The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Ronald Reagan was a Bad President

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,123 times Debate No: 84356
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




I think Ronald Reagan was a Bad President

Ronald Reagan- 40th president in the US

Bad- Not good for America

R4-Conclusion (No new arguments)

Burden Of Proof is on me! Con will try to refute my claims

No sematics or trolling


I accept this debate challenge and look forward to an interesting discussion.
Debate Round No. 1


Ronald Reagan was a ignorant, hypocritical president who neglected the needs of the many for the needs of the few. But for the sake of time lets just count down his worst traits as president.

He was ignorant: (

Ill just give a few quotes from people around him and from the man himself the get us a good impression on his intellect.

"They told stories about how inattentive and inept the President was.... They said he wouldn't come to work--all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence."
--Jim Cannon (an aide to Howard Baker) reporting what Reagan's underlings told him, Landslide: The Unmaking of the President: 1984-88

Reagan's only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he'd watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from WarGames, the movie. That was his only contribution."
--Lee Hamilton (Representative from Indiana) interviewed by Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years

Poor dear, there's nothing between his ears."
--British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"
--Ronald Reagan (Governor of California), quoted in the Sacramento Bee, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park, March 3, 1966

"I don't believe a tree is a tree and if you've seen one you've seen them all."
--Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, September 14, 1966

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."
--Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980. (In reality, the average nuclear reactor generates 30 tons of radioactive waste per year.)

"...the moral equal of our Founding Fathers."
--President Reagan, describing the Nicaraguan contras, March 1, 1985

"I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
--Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1966

Now that's done on to the meat of the issue

His foreign policy was terrible:

Ronald Reagan helped support the Contras who murdered mass amount of civilians and wanted to restablish a dictatorship in Nicaragua.

He created Al-Quedia by arming and training the Mujahideen in retalitation against the Soviets.

Ronald Regan also supported the Apartheid government in South Africa. Congress tried to pass the Anti-Apartheid Act in order to get South Africa to stop its suppression of votes. Ronald Reagan vetoed that bill.

He supported Manuel Noriega (Panama), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Ferdinand Marcos (Phillipines) and supported the brutal El Savador Regime.

When 4 American nuns were raped and killed by El Salvadorian soldiers the Regan Administration said that maybe they were trying to block military vehicles.

His Adminstration was extremely corrupt:

At least 138 Reagan officials were indicted of felonies. However of course Ronald Reagan pardoned them.

Secretary of the Interior, James Watt "Indicted on 21 felonies
"Attorney General, Edwin Meese "Resigned after investigations of corruption
"Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger"Charged with Iran-Contra crimes and pardoned before going to trial
"Assistant Secretary of State, Elliot Abrams - Plea bargained for Iran-Contra crimes and pardoned by President Bush
"Two National Security Advisors, Robert MacFarlane and John Poindexter"Pleaded guilty to Iran-Contra crimes and were pardoned
"Three high ranking CIA officials, Alan Fiers, Clair George and Joseph Fernandez "Convicted and pardoned for Iran-Contra crimes
"At least 9 Reagan appointees were convicted of perjury, lying to Congress, obstruction of Congress, or contempt of Congress


He is just a plain liar:

Ronald Reagan told bald-faced lies all the time

He once said he was a photographer assigned to a concentration camp: Proved Wrong

He once said he knew a woman who had 80 aliases in order to rig the welfare system: Never Proven

Claimed that trees cause more pollution than automobiles: I don't think I need to say anything to prove that's just plain stupid.Reagan babbled on and on about the world having freedom but if any democratically elected government was communist

He was a hypocritical person:

After critizing Jimmy Carter's 50 billion deficit Ronald Reagan went on to create a 200 billion dollar deficit.

he would support the dictatorship alternative. This is clearly evident in Nicaragua and El Salvador
His economical person.

The Economy:

Ronald Reagan's Trickle Down economic plan was a complete disaster.

The whole premise was that if you feed the richer more somehow you will get more breadcrumbs.

After Ronald Reagan's economic plan came into effect unemployment rose from 7.5 to 10.8 percent. (

Nearly 1/3 of all farms in the U.S faced the risk of foreclosure because of the Reagan Trickle Down plan.

This also led to the utter collapse of the savings and loans industry costing tax payers a whopping 150 billion dollars.

Thanks for the acceptance Con!

