Was President Ronald Reagan a Conservative?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-2004
Was President Ronald Reagan a Conservative?
1
Thu, 11-14-2013 - 9:25am

      I feel that Ronald Reagan or at least the Federal Government when Ronald Reagan was President was mostly conservative.  To see this it is first important to look at the definition of conservative.  The following are excerpts from the definition of conservative from three different dictionaries.  They can be found at Free Dictionary:

      The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) in part defines conservative as: “Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.”

      The Collins English Dictionary (2003) defines conservative in part as: favouring the preservation of established customs, values, etc., and opposing innovation.”  Also, as “a person who is reluctant to change or consider new ideas; conformist”

      The Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary (2010) defines conservative in part as “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.”

      In the Free Dictionary website the definition of conservative as a noun is also defined as “a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas” and as an adjective conservative is defined as “resistant to change.”

      Further the following quote has been accredited to William F. Buckley, Jr.: “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’” and the following quote has been accredited to Abraham Lincoln: “What is conservatism?  Is it not the adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried?”

      Between 1933 and 1968 the United States went through significant changes as regarding the “New Deal Programs” during the 1930s, the redirection of U.S. foreign policy to a more international direction during the 1940s, the Civil Rights programs during the late 1940s to 1960s and the “Great Society Programs” of the 1960s.  A few of these changes were reversed, but most were not.  So, the period 1933 to 1968 in America was clearly not conservative because of these changes.

      Well what happened during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency from 1981 to 1989?  For the most part the changes that occurred between 1933 and 1968 stayed in effect.  That is, for the most part, these changes were conserved during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency.  Perhaps the greatest changes between 1981 and 1989 were the lowering of tax rates and the other changes in tax policy that accompanied that reduction and the deregulation of thrifts and other bank regulation changes represented by the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982.  So, with the exceptions of the change in taxes and the bank deregulation the status quo was conserved during Ronald Reagan’s time as President, so with the exception of those two changes Ronald Reagan was a conservative President or at least the policy of the Federal Government during that time was conservative.  The least conservative parts were the changes mentioned above.

      Now, some people might say that the definition of conservative is the favoring small government.  Under that definition either Ronald Reagan was not a “conservative” or he was ineffective in implementing a “conservative” policy because there does not seem to have been any overall reduction in the size of the Federal Government during the time of his Presidency.

      Tom,

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2012
Thu, 11-14-2013 - 5:36pm

Yes.