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Ronald Reagan Biography History

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Ronald Wilson Reagan, from Tampico, Illinois, was born on February 6, 1911, to parents Nelle and John Reagan. “In 1928, Reagan studied high school in Dixon. His extra-curricular activities include being a part of the football team, track and field, and acting in school plays” (The White House). In 1928 and 1932, he received a degree in economics and sociology at a minor liberal arts school at Eureka College. “When he was a sophomore, it was the time when Reagan’s interest in drama bloomed. He also served as student body president in his college years. The populist rhetoric of Franklin Delano Roosevelt drew Reagan to him and later inspired the speech style of Reagan (Reagan 2020).

He secured a job as a radio sports sports announcer during the early stages of his career, “first at WOC in Davenport, IA, later a full time staff announcer at WHO in Des Moines” (United States. Presidents p. vii). “However, his biggest break came in the year 1937, when he joined a screen test and succeeded him a contract in Hollywood. Reagan was a famous movie actor during the next two decades and he graced in a total of 53 films” (The White House).

“Account of his personal life included a first marriage to actress Jane Wyman while filming the movie Brother Rat. His first child Maureen was born and Michael Reagan was adopted before their divorce in 1949” (United States Presidents viii). “In 2001, his first child Maureen passed away” (The White House).

Ronald Reagan Biography History

“In 1952, he remarried to a fellow actress in the person of Nancy Davis, with whom had two children, Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott” (The White House). “Reagan and Davis appeared only in one film entitled Hell Cats of the Navy which was filmed in 1957. In 2002, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary”. (United States President p.viii)

“After World War I, Reagan returned to Hollywood and his interest in the entertainment industry waned” (United States President p. viii). “He became actively involved in disputes over the issue of Communism in the film industry during his stint as the president of the Screen Actors Guild. There was also an apparent change in his political views as he shifted from liberal to conservative” (The White House).  “In 1952, he campaigned as a Democrat for Eisenhower. Reagan accepted a job as spokesman for the General Electric Company” (Reagan 2020) which allowed him to “tour the country by giving speeches as General Electric’s spokesperson” (United States President p. viii). He became an advocate for conservatism as this was evident during his speeches.

“In 1960 Reagan joined the campaign of Richard Nixon when he ran for Presidency. In 1962, he officially made a swing to another party which is Republican. It was during his speech in the year 1964, where he appeared on a television address for Goldwater, A Time for Choosing, which officiated his bid to enter a political career. There were several groups who supported his political career, particularly, the group of California businessmen who placed him in his gubernatorial bid. His first autobiography entitled Where’s the Rest of Me? was published in 1965” (Reagan 2020).

“Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1966 by a margin of a million votes” (The White House).  It was during this time when he conquered the incumbent governor then, Edmund G. Brown by a landslide of over a million votes. His success in the election as governor prepared him to become a leading contender for the Republican Presidential race in 1968 (Reagan 2020)”.

“In the same year of 1968, he made a tentative run for the presidency, while waiting until the Republican National Convention to announce his candidacy” (Reagan 2020). He gave his support to Richard Nixon as he joined his massive supporters. “He sought for re-election as governor and won in 1970” (The White House). “In the year 1974, months after the expiration of his term as Governor, he began to write for a syndicated newspaper column wherein he graced radio commentaries in radio stations throughout the country. It was exactly on November 20, 1975 when he announced his intention to run as a Republican president. Though he did not win during the party’s nomination, his strong showing laid the groundwork for the election in 1980” (Reagan 2020).

It was in the year 1980, when Reagan won the Republican nomination for Presidency. “His support was overwhelming and was inaugurated as the 40th President  Of the United States in 1981 in a landslide victory over the incumbent Jimmy Carter. This was facilitated by the efforts of his numerous voters who supported him and worried about the inflation and the year-long confinement of Americans in Iran  that finally capped the sweet victory of the Republican ticket into office. The astonishing lead of Reagan of a total of 489 electoral votes as against 49 votes for President Jimmy Carter made his mark in history” (United States President p. viii). He was the oldest man to be inaugurated as President, the first two-term President since Eisenhower, and the longest living President in the United States.

He chose as his running mate former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador George Bush. “The platform called for a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom” (Reagan 2020).

During the period of eight (8) years while in office, the significant highlights of his career included the following: “On January 20, 1981, Reagan took office, only 69 days later, he was wounded by an assasin’s bullet, but quickly recovered and returned to office. His display of exceptional grace and wit during his near death experience caused his popularity to soar high” The White House).