Vote PRO!

Sources: (Much of what I covered came from here)


To provide a quick roadmap I'll first go over my own constructive case and then move on to my opponents side of the flow.

Before we discuss if Ronald Reagan was a bad president or not, it is most appropriate to clarify a few things:

First in the Negative world we will be determining who is and isn't a bad president through relative terms, so to prove that Ronald Reagan was a bad president, Aff would have to prove he was, on balance comparatively worse than the average president. So for my side of the flow:

Contention One: Relatively, Ronald Reagan was the Best US President

Since my opponents only standard for a "bad president" is one that is bad for America (via his own definition), and we can only relatively determine if a president was good or not, Ronald Reagan was not only NOT a bad president, but he was in fact by a relative standard the greatest president we've ever had. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, 19% of Americans thought Reagan was the greatest President we've ever had, where he even came before presidents such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and JFK. Therefore, relatively Ronald Reagan is the best U.S President

Contention Two: Ronald Reagan Ended the Cold War

Ronald Reagan played a huge part in ending one of the world's most deadly conflicts by being a great statesman and pragmatist. In fact, according to a traditionally center left source, The Brookings Institution, Ronald Reagan's attitude towards Gorbachev and his policy of being a hardened cold warrior to the public but privately being open to negotiation and correspondence with Mikhail Gorbachev was instrumental in ending the Cold War. This alone would be enough to conclude that on balance, he was a not a bad president considering the Cold War was the paramount foreign policy issue of the last half of the 20th century for the United States.

Contention Three: Economy

Not only did Reagan reverse the horrendous monetary policies of his predecessors, he significantly improved the economy throughout the duration of his presidency. After a rapid increase in unemployment in the first two years of his presidency (undoubtedly due to the policies of his predecessor), unemployment began plummeting from peaking at around 10% to roughly 5% by the end of his presidency. In fact according to Forbes, Reagan oversaw the best peacetime economic recovery in American history, where he also cut inflation in half by increasing interest rates, tripled the value of the stock market, and increased real per capita disposable income by 18%, effectively refuting pretty much any claim the Affirmative could make that he harmed the economy on balance

Moving to my opponent's side of the flow:


There is no real indicator that intelligence positively contributes to a president's performance, in fact this would go directly against my opponent's own definition of a "bad president" where he said it is a president that is "not good for america". My opponent provides no warrant for why a lack of intelligence is "bad for america" and even if he does later provide this link, hold him to a higher evidentiary standard than a few quotes he pulled from god knows where. With that said, there were plenty of presidents that were on the lower tier of intelligence relative to other US presidents that were highly regarded, including Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, LBJ, and George Washington.

Foreign Policy:

First cross apply my earlier point about foreign policy, now lets move to his side of the flow for this issue:

Contras: My opponent presupposes that there was a morally superior side in this issue without realizing that both sides committed human rights abuses and that the FSLN still carried out mass property confiscation.

Allegation of Creating Al-Qaeda: There is no substantiated evidence that the arming of the Afghan Muhjahideen created Al-Qaeda, as Osama Bin Laden said himself "the collapse of the Soviet Union ... goes to God and the mujahideen in Afghanistan ... the US had no mentionable role," but "collapse made the US more haughty and arrogant." And the first US journalist to interview Bin Laden said on CNN "The story about bin Laden and the CIA " that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden " is simply a folk myth. There's no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn't have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn't have needed to. Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently. The real story here is the CIA did not understand who Osama was until 1996, when they set up a unit to really start tracking him."

Apartheid: No offense but this is complete intellectual dishonesty here as even though Reagan vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, he implemented his own set of sanctions and just believed the act to be outside the scope of the powers of congress. If my opponent wants to extend this argument at least acknowledge it is a more nuanced issue than you at first claimed.

Alleged support of other regimes: Reagan later retracted his support of Noriega and the next President (his own Vice President) invaded Panama to depose Noriega. The US offered minimal support to Iraq beause of Iran's illegal move to close off the strait of Hormuz, one of the most important shipping areas in the world, and due to Iran's general hostility to the United States. President Jimmy Carter also supported and aided Ferdinand Marcos, and my opponent provides no warrant as to why Marcos was not worthy of US support. Additionally, it was in large part due to Reagan that El Salvador went from a dictatorship to a Democracy, due to Reagan threatening to cut off US aid unless the "brutal dictatorship" as my opponent endeavors to call it, made democratic reforms.

