The Reagan Revolution

    "Consider the changes in two areas in which President Reagan sought to bring about fundamental shifts in national policy-economics and foreign policy. In economics, enactment of the historic legislation simplifying the tax code and cutting top marginal rates nearly in half is an act of epochal importance. It signifies the utter eclipse of the old economics, mistrustful as it too often was of private enterprise, overly trustful as it too often was of government planning. A new understanding has set in of some old truths concerning the entrepreneurial sources of economic growth and well-being, and the role of government as a reliable and steady economic umpire. The practical reforms that have been achieved in the past five years-the practical successes we have had-rest on a real intellectual revolution, one in which, I might add, The Heritage Foundation has played an indispensable role. And just as the failed ideas of the past underlie the spirit of malaise which President Carter apparently thought our national condition, so this intellectual revolution justifies the optimism with which we face our future."

     "Foreign and defense policy is the other main arena in which the Reagan Revolution has, of necessity, focused its energies. And here, too, I believe, we have succeeded in fundamentally overturning the self-indulgent pessimism of the 1970s. In fact, if the president had achieved little else, he would have secured forever his place in American history for his undeviating commitment to the rebuilding of our nation's defenses-the absolute precondition of our ability to conduct a sound foreign policy of any kind. Then there are the successes in Grenada and El Salvador, the historic opportunity represented by the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the new realism concerning the threat of Soviet and Communist expansion, not least in Central America. In light of such tangible achievements as these, it seems to me fair to say that we have turned a corner. To put it simply: the United States as a nation is becoming a stronger force in the world arena. What is more significant, we understand once again why it is important to be strong. Once again we acknowledge the necessity of acting energetically to defend our interests and our values in a dangerous world. For no less than in the economic sphere, the great success of the Reagan Revolution in foreign and defense policy reflects not just particular changes in discrete policies, but rather a transformation in our underlying sense of what America is and what it can accomplish. In effecting this second transformation, the role played by Heritage has again been vital; and on this front as well, American conservatism under the leadership of President Reagan has created grounds for optimism about the future."

*William Bennett, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education


    Committed to pushing a New Right agenda of revolutionary proportions, Reagan's domestic program featured much rhetoric and five principal elements: (1) tax cuts; (2) deregulation of certain sectors of the economy; (3) a balanced budget based upon a massive reduction of government expenditures for social welfare programs; (4) significantly increased military spending; and (5) a scaling down of government support for affirmative action/racial and gender preference programs  for non-whites and women. In its broadest outlines, the new agenda hoped to overthrow the aggressive character of government involvement in American society begun by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. At its least, the New Right agenda aimed at raising issues and pushing for change from the top down by establishing a new set of principles to challenge defiantly the so-called liberal, conventional wisdom that dominated policy in the minds of conservatives.*

*The American President