Mark W. Hendrickson

The prospect of four more years of Barack Obama in the White House has caused several conservative voices (among them, The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger, Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer, and noted Ronald Reagan scholar Paul Kengor) to opine that President Obama’s second term portends the passing of the Reagan era, the reversal of his pro-growth policies and the attempted burial of Reagan’s credo, “government is the problem.”

None of this is news. It is a given that Obama and his fellow progressives reject Reagan’s values and philosophy. They will continue to try to expand government.

There is, however, a more sinister dimension to the progressive agenda: Rush Limbaugh asserted that Team Obama wants to “erase every trace of Reagan from America”—not just to repeal and reverse Reagan’s policies, but to engage in wholesale historical revisionism by obfuscating Reagan’s record and reshaping public opinion about him. It serves the progressives’ interests if they can obscure the fact that Reagan’s policies of lower tax rates, a sound dollar, and reductions in governmental regulatory micromanagement enhanced prosperity and raised standards of living. Those of us who lived through the Reagan years remember the resulting economic growth, but nobody under the age of 30 has first-hand knowledge of those years.

Is it really possible that the left could rewrite the history of the Reagan presidency? Absolutely. They’ve already perverted the record of earlier Republican presidents. Take, as Exhibit A, Warren G. Harding—the president who always appears at the bottom of presidential rankings.

Yes, I know there were a couple of crooks in Harding’s cabinet. Those odious men betrayed the trust of both a president and a nation. But while they gained a few hundred thousand dollars, Harding’s policies enriched the American people by billions. Harding entered office in the midst of the Depression of 1920-21—a downturn as rapid and severe as any in American history, with GNP contracting 24 percent and unemployment more than doubling to 11.7 percent.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.