  “He was also the first President to have appointed a woman to the Supreme Court. He also worked to cut inflation and reduce government spending. He also improved the military by negotiating for the reduction of Nuclear Weapons with the Soviet Union. He defeated the take-over of the Grenada and called upon Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall” (United States President p.viii).

The notable works of Reagan included the following: He was responsible for “obtaining legislation to motivate the economic growth, curtailed the inflation rate, boosted employment for Americans, and strengthened the national defence of the government. He also successfully sought after the cutting taxes and Government expenditures while he refused to deviate from it when the strengthening of defence forces led to a large deficit” (The White House).

Towards the end of his two terms in office, Ronald Reagan coined his innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution. “It was aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance and dependency on Government aid. It became the fulfilment of his campaign pledge of 1980 to the restoration of the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism” (The White House).

“Ronald Reagan gave support to anti-Communist revolts and insurgencies within the Central America, Asia, and African which is in consonance to the Reagan Doctrine. The Reagan years saw a re-establishment of opulence and prosperity, and the objective of peace reigned through his great leadership. This was a novelty in foreign policy he implemented when he sought to achieve peace through strength” (The White House).

At the age of 79, he left the Presidency and returned to California. “A library was dedicated to him in his honor known as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. In the year 1994, he released a letter to the American People pronouncing that he had Alzheimer’s disease. He concluded his letter by saying “I know will begin this journey that will lead me in the sunset of my life. I know that for America, there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thanks you my friends. May God always bless you.” He died in June 5, 2004 and his remains were lain at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California” (United States President p. viii).

Ronald Reagan has been an inspiration to his countrymen and the entire world. I, for one, look-up to his achievements because he reached the peak of his success through hard work and utmost perseverance. Referring back at history, he only started as an actor. But because of his exceptional innate qualities, he was able to build his own mark in history and remembered by people because of his seemingly humane persona.

Although the press has repeated tried to discredit his qualifications to reach the much-coveted title of President of the land by linking him to his Hollywood background, that did not become a hindrance for him to discount his detractors’ misconception on him.

He was an exemplar of courage when he was almost killed by an assassin’s bullet only a few days after he assumed his Presidency despite the attempt of his life. This is a manifestation of insurmountable courage and compassion to serve his countrymen. His thirst for knowledge did not wane as he was influential in drafting his policies and continued to work for progress and change throughout the country during his term.

As a student, I am inspired when I discover how great men started and worked their way up in the ladder of success. Reagan was a simple man with humble beginnings. He is as human as anyone of us. His background shows that though he was an actor, the same did not prevent him to gain the approval of society as he sought for a higher position in life. His down-to-earth characteristic earned him the respect of the nation. He proved to the people that anybody can become a president if you have the wit and vigor and have the capacity to manage practical affairs one day at a time. One does not have to be a highly intelligent and a genius to be able to run a country. He used his common sense and positive disposition to make his government proficient at its job. The humble outlook in life of Reagan won the hearts of his people because he presented himself as an effective conversationalist. He was also referred to as the “Great Communicator” because he knew how to establish contact with his people and the media every time he delivers a speech before them. We all know that communication is a vital key to improve any relationship. The relationship of the State and the people is indispensable to reach the success of a nation.

His diplomatic affairs made a major impact in American record because he was able to accomplish the largest tax cut ever documented in history. This is one of his chief achievements which redounded to the benefit of the country’s economy. It only goes to show that he has set his heart to serve the people. He did everything within his power to ensure that all his decisions are geared towards the public interest and welfare. Such courageous and generous traits are laudable because he knows how to give back to the nation the trust and confidence that they have bestowed upon him.

 A leader will only become effective if his followers have faith in every step that he takes. This is exactly what Reagan’s term demonstrated because he was given a total of eight (8) years to be in power. People appreciated him and gave him high approval ratings because they see that he is a working President.

As a young student, I consider Reagan as a hero. He has offered his life and career to be in service to the American nation. He has given major contributions to improve the lives of his countrymen and the entire world.

We cannot discount the role he portrayed to abolish communism and how he worked so hard to maintain peace among other nations. His diplomacy and peacekeeping attributes helped so many people throughout the world. He is one of the well-loved and popular American Presidents of all time. Aside from his good looks, he was perceived a “good guy” who was always ready to lend a helping hand. This is one beautiful quality that the youth of today should emulate. Reagan did not start-out big. He came from modest backgrounds and worked on top of himself. His courage, self-confidence, discipline and generous heart are the qualities I admire the most. If you believe in yourself, everything is possible.

