Proponent and Opponent Viewpoints

Updated: 3/26/2021
Proponent and Opponent Viewpoints
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Ronald Regan Presidency Lesson Plans

1980s America: The Ronald Reagan Presidency

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

Ronald Reagan was an iconic and controversial president during the twilight of the Cold War. Over the course of a decade, “The Great Communicator” was pivotal in the fall of the Soviet Union and a powerful force in realigning American politics towards conservative ideas. The impacts of his presidency remain in the news today; Reagan continues to be praised as a conservative hero, but is criticized for the long term impact of his social and economic policies.

Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Storyboard Description

Reagan Presidency - Proponent and Opponent Viewpoints

Storyboard Text

  • PROFIT INCREASE 1984:235%
  • Proponents of Reagan argue that under him, the economy did well. With major tax cuts and deregulation of federal programs, many Americans experienced economic upswings. Despite recession in his early years, the economy rebounded, unemployment was down, and confidence was restored in the stock market. The number of millionaires also exploded in the 1980s.
  • Where's MY opportunity?
  • Time to make money!
  • R & C BANK
  • Proponents of Reagan praise him for his candor and restoration of nationalism amongst Americans. From his motivating speeches, to his consolation of the people after disasters like the Challenger explosion, many saw Reagan as a strong leader. Furthermore, proponents credit Reagan with his dealing of the AIDS epidemic, and attention to issues like drug abuse.
  • Proponents praise Reagan and his many successes in terms of his foreign policy. His handling of relations with the Soviet Union stand out the most, as he and Soviet leader Gorbachev formed a mutual, respectful relationship. In addition, Reagan also initiated major legislation concerning nuclear weapons with his INF Treaty that helped destroy over 2,500 American and Soviet missiles.
  • Proponents of Reagan argue that he extended voting to many previously disenfranchised voters, particularly the African American community. In addition to this, Reagan proponents claim his support of women's rights, along with his appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman on the Supreme Court, are undeniable.
  • Disenfranchisement is WRONG! Extend the ACT!
  • X
  • Opponents of Reagan argue that his side-supply economics and heavy military spending actually crippled the economy. Upon Reagan leaving office, the economy would enter another recession, and the national deficit had increased from $80 billion in 1980 to a peak of $221 billion in 1986. Furthermore, opponents note that Reagan's economic initiatives benefited mostly the wealthy, while the poor suffered tremendously.
  • Yes indeed!!
  • Opponents of Reagan's domestic initiatives argue that simply put, he did not do enough. This is evident in his initial opposition to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as his extremely staunch conservative views, which was seen as hindering the social welfare of many. Furthermore, his economic and welfare policies furthered the wealth gap. Opponents claim he was weak on civil rights and issues of equality.
  • Opponents of Reagan argued that, while he did experience success with his Soviet relations, he failed in others. The Iran-Contra Affair alone prompted some to call for his impeachment, despite Reagan claiming no knowledge of the situation. In addition to this, opponents claim attacks, such as that in Lebanon, are in part due to Reagan's poor handling of foreign affairs, especially in the Middle East.
  • Many critics of Reagan cite his inability to address the many pressing social and civil rights issues of the 1980s. From gay rights to African American rights, opponents of Reagan argue he did not do enough. In particular, they point out his initial opposition to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday becoming a national holiday, as well as his initial blocking of the extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The increasing wealth gap, some argue, is a testament to his ignorance of social issues.