Why is Ronald Reagan so praised and revered by American conservatives?

I am going to repost in its entirety a few comments I made on a 'what was it like to live in the eighties' thread from a few moths ago. It is one redditor's experience with living in Reagan's America, both before and after.


I was in my twenties in the 1980's, so I was then, about the age of most Redditors now. More then anything to me, it was an age of cynicism, posturing, greed, and hedonism. And I was right there along for the ride. When Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election, the country was in the depths of a collective national funk. Nobody had any faith in the political institutions of the day, the economy was sputtering, and America's prestige worldwide was at a low ebb. The dreams of both the Great Society and the Woodstock hippies had collided and dashed each other to pieces during the seventies, and the emotional exhaustion was palpable. Nobody had won, and the sense was that the cultural disconnection between the older and younger generation would continue indefinitely and cripple the nation. Reagan, you must remember, was not a heroic-looking figure back at the beginning. If anything, he appeared to be a washed-up second-rate movie star, the oldest elected president ever, and, outside of a fringe group of right-wing zealots, was viewed as a bit of a crackpot and a potentially unreliable hand on the nuclear 'button' during the height of the cold war. Within a couple of short years, Reagan had managed to effectively end an inflationary spiral, and, through a leadership style designed for maximum television exposure, had re-invigorated the American psyche. This, of course, came at a price, although we didn't see it at the time. While I truly believe that Reagan's intent was to exhort people to be industrious and optimistic, the actual result of both his policies and persona was to unleash a wave of young, greedy, amoral Wall Street yuppies, while WWII-era elders were given tacit permission to disengage from economic and political life, and reap in ever-increasing government-sponsored benefits, far in excess of the contributions the put into the system. Elders continued, nominally, to hold the reins of power, and give a veneer of respectability to the process, but younger, less scrupulous, shamelessly ambitious anti-hippies swarmed out of Middle America and into the centers of finance and government, set the cultural tone of recklessness into high gear, and the Reagan Revolution was on.

/r/AskHistorians Thread