Nowadays, it is hard to say that if there are still great leaders like Reagan. He is truly a treasure worth remembering because of the reforms he made in the US government which became successful and earned him the era known as the “Reagan Revolution”.

It was during the period of the 1980’s when the upper side of the U.S. flourished. It became a festivity of wealth and prosperity due the rise of the political ascendancy of one third of the richest class among the Americans. Reagan’s time achieved the exaltation in areas of finance, capitalism and free market. Reagan gained the nation’s respect and admiration which is considered the greatest achievements of the country’s prime leader.

Personally, I have a high opinion of Mr. Reagan as a person. His simplicity, kindness, benevolence and candid demeanor placed him on top of the list of the most-admired people during his time. I venerate him for his good deeds for the nation and his noble qualities as a human being. Just like anyone of us, we can all become heroes and make our country proud in our own little ways.

I firmly believe that education is a major factor to reach greater heights. And just like my hero, Ronald Reagan, I will be able to surpass all challenges in life if I finish a degree because it is one of the supreme treasures in life that nobody can steal. The youth is considered as the hope of the nation. We can all become heroes in our own right only if we believe in our own capabilities and maintain the purest intentions.

Just like Reagan, who started out as a simple person with a dream and made his dreams a reality, I can also attain this only if I keep the passion for life burning. Dream, believe and survive! This will be the motto that will guide me to become the best person I can be, not only for myself, but for the country as well. From this day on, I challenge myself to become better as I embark to discover what lies beyond the complexities of this gift we call life.

Ronald Reagan Election Commercial Advertisement Analysis

An advert from the 1980s, Ronald Reagan is a strong man who has a vision for world peace. In this two-minute film, the narrator starts by stressing the dwindling expectation for world peace and the growing possibility of US intervention in the Persian Gulf due to poor leadership. The narrator repeats the phrases “strength” “restraint” and “leadership” as Reagan introduces the viewers, and juxtaposes Reagan and President Carter with a view to comparing their policies. “Peace is lost when such strength disappears,” says Reagan, as he proceeds to explain his approach to negotiations with the Soviet Union, and ultimately argues that “hope, confidence, and facts” are at the core of his mission strategy. “The time is now,” concludes the narrator. “Reagan for president.”

The impression that the video provides is split. The opening sequence contains pictures of disturbing aliens, as the narrator talks ominously about the droning of an air raid siren. The audience comes to feel a sense of concern as the narrator repeats the word “slowly” when naming out the wars that the US has been participating in, beginning with Korea. It then shifts focus, using a condemning tone while mentioned countries where Carter’s foreign policy has be ineffective—”Angola, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan.” This shift in focus does not outwardly suggest that Carter is to blame for the Iranian hostage crisis, nor that he will lead the US into another war. However, it surely invites the viewer to make that connection based on the flow from describing future risks to the current leader’s shortcomings. The video then transitions into a scene of Ronald Reagan giving a speech, then a television interview. This is where the mood splits, and suddenly the video presents confidence and reassurance, indicating that Reagan is the man with the answers to the problems that Carter presents. The Reagan half uses live quotations and conveys future hope and strategies, focusing on Reagan as the answer.

            The context of this video is a tumultuous political climate in which President Jimmy Carter, the incumbent, was mired in the specifics and met by a critical adversary who was well aware of all his flaws.Ronald Reagan was the two-term governor of California and former actor who faced-off against Carter in 1980. He had a fiscal reputation that would give him great appeal during the inflation problems of the time, but also used his charisma as an actor to be a confident, strong, and effective speaker who could engage listeners and convey his messages with success. While the economic issues were forefront in this election, and his plans for dealing with them well-developed, the Iranian-hostage crisis unexpectedly dominated public opinion as 53 Americans were held in captivity over the course of a year in the American embassy in Teheran. Possibly increasing the strength of his ballot, Reagan selected UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush as his running mate, and the focus of the race shifted greatly to what the Reagan-Bush ticket could do for America’s relations abroad.

What was most important in 1980 was indeed US foreign policy, and this is the primary area where Carter experienced stress and criticism. Carter’s approach to foreign policy was humble and restrained, which may have been perceived as weak by some. This perception of weakness increased during the Iranian hostage crisis. Carter staged a failed rescue attempt of Americans held hostage in Teheran in April of 1980, and as a result, Americans at home grew frustrated. Elizabeth drew is quoted in a description of the political atmosphere as saying “Fairly or not, [the hostage crisis] came to symbolize the question of whether Carter was a leader, whether he was competent, whether he was strong.” The issue of who could keep the peace and who was likely to let it slip away caused the election to be very close by October 1980 (Jimmy).

