Ronald Reagan supporters are pushing to have his likeness on some cash, among other places. Current discussion includes putting Reagan on the $10 or $20 bill, though both proposals would require an act of Congress. Another option is to put Reagan on the dime, or possibly on half the dimes produced (leaving FDR on the other half of all dimes produced), something the Treasury can do without approval from Congress.
All of which causes me further speculation about what made Ronald Reagan so great. Speculation that, by the way, is thoroughly honest, innocent, and not malicious, as some seem to think.
It seems especially ironic to consider putting Reagan on our money considering the divided feelings over Reaganomics. According to that CNN/Money article, the idea behind Reagan’s economic policies were to lower taxes, decrease government regulations, and increase military spending. The result was 20 million jobs, a huge drop in interest rates, and a $3 trillion debt by the end of the decade. The opposite approach seems to be Bill Clinton, who balanced the budget and didn’t cut taxes. I’m no economist and I don’t really know how to compare the two, but I do know that the mid-to-late 1990s had quite an economic boom as well. An NPR commentator pointed out that the economic growth in the 1990s was more evenly spread throughout society.
Interesting points to ponder.
At any rate, I find it especially peculiar that there’s a Ronald Reagan Legacy Project with a goal of “seeing a Reagan commemoration in every American county” (Star Trib). Furthermore, they’d like to add Reagan to Mt. Rushmore (though they might have to settle for the road that leads to Rushmore). Apparently there are only some 54 memorials to Reagan across the country, compared to more than 600 for John F. Kennedy and more than 800 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Apparently it’s a race.
But seriously, it makes me wonder about who we honor and why we honor them. Why are there 600 memorials for JFK? Was his shortened presidency that great? Was averting a nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis that much of an accomplishment? Or was he just a popular guy and we feel bad he was shot?
I understand that it’s important to remember the past and honor national heroes, but all the rangling over who’s a better hero or a more worthy hero is really odd. And at one point is one hero better than another? When can Reagan, hero of the Cold War, replace Alexander Hamilton, hero of the Revolutionary War? Because there’s only so much space for memorial. I can imagine a park absolutely cluttered with bronze statues to hundreds of years of American presidents. You’d be walking on the George H.W. Bush Memorial Sidewalk reading your Official Gerald Ford Map and sucking away on your large Bill Clinton Sodapop.
All the while no one can remember what any of them did.