Monday, June 07, 2004

Lagniappe: Ronald Reagan - As a die-hard liberal leftist, let me pay my sincere respects to Reagan. In the moment of his passing, he deserves the respect of all Americans, and I mean ALL Americans. Understandably, conservatives who lionized and idolized Reagan are grieving. But I even find myself harkening back to the days of Reagan's presidency, when I was still too young to really differentiate between liberals and conservatives, but old enough to have nostalgic memories of Reagan's charm and his soothing, calming, but resolute voice. There was a time when I had positive feelings for Reagan at the instinctive, gut level, without knowing much about the substance of his administration or his policies. Suffice it to say that the more mature and knowledgable I became in my ideological leanings and political convictions, the more problematic Reagan came to mean for me and the more critical I became towards what his Administration stood for. My critical orientation towards his Administration and his policies has not changed one iota. But, I recognize the honor of the man and his place in America's history.

Because of this, I admit to a touch of melancholy at his passing and I would like to go on record to say that there is no place in American left-liberalism for any vilification of a U.S. President who served his country in the best way he knew how, especially upon this person’s death. Leftists who can find nothing positive to say about Reagan are not really true Americans. As I said, I am by no means a fan of Ronald Reagan’s policies, but he was our President and he gave 8 years (and more) of his life in service to our country. Upon his death, we should remember Reagan as the central leader he was for his times. No one can dispute the fact that he was a giant in contemporary American politics and his legacy in contemporary conservatism will endure for many years to come.

His death is not the time for partisan politics; it is a time to glorify the greatness of American democracy as represented by one of its leaders. I am saddened by the way many on the left are treating the memory of Reagan. It is not appropriate and I, for one, am a leftist who deplores such actions. When Jimmy Carter dies, I must admit that I think conservatives will treat him with the respect and fondness that is due to all of our ex-Presidents for the sacrifices and time they have committed to our great country. My love for America is greater than any party or greater than any one particular President; and Ronald Reagan was a servant of this greater America. For this he deserves our respect and gratitude. All of us should remember that.

But reading the reactions to Reagan's death around the blogosphere, I have come to another troubling realization. Conservatives who claim Reagan as one of their own are very quick to criticize liberals who speak poorly of the man in the context of his death. In fact, it seems to me that conservatives are seeking out the worst they can find in liberal commentary about Reagan and using this as a soapbox for their outrage at all things liberal and leftist in America. I can handle that. But what I find disturbing is the utter lack of a willingness to accept any liberal's kind and sincerely heartfelt sentiments regarding Reagan. It seems as if conservatives are reluctant to share Reagan with the fellow left-liberal Americans. And I wonder if it bothers conservatives when liberals speak fondly and kindly of Reagan. Could it be that conservatives want liberals to share in their admiration and respect for Reagan, but are unwilling to embrace and believe such expressions when they surface? Something odd is afoot here and I can't quite get my mind completely around it. I welcome your thoughts on this strange phenomenon of Conservative criticism of boorish behavior by leftists regarding Reagan, coupled with a latent (though palpable) disdain for any liberal that seeks to share in the grief of losing such an influential American political icon.

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