Most people understand, and conform to, the unspoken rule that it is bad form to defame, demean, or demonize a religious group’s deity; even in a nation that guarantees the right of free speech. However, if the deity’s existence is the primary source of a free nation’s slide into theocracy and fascism so inherently dangerous to its population, then one cannot possibly allow proper decorum to get in the way of the truth about a god no matter the particular religion. Although in most religions deities do not have a beginning, much less a birthday, the conservative religion’s god was born 104 years ago today. Instead of celebrating B-movie actor Ronald Reagan’s birthday today, Americans should reflect, deeply regret, and grieve that they and their parents foolishly gave bad actor the power to set in motion America’s thirty-year march toward theocracy and corporate fascism. A march today’s conservative religion is closer to enacting than ever before.
Whether any American is willing to admit it or not, Ronald Reagan was the catalyst for, and exemplar of, the 21st Century extremist neo-conservative movement including the radical teabagger, theocratic, fascist, and anti-government factions wreaking havoc on America’s population. Most conservatives hold up Reagan as the epitome of an American patriot because they need a heroic figure to justify their anti-American agenda, but at no time in America’s history was any politician, much less a president of the United States, so unpatriotic as to actively work toward the demise of America’s government; especially one he campaigned to preside over. Everything Republicans have been working to achieve over the past thirty-plus years has been the pursuit to advance Reagan’s assertions that government is inherently evil, robs Americans of their freedom, not of the Christian bible, and a particularly evil entity that must be replaced with corporate fascism and theocracy.
Reagan said often that “Government is source of all of Americans’ problems, and that if we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face.” He also asserted that only by electing anti-government conservatives can “we preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” Obviously, since Reagan was president, Republicans have done nearly everything that could, or can, be done to decimate America’s secular democracy and they openly boast that the entire foundation of their anti-government crusade began with Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It is why in the conservative religion he is god.
It is true that once in office Reagan drifted, if only slightly, away from his extremely radical “anti-government” crusade and the hateful rhetoric that got him elected, but by then the damage was done. It is that “anti-America” rhetoric that today’s conservative movement has embraced as their raison d’être and drives their ambitious war against government, any government, that may work for the people. It is also true that despite his extremist anti-government oratory, Republicans deny that once in office after cutting taxes on the wealthy from 70% to 28%, Reagan had to raise taxes 11 times to prevent bankrupting the government. Still, his insane tax cuts and obscene military spending tripled the national deficit as well as increased the size of the same government he claimed was sheer tyranny devised to kill the American people’s freedoms.
Republicans also choose to forget that their great American war-patriot they claim inspired fear around the world cut and run after terrorists killed 241 U.S. Marines in a bomb attack in Beirut, Lebanon. However, what they have never forgotten is the preponderance of Reagan’s hateful and toxic anti-government rhetoric targeting the American people and any government program that helped the middle class and the poor. It is rhetoric they continue to adhere to today and why they, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to the Koch brothers, are “going after the federal government, all of it” to hasten its demise and usher in the religious and corporate fascism they lust to impose on Americans.
Republicans, the Kochs, and all manner of conservatives have, nearly word for word, used Reagan’s anti-government criticism to attack federal government programs and the Americans who benefit from them. It was their man-god Reagan who first claimed that “Americans’ liberties are being extinguished by tyrannical programs forced on the people by fascist liberals” despite that they helped all Americans of every ethnicity, economic class, and age demographic. For example, Reagan habitually described poor Americans dependent on Medicaid, or retired Americans dependent on Medicare for healthcare, as “a faceless mass waiting for handouts.” The persistent Republican claim today that despite losing their jobs during the Bush-Republican Great Recession, out-of-work Americans are inherently lazy came directly from Reagan who said that “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” Republicans repeated that line last year to justify not extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed; benefits that have not, and never will be, reinstated. Especially since the Koch brothers bought control of Congress for Reagan Republicans.
The constant refrain from the Koch brothers and Republicans that Americans’ freedoms are being destroyed by government, any government, programs came directly from Reagan. He claimed loudly and often that “Fascism was the basis for all New Deal programs” including Social Security, workplace safety laws, the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, child labor laws, and particularly any program helping the elderly have security in their old age. It is why in conservative circles those programs are illegitimate, unconstitutional, dangerous, and existential threats to Americans’ liberty because they are borne of “liberal fascist thinking” and not what conservatives claim are Reagan’s “rugged American individualism,” and why there is a concerted conservative rush to eliminate them. It is noteworthy that Reagan’s vilification of government programs and agencies as fascism and tyranny is the foundation of the John Birch agenda driving the Kochs’ “vision for America;” a vision that Republicans are working tirelessly to advance to fruition as remuneration for buying control of Congress.
If Ronald Reagan was alive today, based on what some historians label as his “moderate conservative policies” as president, he would be vilified by the Republican establishment as a heretic and ejected from the party with extreme prejudice. Despite his radical pronouncements, Reagan did not advocate privatizing or eliminating Social Security, supported full federal funding of Medicaid and Medicare, supported gun safety laws, and is the only president to grant true amnesty to millions of Hispanic immigrants; acts that would earn him the death sentence in conservative circles today. In fact, the Koch brothers, neo-conservatives, teabaggers, theocrats, and corporatists would literally crucify and draw-and-quarter Reagan in public today for the same reason the religious right would kill Jesus Christ on sight if he appeared preaching love, tolerance, and charity for other human beings.
However, all manner of conservatives would bow down and do obeisance if Reagan materialized and delivered even a fraction of his radical and extremist oratory that 21st Century conservatives have embraced as if they were uttered directly from the mouth of god. It is telling that it is Reagan’s hateful, vindictive, radical, extremist, and anti-American rhetoric that has earned him god-status with conservatives and why Republicans are the only fascist threat to America; something every American should demonize Ronald Reagan for on his birthday despite the fact he is the conservative religion’s god.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.