The midterm elections this fall will feature young people born in 1992 -- in other words, four years after Ronald Reagan left office. What do they know about this man?
It's quite likely that many of them have been told of Reagan's firm resolve to win the Cold War. But it's also likely they haven't learned about the Reagan budget policies that led to a historic economic recovery. Instead, liberal revisionists are working overtime to assign to the Gipper's tax cut policies the blame for deficits on his watch. Given the disastrous performance of Barack Obama, it's time to give this man a serious look once again.
Young Hollywood director and producer Ray Griggs has made a breezy and yet substantive documentary titled "I Want Your Money" that can educate young voters on the differences between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. Some might say that Griggs is trying to become the conservative Michael Moore, but that would be unfair, since Moore's documentaries often depart from the classification of "nonfiction." When Moore claims health care is better in Cuba than America, or that Iraq before the Iraq War was a placid kite-flying paradise under Saddam Hussein, serious filmmakers run from him.
Griggs is talking about a real, gripping American disaster: our trillion-dollar deficits under Obama and the ever-increasing weight of the national debt. Conservatives in this film are appalled by the loose spending of George W. Bush and Congress over the last decade, and correctly so. But they know Obama is making those deficit years look like a nursery-school exercise in overspending. What's emerging now is tea party anger, of conservatives who've been pushed too hard for too long.
"I Want Your Money" is stuffed with weighty conservative experts -- Steve Moore, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, Ed Meese, Ken Blackwell and more. But perhaps the most affecting visuals are the old clips of Reagan, speaking so clearly about the perils of liberal profligacy. There is Reagan at the convention in Dallas in 1984 joking, "We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors ... because the sailors are spending their own money."It also has a "BS meter," which goes berserk when Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that the Democrats will pass the Obama agenda, including ObamaCare, with "no new deficit spending."
The film not only discusses green-eyeshade budgeting, but the larger philosophical debate between capitalism and socialism. In an animated segment, the Reagan character lectures "Obama" about what kind of productivity you would get in a classroom if everyone was awarded the same grade, no matter how serious the effort: a dramatically reduced work effort from the productive people, while the lazy students would forever be lazy.
It exposes a real contrast between presidents. As experts point out in the film, Reagan used clarity to teach you about the real world. Obama uses eloquence to hide what he's doing because if his real agenda became clear, as it did with ObamaCare, it would be opposed by the majority.
Griggs found a very nice film clip of the late Nobel Prize-winning capitalist economist Milton Friedman speaking to a dark-haired Phil Donahue in 1979. Donahue proclaimed that capitalism was all about greed. Why, Friedman wondered, was it that political self-interest was so much nobler than economic self-interest? A voter born in 1992 has probably never witnessed Friedman's television work, especially his "Free to Choose" documentary series (also in those paper-stuffed things called books). This kind of exposure could cause a rediscovery, just like this year's new interest in Friedrich Hayek's book "Road to Serfdom."
But this campaign to show box-office appeal won't be successful without the same grassroots energy that mobilized the tea party protests. The movie trailer on YouTube has more than 2 million page views. If everyone who watched the trailer would turn out for the whole movie, then theater owners would have no choice but to take notice.
Perhaps, then, Americans will laugh when news anchors (like CNN's Rick Sanchez) try to describe Obama's campaign speeches as "Reaganesque." We can't even find a Republican who has fully earned that grand adjective, and it certainly doesn't fit the socialist blather of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.