The last few ¶ of a piece by Robert Borosage on the mess he left us with.
Family values, the Republican reach to the evangelical right, were cynically used to divide Americans, not unite them, targeting blacks, women (or feminazis in Rush Limbaugh's lingo), and gays. Reagan, steeped in the ways of Hollywood, was the utter cynic. He was the only divorced man to occupy the White House, was at best a distant parent, and generally avoided going to church. While he pandered to the Christian right, he was never very serious about pursuing their agenda.
Today, America is more unequal, its middle class is weaker, its manufacturing sector is hollowed out, its bloated military, laden with baroque weaponry, can start wars but not win them. Under the banner of conservatism, predatory corporate interests -- Big Oil, Big Pharma, Wall Street, global corporations, agribusiness -- have fleeced taxpayers while feathering the nests of the few.
So let's celebrate Ronald Reagan's style. He was a great communicator, an aw shucks American original, a genial optimist. He was a transformational president who launched America on a misguided, 30-year experiment with market fundamentalism. But let's not forget the reality. His race bait politics of division were inherited from the dark side of Nixon. And his conservatism has cost this country dearly.