But He Seemed Like Such a Nice Man

Michael Lind offers an explanation for the intense right-wing, anti-government, apocalyptic rhetoric that we hear so much of these days: “(Ronald Reagan’s) moderation in office had less effect on American society than the decades of vilification of the public sector that he pumped like toxic waste into public discourse.”

Lind points out that “every crackpot element of today’s radical Right can find inspiration in quotes from Reagan”, such as:

“In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

“The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.”

And on other topics:

“Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face.”

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness” (from Reagan’s nomination speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964).

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.”

“It’s silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas.”

Lind concludes: “Reagan won his popularity by encouraging Americans to think and feel like aggrieved victims, while absolving them from any responsibility for the modern government that they themselves voted for.”


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