My opponents allegations of President Reagan's corruption and lying are non unique since almost every president has had administration officials that had to resign due to a scandal. My opponent also changes the number of corrupt Reagan officials from 138 to 9, so I would be truly curious to know which it is. This argument is also based on my opponents own definition irresolutional since he provides no impact in his argument for why pardoning a few supposedly corrupt officials was bad for america.

Liar: Only one of my opponents allegations of Ronald Reagan lying was supposedly "Proved wrong" (according to who, exactly?), the others were either never proven or in my opponents opinion wrong.

For the following reasons I negate. Back to you Pro.

Debate Round No. 2



1) Just because the majority says something doesn't mean it is necessarily true. Most of the world thought the world was flat. Did that make it true? No. The majority of Americans thought Reagan was great because he cut their taxes. Little did they know that his economic policies hurt the economy.

2) Ronald Reagan did NOT end the cold war. That goes to Sr. George Bush. (

In fact the way Reagan worked to end the Cold War was extremely unethical. He supported uprisings and dictatorships all in the effort to stop communism even if it meant oppressing people. (

3) The economy. It is already proven that Reagan's use of Trickle Down was a failure. Lets look at some charts.

Not only did Ronald Reagan ignore the positive effects of the past economic policies he REVERSED THEM. The bottom 20 percent went into the negatives and the middle class stalled while the rich grew tremendously.

He caused the Saving and Loans industry to fail and many other banks and farms.

He also TRIPLED the deficit. (

4) Intelligence has many things to do with a presidents performance. Ronald Reagan only wanted to "watch movies and tv" and rarely contributed to any press conferences or meetings. His aides reportedly complained that it took a tremendous amount of effort to inform him on many issues. One time a reporter asked about an issue and HIS WIFE had to save him because he wasn't even paying attention to issues.

You talk about many other presidents that were "low-tier" intelligence but you fail to understand that these presidents made an effort to understand the political atmosphere they were in.

5) Contras: My opponent tries to defends the Contras by pointing some of the blame of the problem on the FSLN.

targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination
kidnapping civilians
torturing civilians
executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat
raping women
indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian houses
seizing civilian property
burning civilian houses in captured towns.

These are some of the atrocities committed by the Contras and while the FLSN were not perfect they sure didn't commit these crimes in the same brutality as the Contras did.


6) Without the training and arming of the Muhjadeen the Soviets would have taken over Afganistan. The Muhjadeen at the time were not using modern weapons and were actually using bolt-action rifles.

Reagan then armed them with assault rifles, new sniper rifles, AA rockets and anti tank weapons. This LARGELY assited the Muhjadeen in facing Soviet armor which halted Russian progression significantly in Northern Afghanistan.

I don't understand why you say there is no evidence the CIA trained Al-Quedia.


6) Apartheid

Ronald Reagan vehemently halted any sanctions against South Africa and even called Nelson Mandela's civil rights movement a terrorist organization. His "sanctions" were extremely harmless and didn't even harm South Africa like congress would have.

7) Support of Dictatorships. Whether you like it or not Ronald Reagan supported multiple dictators and kept them in power

He supported Manuel Noriega (Panama), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Ferdinand Marcos (Phillipines) and supported the brutal El Salvador Regime and while he did later retract his support of Noriega he did not retract his support of El Salvador and Philippines regimes.

Jimmy Carter's failures have NOTHING to do with this discussion. One president doing something terrible does not condone something does not condone something of another.

Reagan of course realized his mistakes but it does not condone his initial support of the brutal dictatorships in the first place.

8) Reagan's corruption. Firstly I would like to say I could not fit 138 people with their reasons and not make it repetitive. I added the most important people which were these 9. I gave a link so that people could look at it so yeah.

This is not "NonUnique" as my opponent says. In fact the Reagan administration is the most corrupt administration in American History

Reagan set a wrong example by pardoning people that commited felonies that deserved jail time furthering the idea of corruption in America so of course that was bad for America

9) Do I really need to prove that automobiles pollute more than trees? Really?

