In the fall of 1980, I was a freshman at the University of Maine. I was tripled-up in a dorm room with two other guys whose names I can’t remember. What I do remember, though, is that one of them was fanatically pro-Carter, while the other was just as far off the deep end for Reagan. I voted for Anderson as much to spite both of them as anything, I think. After spending four years in the drip pan of his “trickle down” economics theory and watching him spend the country into massive debt in his anti-Commie crusade, I vowed never to take voting that lightly again.
I have never been a member of the Ronald Reagan fan club.
What I will say, though, is that (at least on camera) the man was incredibly charming and sincere. Leadership is more than giving people orders and expecting blind loyalty. You have to bring people along with you. Reagan could do that. He had the kind of ability to make you believe that everything was going to be alright–the same kind of ability that I hear in old recordings of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
When he spoke after the Challenger disaster in 1986, it was the kind of inspiring, comforting speech that a true leader gives. Yes, it was probably his training as an actor, but he knew when to put the partisan rhetoric in the closet. He knew when we just needed to be talked to as a family. He knew when to be an American, not just a Republican.