Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
The Ronald Reagan float won the National Award during the 122nd annual Tournament of Roses Parade presented by Honda on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California
Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan is an American icon that even 22 years after he’s left the White House still dominates the country’s political landscape. His policies, domestic and foreign, are adhered to by both political parties: Bill Clinton, in a Reagan-esque declaration in 1996, said “The era of big government is over,” stealing a page right out of the Gipper’s playbook. Republicans swear by the Reagan tax-cutting doctrine and both parties are embracing the mantle of deficit-cutters, just like Reagan did in his 1981 inaugural address. Reagan’s military buildup of the 1980’s indirectly led to the first Gulf War and his foreign policy of "peace through strength" helped to guide George W. Bush after 9/11/01. But it’s Reagan’s style that has had the most significant lasting power; his sunny disposition and eternal optimism became a prerequisite to run for and be elected to office in this country. “Morning in America” is still the guiding philosophy for political candidates everywhere 30 years later. If he were alive Ronald Reagan would turn 100 on Sunday, and we use the opportunity of his centennial celebration to examine the man, the myth and the legend of America’s 40th, and arguably most influential, president.
Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. His latest book, The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom 1879-1960, was published in January. He is editor of The Reagan Diaries.
William Niskanen, chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1981–1985; chairman emeritus of the CATO Institute
Bill Galston, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and former policy advisor to President Bill Clinton
Ron Reagan, author of My Father at 100; son of President Ronald Reagan & First Lady Nancy Reagan; former host of programs on MSNBC & Air America Radio