The Chicago woman never existed. There is absolutely no proof to show that he knew any women like that whatsoever

And there is no proof he ever visited a concentration camp


All these facts add up to a terrible president. Back to you Con



To provide a quick roadmap, I'll just go over my opponents arguments line by line as he made them

1. Certainly popular opinion isn't good enough on its own, but it would be ridiculous to say it isn't a relevant factor at all. If we entrust the citizenry to elect the president it would also make sense that we listen to their opinions on who the best president was. Also, there is a difference between a matter of fact and a matter of opinion, the shape of the world is a matter of fact, speculation on who the greatest president is is a matter of opinion so extend this argument since a good way to determine matters of opinion is popular opinion.

2. Considering aff ignores my cards showing how Ronald Reagan ended the cold war, extend those and then look to the fact that my opponents own card cites how Reagan was responsible for warming US relations with the Soviet Union and creating an environment that would put us in a strong negotiating position (by improving the economy, as his own article says), in fact my opponents article states that Bush actively discouraged the dissolution of the Soviet Union as he believed it would lead to chaos. cross apply his own source against his economic arguments since through admission of his own source Reagan improved the economy.

3. My opponent oversimplifies this issue and fails to realize that there will always be huge growth after a large war, the first graph is the postwar boom, the second graph represents the boom slowing down. No country has sustained positive economic growth indefinitely. Also, my opponent refuses to acknowledge any of my cards for this so extend, meaning that he directly contradicts himself when he says Ronald Reagan ignored the positive effects of the past economy, since I gave ample evidence as to how Reagan improved the economy. It is recognized by most economists that Reagan pulled us out of a recession and reversed the disastrous inflation imposed by Jimmy Carter. Extend my Forbes analysis where the author says "Real per-capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in just seven years. The poverty rate declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak." (end quote) while it is true that Reagan increased the deficit, some spending is necessary to stimulate the economy and deficit is not positively correlated with economic strength or growth.

4. My opponent doesn't cite anything for #4, but even if he does unless it came from an objective source that dealt with him on a day to day basis, I wouldn't say its a fair analysis.

5. The source my opponent cites has been commonly criticized as being biased and giving too much credence to accusations that weren't substantiated, as a WSJ reporter writes: U.S. news media published several articles accusing Americas Watch and other bodies of ideological bias and unreliable reporting. It alleged that Americas Watch gave too much credence to alleged Contra abuses and systematically tried to discredit Nicaraguan human rights groups such as the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, which blamed the major human rights abuses on the Sandinistas.[77]
In 1985, the Wall Street Journal reported:
Three weeks ago, Americas Watch issued a report on human rights abuses in Nicaragua. One member of the Permanent Commission for Human Rights commented on the Americas Watch report and its chief investigator Juan Mendez: "The Sandinistas are laying the groundwork for a totalitarian society here and yet all Mendez wanted to hear about were abuses by the contras. How can we get people in the U.S. to see what's happening here when so many of the groups who come down are pro-Sandinista?"[78]" Additionally, according to an analysis by Rudolph Rummel, the Contras killed only about 500 civilians while the Sandinista killed in excess of 4,000.

6. Cross apply my sources on the Al Qaeda where Osama Bin Laden himself admits that the US had "no mentionable role" in the collapse of the Soviet Union. And all who have had close contact with Bin Laden mirror these sentiments. To reply to your source, that is conflating US aid of indigenous afghan Muhjahideen with foreign Mujahideen, two key differences as Afghan Muhjahideen never went on to be terrorists on a large scale. Also look to the fact that the sources were sparsely cited.

7. (Apartheid) My opponent blatantly distorts the truth since at one time Mandela's organization was a violent terror group, whether their cause was just or not this remains true. Also there were allegations that his sanctions were too weak but my opponent provides no warrant for that, he was against congress imposing stronger sanctions since he believed it infringed upon his power to conduct foreign policy.

7. (Dictatorships) my opponent drops the El Salvador argument since all he does is repeat himself and only repeats himself on the Marcos argument, where Marcos was considered a "soft dictator" and treated his people with dignity and afforded them individual rights. Simply being a dictatorship isn't a warrant for not giving aid to a nation if they further our national security interests. On Noriega, he did what was right based on the information he had at the time, he couldn't predict what Noriega would eventually turn in to.

