Ronald Reagan

analytical Essay
1935 words
1935 words

Reckoning with Reagan:

Ronald Reagan was more than a president. He was a phenomenon. Since he left office in 1989, many authors have tried to effectively identify who this man really was. He was an icon to some, and an enigma to others. He stood up to the worst economic, domestic, and international threats of the time and yet, took naps in the middle of cabinet meetings. At the height of his popularity in 1986, he had, as Time magazine put it, “found America's sweet spot. “ Reagan had ideals of what he felt America should be like, and made it his number one goal to share his unrelenting optimism with every person in the country. He pledged to bring Americans a “little good news.” and created a strong bond with the public. Throughout his eight years in office, he continually motivated and energized his supporters while at the same time, confounded and mystified his detractors. Reagan stood tall among the thirty-nine presidents that preceded him, and was one of the most popular leaders of the twentieth century. In his book, Reckoning with Reagan, Schaller attempted to reconcile the facts and myths that surrounded Reagan during his entrance into public service, his back to back terms as governor of California, and his eight years as President of the United States. Although, he briefly outlined Reagan's earlier years as a Hollywood actor, corporate spokesperson and motivational speaker, Schaller concentrates on the presidency and how Reagan impacted America to such a degree, that it would be felt for years to come. And for the first time since Kennedy, an era would be defined by a single man: Ronald Reagan.

Though he would stop short of saying that he was born in a log cabin, Ronald Reagan grew up in humble beginnings. The son of an alcoholic father whom couldn't hold down a job and a religious mother, Reagan was encouraged at an early age by his mother to act in school plays. An activity in which the young Reagan showed much promise. Because of a difficult home life, Reagan created a distance between the reality of his troubled surroundings and the fantasy of how things should be. Many believed that such mental redirection at this early age played a big role in his vision and ideals for America years later.

After he graduated high school in 1932, Reagan went to wor...

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...le of a charasmatic leader in that he remained above the fray. That ability was not so much due to his personal political saavy, but rather, the public's refusal to allow him to be portrayed in any negative light, similar to a famous movie star or professional athelete caught in a compromising situation that would spell disaster for the average citizen. Instead of public outrage, the celebrity is met with sympathy and understanding as well as an odd public comdemnation of his or her accusors. As Schaefer charasmatic authority, he defined Reagan. “Charasmatic authority is derived more from the beliefs of followers than from the actual qualities of leaders. So long as people perceive a leader as having qualities setting him or her apart from ordinary citizens, that leader's authority will remain secure and often unquestioned.” (p. 431).


Shaller, Michael. Reckoning with Reagan: America and Its President in the 1980s. Oxford University Press: New York, 1992.

Shaefer, Richard T. Sociology, Eighth Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York, 2003

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how schaller's book, reckoning with reagan, focuses on the presidency and how reagan impacted america to such a degree that it would be felt for years to come
  • Analyzes how schaefer characterized charasmatic authority as power made legitimate by a leader's exceptional personal or emotional appeal to his or her followers.
  • Explains shaller, michael, reckoning with reagan: america and its president in the 1980s.
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