            The Iranian hostage crisis led to a severing of relations between the United States and the newly formed Islamic Republic of Iran. In one ABC News online archive video (1980), President Carter is shown on national television severing US relations with Iran. The video explains the terms to include expulsion of diplomats, freezing of assets, and placement of economic sanctions. This policy has largely stayed in effect until present day, and shows the decisive action of President Carter. The Reagan campaign, however, had to address Carter’s behaviour with critique in order to convince Reagan that he was the right leader to deal with those problems. The video also shows, in Carter’s words, that the Iranian government failed to negotiate with the US in order to save the hostages, which caused considerable problems for Carter.

Another report suggests that if Carter had arranged for the release of the captives, Reagan’s campaign still had crucial ads ready to be broadcast (Raines). As a result, Reagan was now proposing himself as someone who could fix issues that Carter could not have, but was well positioned to bemoan the Carter administration for exploiting the situation for political advantage in the last weeks of the race. Indeed, Carter’s experience in international affairs and keeping Americans safe from violence and possible war was the key controversy of the election.

            This commercial addresses exactly the issues that surrounded the political context, and was intended for the entire voter base as an audience. Reagan’s struggle was to get his reputation out among the American public, advertising himself not only to Republicans and conservatives, but also to voters who would normally vote for Carter or even be on the fence. A report on the political strategy of Reagan in the 1980 presidential election explains his specific use of “Issue of the Day” campaigning, where he’d target a specific aspect of politics and explain his position and vision for the future. Closer to election day, Reagan appeared on CBS to speak out against Carter’s defense and foreign policy decisions. He specifically spoke about the very issues he described in the aforementioned commercials, including a strategy of obtaining peace through strength. He also spoke on CBS about using bi-partisan policy, an attempt to widen his appeal to a greater audience (Covington).

            The intended audience, therefore, is more specifically those who doubt Carter’s ability to be a strong leader and enforce effective foreign policy. These people may be independents or Democrats who would normally support Carter’s policies, but who are frustrated by Carter’s lack of results in resolving the Iranian hostage crisis as well as the devolving relations between the US and Iran following several other tensions as mentioned in the original ad. The audience also consists of adult Americans who follow world issues and are concerned about the American image abroad, rather than those who are more concerned about the economy and what is going on at home. What is most interesting is that this video truly seeks to shake the foundations of Carter’s supporters, and gives a lengthy sample of Reagan’s viewpoint in his own words, expecting an audience that is open to alternatives after experiencing the initial criticism of Carter in the commercial’s opening.

            The appeals and issues addressed in the commercial are largely based on emotion. The narrator doesn’t attempting to make the viewers think about Carter’s foreign policy and analyze their effectiveness. Instead, the voice attempts to sow the seeds of doubt, causing the viewer to feel uncomfortable, pessimistic, and apprehensive. When the ad transitions to give the Reagan side of the issue, it does not try to convince the viewer using reasoning, but instead repeats emotional key words and creates a more confident, secure, and victorious atmosphere surrounding Reagan.

While the first half repeats “slowly”, “weak”, and “leadership”, the second moves onto new words that represent Reagan rather than Carter. “Strength”, “peace”, “confidence”, and “hope” are the key words in the second half that are repeated by the narrator and echoed by Reagan in his speeches. The commercial polarizes its vocabulary by associating these different sets of words with the two candidates respectively. This polarization also shows that Carter and his weakness are earlier in the timeline, while later on, in the future, we see Reagan as the next step.

Essentially, the ad appeals to the viewer’s confidence in leadership, and addresses the issue of Carter’s weakness by contrasting it with an attempt to emphasize Reagan’s strength. It also casts Reagan as a man of hope, as he explains the optimism he has and that America should also have, thus appealing to those who may be skeptical or hesitant to find a positive outlook in the future of foreign policy and security at home.

