RUSH: Wyatt, Springfield Missouri. Hello, sir. Welcome to the EIB network. Hi.
CALLER: Hi, Rush, it’s an honor to speak to you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: I heard you talk the last couple of days about pessimism in America and how much of it is result of liberalism. And I wanted to ask you what it was like to live in the US when Ronald Reagan was president.
RUSH: How old are you, Wyatt?
CALLER: I’m 17.
RUSH: You’re 17 years old. In 1980 when Ronald Reagan — well, he was not inaugurated until 1981. At the time I was 30 years old, and I was making — this is relevant — I was making $13,000 a year. I was working for the Kansas City Royals in sales and marketing when Reagan was elected. The election of Reagan was a huge triumph. I was in Kansas City in ’76 when the Republican convention was there, and that was uplifting. He ended up losing to Gerald Ford, but it was uplifting as it could be to be in Kansas City in 1976.
Reagan emotionally, intellectually owned that convention, but the Republican establishment had political ownership of it. But when Reagan was inaugurated, the hostages from Iran were released. The Jimmy Carter years of economic malise were vanished in people’s minds attitudinally. And I can tell you that there was in a general sense across the country a great optimism and a sense of renewal.
Those four years of Carter were absolute horror. They were some of the worst economic times that people at that time had ever experienced. They were horrible. And Carter had made them worse by acknowledging how bad it was. He called it the national malise in a speech, and he was telling people that we needed to lower our standards, lower our expectations. That being an American didn’t mean what it used to mean, that we had dwindling resources. It was classic doomsday pessimistic liberalism that they were trying to make the new norm.
Reagan, his campaign and his first years in office was the exact opposite. He was optimistic. He was smiling. He was in a good mood. The thing, if you ask people back then, Wyatt, particularly the first four years of Reagan, you would hear them say, “He makes me proud of my country again.” If that were to happen again today, you couldn’t contain it. There is, I think, a sense of a bit of repetition going on. There is pessimism. It’s like a fog bank has come in and enveloped this country. There’s a sense of pessimism and no way out and that this is the new norm and that the better days are behind us, not ahead of us. Reagan always said the opposite.
If somebody could come along and rejuvenate the American people’s faith in their own country and themselves, you’d be amazed at the overnight change that you would see in people, your neighborhood, when you go to work, when you go to the mall. You would see an overwhelming transformation. Now, you still have ticked off, angry, fatalistic libs. They’re always going to be there. But it was amazing.
Now, let me not forget two things. There was a recession to come. The 1982 recession was absolutely horrible, Wyatt, and it was an extension of the Carter years. And I remember specifically — this time I’m 32 years old and I’m talking to a friend of mine in the movie advertising business. And the prevailing opinion was at that time, “Look, let’s just let it all collapse.” Whatever we were talking about. This bank, this industry, let it collapse. That’s what the message is. It can’t be propped up. Whatever it is, let it collapse, and let’s rebuild it. And, in fact, that’s what happened in many industries, individual companies and industries at large.
Domestic oil business took a big hit in that recession because of plummeting domestic prices. It wasn’t profitable to bring it out of the ground. But we came out of that recession — there were two of them — and we had 500,000 a jobs a month being created, Wyatt. Inflation was reducing as employment increased. People’s income taxes were lowered. They had more money in their back pockets. Now, I don’t mean to make this sound like its own utopia, because while this is going on, the Democrat Party of the day hated Reagan like they hated Bush in your lifetime. There was venom. There was anger. They absolutely despised him, all through the media.
There was resentment that this was working. There was resentment that people were happy. It was vicious. It was vitriolic. But Reagan had a unique ability to make speeches and press conferences and reach people in their hearts without having to go through the media. The media tried to tell people Reagan wasn’t what they felt and thought he was, but he proved them wrong every time he spoke. Reagan really was the unique politician. Not Obama. Reagan was a man of specifics. He had three things that he was going to do, and he did them. And people loved it. Wyatt, that’s pretty much it. I mean, I could spend all day on these questions.