Over the last two weeks, we began looking at the concept of diversity from a multifaceted perspective.
We stated that “diversity” can take on additional components and qualities other than “race” or “gender” such as:
- Theological Diversity
- Philosophical Diversity
- Geographical & Regional Diversity
In the early colonial period of 1607 to 1700, we saw the development of what has been called our current “Ivy League” level schools (Harvard and Brown Universities) and we saw how “The College of William & Mary” has now become known as a “Public Ivy League” type institution that produced outstanding Presidents such as Thomas Jefferson.
A unique diversity has played a role in the lives of two of the greatest Presidents that our nation has produced: Harry S. Truman and Ronald Wilson Reagan.
The two Presidents mentioned above, Presidents Truman, and Reagan are each ranked as “Near-Great” by the majority of both Conservative and Liberal historians, lawyers, and political scientists.
The two former Presidents came from diverse backgrounds and from a variety of family and work experiences.
President Truman hailed from the great state of Missouri. Mr. Truman grew up in a family that farmed. Furthermore, Harry Truman spent considerable time in the United States military. Mr. Truman rose to the rank of Captain during World War I where he distinguished himself with superb leadership in the European War Theater. After the war, President Truman continued to server in the Army Reserves eventually rising to the rank of Colonel.
Mr. Truman was a former haberdasher; farmer, county judge, United States Senator and he even completed two years of law school. Mr. Truman was the last President who did not have a college degree. (The Governor Scott Walker team should take courage as he is often assailed for not having a college degree; President Truman achieved splendid Presidential greatness – Smile!).
Harry Truman’s Presidential accomplishments were breathtaking. He successfully navigated our nation through the end of World War II leading our nation to victory over Germany and Japan; he formulated the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – and he was the architect of The Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe.
Furthermore, even though Mr. Truman’s roots were heavily influenced by a Pro-Confederacy background – he was the first President in the modern era who saw the need to break through the crust of “racial animus and discrimination” and treat Negroes (today we are called Black-American) with dignity and respect. Truman desegregated the United States Military in 1948 and in 1947 he became the first sitting President to actually personally address a convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Mr. Truman was a Southern Baptist who grew and who recognized the modern state of Israel as a nation in 1948. Men and Women who embrace Judeo-Christian values will be forever grateful to the foresight and spiritual acumen of the 33rd President of The United States.
Wow, these accomplishments are not bad for a man who never completed college. It was said that President Truman was a self-taught man of tremendous learning and erudition.
Finally, let us look at the former “actor” who became the 40th President of the United States: Mr. Ronald Wilson Reagan.
President Reagan was born into a modest home in the great state of Illinois. He was a child blessed with poor eyesight, but with excellent communication skills; he was known as being somewhat shy and diffident during his formative years.
Ronald Reagan shocked his family when in the late 1920s he enrolled at Eureka College (a school founded by the Christian “Disciples-of-Christ” denomination). At Eureka, Mr. Reagan earned three Varsity letter in football and during the summer months while at Eureka he was credited with saving as many as 77 people from drowning as he worked as a lifeguard.
In the essence of full disclosure it must be noted that Ronald Reagan voted for Franklin Roosevelt not once or twice, but 4 times in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944 respectively. Mr. Reagan grew up as a working class New Deal Democrat.
However, Mr. Reagan’s political philosophy evolved and changed as he grew older and as he left the world of acting (he was President of the Hollywood Screen Actors guild for nine years in the 1940s) and moved on to become a corporate spokesman for General Electric (GE) in the 1950s.
It was during the “Eisenhower years” of 1953 to 1960 that Mr. Reagan began to read widely in the areas of Political Science, Economics, and American History as he traveled by train across our great country working for GE.
This writer finds it funny that Mr. Reagan’s critics often laughed at him and even used ad hominem arguments to attack his person and label him an “amiable dunce” instead of honestly addressing the policy positions that he put forth.
Ronald Reagan left the world of GE and “Death Valley” and ran for the Governorship of California in 1966. Mr. Reagan shocked the nation by winning the Governor’s race against the very popular incumbent Governor Pat Brown.
While Governor of California, Mr. Reagan was known for growing from a relatively ineffective first term to developing a robust plan for governing that led to increased revenues for the State of California, a magnificent Welfare Reform bill signed into law in 1971.
When Governor Reagan won the Presidency in 1980 by defeating former President Jimmy Carter, he inherited a nation that had an 8% unemployment rate; an inflation rate of 13.3%; a Prime Interest Rate of 18% – and an Iranian hostage crisis which saw many men and women held in captivity for 444 days!
The confidence of the American people was shattered as in the previous ten years the country witnessed a terrible end of The Vietnam War (1973); the disgraceful resignation of an American President (Richard Nixon) after The Watergate Scandal – and a decade of stagflation (high inflation and high unemployment).
The newly installed President articulated that “Government is not the solution, but that Big Government is the Problem!”
Many of Mr. Reagan’s critics argued that President Franklin Roosevelt showed that the Keynesian economic model of Government stimulus outperformed the Classical free market economic model of Adam Smith – and most recently Dr. Milton Friedman.
President Reagan was undeterred by his critics.
The President pushed forward across the board Tax Cuts; he raised Defense Spending; he slowed down the rate of the domestic programs; it is a popular myth that President Reagan actually cut federal programs; a case in point is that President Reagan attempted to eliminate the Department of Education and merge it back with the Department of Health and Human Services as it was when it was known as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare or HEW.
(President Reagan could not get one Republican in either the House or the Senate to go along with this plan so it was scrapped.)
What were the results of President Reagan’s bold initiatives?
Here is a snapshot of some of President Reagan accomplishments as he left office in January of 1989:
- Social conservatives were no longer marginalized; President Reagan was an articulate spokesman of the Pro-Life position;
- Inflation was reduced to a mere 3%!
- The unemployment rate was around 4%!
- Real immigration reform took place in 1986 (this was the last comprehensive immigration reform embarked upon our nation).
- The first real reduction in “nuclear weaponry” was negotiated in 1987; this is known as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.
This writer guesses that perhaps more “amiable dunces” need to occupy the Executive mansion on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.