Before you head out to purchase a new mattress, or try to mail a package only to discover the P.O. is closed (Presidents Day!), why not celebrate the legacy of our most beloved modern president, a certain Ronald Reagan?
Life in the first Reagan-Bush era might have been tough, especially if you were not a bloodthirsty yuppie. As we now know, the trickle-down never quite trickled down. But it sure produced some great music. This post presents a sampling of our favorite songs from the Reagan era, while toasting a few of his many accomplishments.
You might have guessed there'd be a bit of hardcore punk rock in the list, and you would be correct. Reagan's policies of gaming the system in favor of who we now call the 1% did not sit very well with punks. They could also see through his veneer of smiling "aw shucks"-isms to see his truly brutal, union-busting true self.
You know how every major metropolitan city has tons of mentally ill homeless people living under bridges? This is due in great part to policies enacted by the Reagan administration, who greatly defunded and dismantled the entire system that once provided cheap or free care for the most vulnerable members of society, those most in need of help. Even little kids could make the leap to know who was to blame for the explosion in homelessness in the 1980s!
Some did not think that a crummy B-movie actor could make a decent president. His anti-intellectualism laid the groundwork for the Idiocracy-in-effect presidency of George W. Bush.
In the 1980s, you'd be looked upon as a total wacko if you stated that the CIA was contributing directly to the deaths of thousands of inner city and marginalized residents by funneling large amounts of cocaine directly into inner cities as part of their illicit Iran-Contra scheme. Today, everyone knows this actually happened, but we all found out so late that no one can be held accountable
How is this guy not looked upon with utter contempt today? Under Reagan, the U.S. government raided the Social Security fund.
Reagan worked to destabilized Nixon's nascent Environmental Protection Agency at every turn.
Reagan directly funded the very terrorists who'd later launch the attacks of 9/11 on U.S. soil.
Reagan was not only super friendly to corporations, but across the board he raised taxes on the middle class and lowered them for the wealthy.
Reagan did not respond in any way to the AIDS crisis until it was finally clear to all that the disease was not solely affecting homosexuals and addicts.
The lack of funding for research into HIV, the absence of any kind of hospice care for those in late stages of AIDS — the fact he didn't even utter the words "HIV" and "AIDS" until the seventh year of his tenure — this is one of Reagan's true lasting legacies, the needless death of thousands of innocent women, children and men.
Under Reagan, the national debt tripled in size.
Millions of dollars were wasted on defense spending that simply went nowhere, like the infamous "star wars" laser defense shield.
It remains remarkable that the administration was not sunk by the brazenly immoral and illegal acts of Iran-Contra.
It is under the Reagan administration that the practice of paying more than lip service to the insane right wing of the Republican Party gained traction, a practice that has shifted the entire political spectrum so far to the right that on almost every stance, a moderate Republican ca. 1978 would be treated as the most evil of far leftist Dems today.
Reagan's sainthood among Republicans (who must have trouble today ignoring the fact that he gave amnesty to three million illegal immigrants) was immediate, and almost immaculate.
Today, even Democrats praise Ronald Reagan. But I'm just the music editor here, so what do I know?
I don't think I like him very much. (The collage above is by Keith Haring, who died from AIDS-related illness.)
Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...