Unfortunately, not everything was successful throughout Carter’s administration such as the inflation and interest rates were very high and in efforts to reduce them caused a recession (Frank & Hugh 2006). Most importantly, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused the suspension of the SALT II pact (Frank & Hugh 2006). The capture of the American hostages from the U.S. embassy staff at this along with the economic inflation caused Carter’s defeat in 1980(Frank & Hugh 2006).
According to Jean Kirkpatrick, author of “Dictatorships and Double Standards”, these policies have “alienated non-democratic nations” paving the way for “anti-western opposition groups to come to power in Iran” (1979). After Carter’s term, Ronald Reagan claimed his position as president. Unlike Carter, Reagan’s inaugural address was more pragmatic. In the beginning of his speech Reagan discussed the situation of the country by addressing the economic problems such as high inflation, the current recession and a financial deficit (Reagan 1981). Given these issues, Reagan discusses the role of the government as he believed that “the government is not the solution to our problem; the government is the problem” (Reagan 1981).
Basically, Reagan wanted to extinguish the role of the government and give it back to people (Reagan 1981). Due to the fact the relationship with Soviet Union was getting worse, the hostages in Iran were not freed yet, and the U.S. recently losing the Vietnam war, Reagan wanted to transform the government (Congdon 2017). Reagan despised the elite for having so much control and thus, caused him to have great faith in man as stated in his speech, “I could say ‘you’ and ‘your’ because I am addressing the heroes of whom I speak–you, the citizens of this blessed land…Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration” (Reagan 1981).
Reagan used words like “you”, “your”, “us”, and “we” in his speech because it gave the audience a feeling of being united (Reagan 1981). Reagan believed in the people so much that he called a working man an “American hero” and was trying to inspire the people to revitalize the government and help fix the economy (Congdon 2017).
Next, Reagan believed that freedom was America’s greatest weapon and stated that freedom is not a weapon that U.S. adversaries had and it should be used to its fullest advantage (Reagan 1981). Furthermore, In the end, while looking back the founding fathers of the U.S., Reagan’s speech was primarily passionate about how fortunate America is and how unity is what will help the U.S. defeat its problems (Reagan 1981). Reagan’s address was rhetoric, honest, and encouraging. Subsequently, Reagan was able to achieve the goals he pledged in his address. 444 days after his speech the American hostages in Iran were released due to the support he got of his ideals in freedom (Congdon 2017).
Negatively, one scandal that is widely famous known as the Iran-Contra affair in which the National Security Council was involved in illegal secret weapon transactions in Iran for the release of the American hostages (Mathews 2019). Even though the hostages were freed, it was still illegal to bargain with terrorists and the activities that took place to make the illegal action violated the Boland Amendment which consequently ruined Reagan’s image (Mathews 2019). Furthermore, to continue a positive note, Reagan reduced taxes by 25 percent, reducing inflation, and creating more employment opportunities (Feulner 2015).
Reagan became popular for his economic policies known as Reaganomics (Feulner 2015). He pursued to limit growth of public spending, reduced many regulations, restored the economy and this is what got him elected into office a second time (Feulner 2015). Next, given that the cold war was still taking place and Carter’s détente strategy did not work against the Soviet Union, Reagan decided to take the Soviet Union’s gains and extinguish it (CCE 2012). Because the U.S. in secure position economically and having military power, Reagan chose to challenge the Soviet Union thinking that the SSR is not as strong as they appear to be (CCE 2012). Reagan knew that the economy of the Soviet Union could withstand to keep up with America’s military and technological advances therefore, the Reagan Doctrine was finally formed (CCE 2012).
Reagan wanted to spread the idea of democracy to states abroad and provide them the tools necessary to defend themselves from the Soviet Union (CCE 2012). With a weakened economy from trying to keep up with the pace of the U.S. the collapse of communism took place within Europe (CCE 2012). After two years of Reagan being out of office, the Soviet Union collapsed because it was so weak (CCE 2012). After all, both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had successes and failures. Though they both were idealistic in their own way, they believed in unity, human rights, and power of democracy. They strived, achieved and even failed to do what they pledged to do in their inaugural addresses. At the end of their terms, both Carter and Reagan made significant impacts in the American economy, employment, foreign policy, and most importantly, people’s confidence.