This seminar will examine the challenge Ronald Reagan posed to the modern liberal tradition in America, especially in its Progressive, New Deal, and Great Society forms. The sources and circumstances of Reagan’s political philosophy will be surveyed, along with an assessment of where he succeeded and failed to attain his objectives, and areas where a full verdict is more difficult to reach. The unity of Reagan’s domestic and foreign policy will be explained and analyzed.
The morning session will cover Reagan’s domestic policy, especially his four-part economic policy, but also his initiatives in legal and constitutional reform, family policy, and his attempts to revitalize federalism.
The afternoon session will survey the three phases of Reagan’s foreign policy: the first-term arms buildup and tough diplomacy, followed by a transitional period while Soviet leadership turned over, and culminating in four dramatic summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev that set the stage for the surprising and rapid end of the Cold War. Foreign policy conflicts on the periphery, especially in Central America and the Middle East, will be surveyed, culminating in the Iran-Contra disaster of Reagan’s second term. The changing assessment and legacy of Reagan since his presidency will be surveyed, with an eye especially to the question of what aspects of Reaganism remain salient today, and which have been superseded by post-Cold War circumstances.
Steven Hayward is F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute as well as a member of the Ashbrook Center’s Board of Advisors. He writes on a wide range of public policy issues. He is the coauthor of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators; the producer and host of An Inconvenient Truth… or Convenient Fiction?, a rebuttal to Al Gore’s documentary; and the author of many books on environmental topics. He has written biographies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and of Winston Churchill. Mr. Hayward is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.