matter of economic management, had been too tolerant of spending excess while proving ineffective in dealing with entitlement reform or stopping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before they sinned again. Those two government-sponsored entities were in the vanguard of those that precipitated this mess.

It’s not that the Bush administration didn’t try to address the Fannie and Freddie excesses. It’s just that it got nowhere for want of focus, commitment and, perhaps most tellingly, a lack of political skill in an unusually harsh, partisan atmosphere.

Now President Obama has the helm and, with Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, what little spending restraint once existed seems to have flown entirely out the window. Obama is promising to address the exploding deficit in the out-years while adding fuel to the deficit fire in the near term. Perhaps it can’t be helped. In a crisis no administration can sit on its hands, as George W. Bush learned to his chagrin. The country wants movement, it wants to see its president, sleeves rolled up, doing something – and Obama is more than willing to oblige.

If he succeeds in righting this listing economy, or is seen in the end to have succeeded, he will have changed the paradigm as Reagan and FDR did before him. But for those of us who came to believe in the free market/small government model that Reagan pitched so successfully to the nation – a paradigm which grew to be the bellwether feature of American society in the minds of populations around the globe – there is now a much larger question to be answered:

Were these past thirty years of increasing national and global prosperity nothing but an illusion and can we hope to pull ourselves out of it this time by forsaking those policies that saved us the last time we blew it?

About the Author: Stuart W. Mirsky is a Queens-based writer and columnist for several local papers. He is the author of the historical novel "The King of Vinland's Saga," about Vikings and Indians in eleventh-century North America, and "A Raft on the River," the true story of a 15-year-old girl's escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “When Paradigms Shift”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
King Abdullah II
Intel: Abdullah — the Last Hashemite King of Jordan
Latest Indepth Stories
Hanukiyah created by world famous Venetian Glass Blower

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

President Ronald Reagan

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

Lebovic-122614

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

The New York Police Department has announced increased coverage of NYC synagogues.

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’

He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.

Hamas recently stated publicly that a new explosion of violence against Israel is imminent.

We can never allow Israel in the name of democracy to turn herself into an Arab or bi-nationalstate

The Jordanian public is a fertile ground of anger that could be easily exploited by ISIS.

More Articles from Stuart W. Mirsky

The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, along with federal judge John Roll (a Republican appointee) and numerous others, including a nine year-old constituent of the Congresswoman, resulting in the deaths of six (including the judge and the little girl) and brain injury to the congresswoman, prompted the usual ruminations.

While it’s not too early for Republicans to start feeling optimistic, they need to realize this kind of resurgent mood isn’t unlike the ebullience of markets bouncing off a bottom. As market pundits like to say, even a dead cat will bounce when it’s tossed from a great height. After having fallen so low in public esteem during the last days of the Bush administration, it only makes sense Republicans’ spirits would surge at an impending reversal of fortune.

A friend of mine came to this country from China back in the eighties. China had little opportunity for people like him he tells me, especially after Chairman Mao had destroyed the country. To get anywhere you had to know people and pay them off. Everything, he adds, was corrupt and there was no freedom. America looked better and so he emigrated, married and raised a family here.

With the outgoing and endlessly embattled Bush administration showing signs of exhaustion in 2008 and the onslaught of an unforeseen financial crisis, Democrats won the U.S. presidency while gaining an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives and 60 veto-proof seats in the U.S. Senate (thanks, in part, to a disputed Minnesota election putting TV comic Al Franken over the top in his state and the inclusion of Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders and Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman).

It’s no secret these days that the Obama administration leans left.

On every crucial issue, from dealing with al Qaeda and the threat of terrorism, to the environment, to health care, to the administration’s handling of our overseas adversaries, the president and his advisers have come down hard on the left side of the political divide.

Nearly thirty years ago, this country underwent a paradigm shift when Ronald Reagan swept into the presidency, defeating Jimmy Carter after a single term. Along with Carter, Reagan displaced an entire way of thinking that had informed our politics since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Reagan was a transformative president.

Well, it’s finally over – and about time, too. After two years of seemingly endless campaigning and eight of partisan bickering and recriminations, the country appears to have turned a historic corner.

Nothing is certain except death and taxes — but a few things come close. One is that, come November, either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain will emerge as the next president. When that happens we’ll be turning the page on eight years of rancorous political partisanship.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/when-paradigms-shift/2009/03/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: