It was helpful of Shane Carley to show his true colors in the first paragraph of his piece (“Democrat divisions benefit GOP”), so I didn’t need to waste anymore time reading his opinion. Recent commentary by Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert destroys any notion that Reagan was the “greatest president of the 20th century.” History will not be re-written, Shane; Reagan opposed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and used race-baiting tactics in his campaigns.
As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which he described in 1980 as “humiliating to the South.” He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation. Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa.
As Thomas and Mary Edsall put it in their classic 1991 book, “Chain Reaction: The impact of race, rights and taxes on American politics,” “Reagan paralleled Nixon’s success in constructing a politics and a strategy of governing that attacked policies targeted toward blacks and other minorities without reference to race - a conservative politics that had the effect of polarizing the electorate along racial lines.” Furthermore, despite Oliver North taking the fall, Reagan’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair is tantamount to treason in many American’s eyes.
Class of 2001