What’s Left: Contra-Dictory Currency



Patrick McHenry, an undersized congressman from the 10th district of North Carolina, recently introduced a measure that would replace the visage of Ulysses S. Grant with that of Ronald Reagan on the fifty-dollar bill.

“President Reagan was a modern day statesman whose presidency transformed our nation’s political and economic thinking,” McHenry said in an official statement released last month, “Through both his domestic and international policies he renewed America’s self confidence, defeated the Soviets and taught us that each generation must provide opportunity for the next.” I’m here to tell you why McHenry is wrong, why we as Americans need to do everything in our power to keep Reagan’s face off of the fifty.

First off, Reagan was a war criminal, never convicted, but a war criminal nonetheless. Under the Reagan Doctrine, the popular name for his policies regarding the Cold War, the U.S. violated every human right known to man in their support of military movements in South America and the Middle East.

In the Iran-Contra affair the U.S. government sold weapons to Iran, which was under a trade embargo at the time and then used that money to fund the Nicaraguan Contra’s in their bloody battle against the ruling political party. Further evidence of the destruction wrought by Reagan’s foreign policy came to light in 1999 when a Guatemalan truth commission issued a report on the 34-year civil war that plagued the country. The commission stated that the “government of the United States, through various agencies including the CIA, provided direct and indirect support for some [of these] state operations.” These state operations were responsible for approximately 626 massacres against Mayan villages, and this is only in one country. The U.S. offered similar support to movements in Panama, Lebanon and Afghanistan as well.

Reagan’s willingness to disregard human rights in the name of battling communism shows a real lack of integrity on his part and is evidence enough to disqualify him from appearing on any form of currency. They called him the Teflon President because he managed to shake any accusations that were thrown in his direction. Just imagine what would happen to Obama if he were involved in anything like the Iran-Contra affair.

One of Reagan’s other nicknames was The Great Communicator. Similar to Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, Reagan had one of those voices that drew people in. He was so likeable; someone you wanted to sit down and have a beer with (remind you of anyone?), and as a result people really bought into what he was saying. It seems to me that what Republicans really miss about Reagan, other than the low taxes, was that sense of certainty he offered the country.

Reagan liked to tell jokes and in August of 1984 at a sound check before his weekly address he said the following: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” This simple story goes a long way in showing why Reagan’s face needs to stay off of our currency. He lacked a certain understanding or appreciation for humanity outside U.S. borders. There is no denying the fact that Reagan did everything in his power to further the interests of the American people, the problem is that he was willing to destroy the rest of the world in doing so. In an increasingly globalized world we need role models who embody the values of the international community. Charisma, charm and imperialistic foreign policy responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people just aren’t enough these days.