            The visual and audio aspects are also important in this ad’s effectiveness. It sometime uses video footage, and sometimes uses images, but always is showing real people. When it is not Reagan or Carter being shown, the ad shows images of others who are meant to convey a certain feeling or sensation. The use of dismayed Koreans in the opening is one already mentioned example, but later the video shows a fearful looking Iranian man, followed by an image of a stern President Carter. As the focus shifts to Reagan, it shows Reagan speaking or interacting with voters, expressing his ability to be in touch with Americans and use his own words to communicate with them. One image depicts young Americans listening to Reagan as he speaks, suggesting that America’s youth should be engaged and are a key part of his audience. Images of Reagan later in the video show him speaking again, but also working, thinking, and negotiating. These images all represent action words, and bring the viewer to remember Reagan’s ad as one that demonstrated that he is not just a politician seeking to occupy an office, but seeks to achieve through his actions. Finally, video footage shows Reagan among a lively crowd as well as US military guards. This conveys a sensation of patriotism and further charisma, and is supported by the very American scene of the Statue of Liberty in gentle light from an aerial view.

            These images have a similar effect to the actual subject matter of the ad. Just as the narrative has a split between the first, darker half and the second, more positive half, the images match the words and sometimes represent individual words or phrases said by the narrator. The opening images are impersonal, accusatory, and foreign, while the rest are very up close and personal and attempt to establish a sense of pride, patriotism, and comfort between the viewer and Reagan. The sound adds another aspect to the advertisement, as we notice that the first half features only the voice of the narrator against silence, stirring up emotion from the stillness. However, as the video progresses, the deep voice of the narrator that sounds so ominous is met with the relief of Reagan’s affable, reassuring tone and higher pitch.

This contrast continues to occur throughout the second half, and the lighter tone brought by Reagan draws the viewer’s attention even more, as his words sound more hopeful and inspiring than the dark, anonymous voice of the narrator. The ending sequence with music helps engineer the final moment, working with the words and images to form a conclusive emotional moment. In the end of the commercial, the viewer experience positive images, positive words, and positive sounds and is encouraged to support Reagan. Thus, a complete audio and visual transition has been made from start to end, capturing the viewer’s attention and emotion along with it in a process ranging from doubt and blame to new hope and confidence. The advertisement in this sense conveys the entire message of Reagan’s campaign and what change he will bring to the country.

Overall, this advertisement is indeed rhetorically effective. The two minute video does not waste a second in engaging the viewer, and does not slip into political jargon or complex arguments about why Reagan is superior to Carter, and what policies are best and worst. Instead, it relies on a very simple structure of showing Carter as the past and Reagan as the future, and uses sounds, images, and words to evoke a negative sensation in the viewer as it discusses Carter. The commercial also remains simple in having two halves, and while the first one brings the viewer down the second, Reagan’s part, comes to the rescue and inspires confidence. The video is completely devoted to causing an emotional reaction in the viewer, and manages to reference the most important political issue of the election while still appealing to feelings rather than reason. Voters are much more easily and drastically moved by emotion, and for this reason the Reagan campaign succeeded in using this advertisement to gain support for Reagan and his “peace through strength” approach to American foreign policy.

Works Cited:
  • Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of A Lifetime. New York, N.Y: Public Affairs Publishing. 1991. Print.
  • Dallek, Robert. Ronald Regan: The Politics of Symbolism : With A New Preface. Canada: First Harvard University Press. 1984. Print.
  • National Review Books. Tear Down this Wall: the Reagan Revolution: A National Review History. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2004. Print
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  • United States. President (1981-1989 : Reagan), Ronald Reagan Volume 1. United States. Office of the Federal Register
  • “April 7, 1980: Carter Cuts Relations with Iran Video.” ABCNews.com. Web. <http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/april-1980-us-cuts-relations-iran-9787014>.
  • Covington, Cary R., Kent Kroeger, Glenn Richardson, and J. D. Woodard. “Shaping a Candidate’s Image in the Press: Ronald Reagan and the 1980 Presidential Election.” Political Reseach Quarterly. Sage Publications, 1993. Web. <http://prq.sagepub.com/content/46/4/783.full.pdf>.
  • Jimmy Carter. By Adriana Bosch. Election of 1980 – Online Special Feature. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2002. Web. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/carter/>.
  • Raines, Howell. “Reagan Prepares an Attack On Carter If 52 Are Freed; Accuses Carter of Deception Reagan Camp’s Confidence.” NYtimes.com. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 1980. Web. <http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70F12FA3B5C11728DDDAB0894D9415B8084F1D3>.
  • Reagan – Peace. Advertisement. The Living Room Candidate. 1980. Web. <http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1980>.
  • “Ronald Reagan.” Our Presidents. The White House. Web. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/ronaldreagan>.

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