8. Not going to refute 138 allegations but I already replied to the 9 allegations. My opponent states that Reagan was wrong for pardoning corrupt officials and that my challenge to his argument being non unique is invalid by providing an extremely biased source on Reagan's "corruption. Lets take a look at one of the examples they gave Reagan, dodging reporters questions in 1985 : "They turned out the lights. That tells me I can't talk anymore." " They are alleging he was corrupt for not answering a reporters question after the lights were turned out in the room. Obviously this is a partisan site and their work shows. Lastly my opponent claims Reagan "furthered the idea of corruption" in America, I'll leave the voters to decide on this issue since there is no warrant for that claim and therefore no way I could refute it.

9) You don't have to but someone can be wrong without being a liar

Just because there is no proof she existed doesn't mean she didn't, as you say we don't know if she did or not.

Cross apply the concentration camp allegation with the above logic

For the voters, dropped arguments:

Contention Three: All cards dropped (although he did address the tagline of the contention)

Debate Round No. 3


Since we cannot add new info (Sources and arguments as such) I will just conclude by looking at your arguments

1. Popular opinion is of course important but we talking about whether Reagan was good or not as a US president. This requires looking at facts rather than the emotional aspect of a presidency. Hitler had overwhelmingly support even though he started another world war! The facts are that the Reagan administration was extremely flawed and it was fiscally irresponsible.

2. Ronald Reagan, again, did not end the cold war. George Sr. Bush did as ive already said

Ronald Reagan angered the Soviets MULTIPLE times. Creating the Star Wars Program was one of those angers. He almost started another world war. At worst he may have started a nuclear war. Just because it ended up okay doesn't justify the initial action because the coin flip was too risky.

And no, I did not concede that Reagan did well on the economy. He did terribly on the economy and as ive said in past rounds he tripled the deficit and raised unemployment from 7.5 to 10.8.

And remember retracting support from dictatorships doesn't make you a better person if you helped them in the first place :)

And most economist have denounced trickle down as a failure design.

Forbes btw is not a reliable source

My citations for number 4 are in my sources

Support for Contras (that murdered more than the FSJN ever has) is like support for Al-Quedia to overthrow Hussein Dictatorship. It really.

And like ive said in round 3 Osama bin not a credible source. Shocker?

Reagan still vetoed the anti-apartheid bill for no reason

El-Salavador (Like ive stated in round 3) raped American nuns and still had no punishment

You haven't refuted 8

And since I cant really address number 9 without bringing up new arguments its completely ludicrous to believe someone without proof. I am sitting on a unicorn right now. I am. Proof? No screw that I'm sitting on a unicorn and since you cant prove that I'm not and I cant prove I'm sitting on a unicorn.

And yes I did address contention 3

Well that was a nice debate. THanks for debating!


Objectivity forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Objectivity 2 years ago
I apologize for not being able to complete the debate, I have just been busy but since no new arguments are allowed in the final phase of the round it shouldn't have a significant impact anyways.
Posted by Reformist 2 years ago

You don't need to be around the time someone was around to determine morality.

I didn't need to be alive to see Hitler was bad

I didn't need to be alive to see MLK was good
Posted by Reformist 2 years ago
I think you put Pro when you meant to say con


Theres numerous facts that say Reagan was terrible
Posted by Robkwoods 2 years ago
Not really relevant, the history is written and scattered. Depending on who wrote the history the views are spread all over the map; therefore a reasonable debate can be had. Although if you look at the facts, the Pro has a difficult case to make.
Posted by MegadethRocks44 2 years ago
where any of you guys even alive when Reagan was the president?
Posted by Robkwoods 2 years ago
You are talking about 40th president Ronald Reagan right?

This is going to be good. I am going to get some popcorn.
Posted by Reformist 2 years ago
Economy, Foreign Policy that sort of thing
Posted by dsjpk5 2 years ago
Define "not good for America"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Jingle_Bombs 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro defines bad president as "one that is not good for America," Con brilliantly counters with a Gallop poll showing that Reagan polled highest on the "Greatest Presidents" list. Though Pro tries to recover in R3 by saying that the "majority is wrong" and that majority opinion may believe things that are untrue, Con holds his ground by restating the fact that opinion standards (such as Pro's definition of a bad president) must be proved by observing popular opinion. In light of Con's evidence then that suggests the fact that America's opinion is that Reagan was the greatest president ever, Reagan by default cannot possibly meet Pro's definition of a bad president. Pro is awarded a point for completion.