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Comparing the leadership skills of Ronald Reagan vs. Richard Nixon

The American presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan are both similar and distinctive specific to the era of their leadership. One major similarity is their battle against communism but even with a common goal in mind, their individual approaches to a solution vary greatly. The differences between Reagan and Nixon are vast, but it can easily be discerned that Reagan’s approach to the American Economy was far more associated with a “Big Business” agenda than Nixon’s. Ultimately, the leadership of presidents Richard Nixon and Ronal Reagan shared similar goals of Communist-annihilation, but they differ immensely in terms of U.S. economic policies and practices.

The Major similarity between Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan was their goal to destroy the threat of global communism. Richard Nixon became president during the tumultuous Vietnam War and ran on a platform promising to end the war during his presidency, but in reality he secretly prolonged the war hoping to destroy the threat of communists present in that region of Asia. With permission granted from the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Nixon secretly bombed Laos and Cambodia because it was believed that trails of supplies were entering North Vietnam (Module 5 PowerPoint, Narrated). Nixon’s secrets in turn caused the public to distrust the government entirely once his secrets were exposed. This varies greatly Reagan’s approach to communist suppression. Ronald Reagan chose less abrasive tactics to help end the threat of communism such as the Reagan Doctrine, which asserted America’s right to intervene anywhere the soviet had influence by providing aid to groups working to other throw communist-influenced governments (The American Journey p.897). When compared, it would seem that the less aggressive approach was in fact far more effective than the bombing of innocent civilians, due to the fact that Reagan was able to put an end to the cold war, dissolving the soviet union, through peace talks with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev which produced the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (The American Journey p. 900). Although both presidents shared a goal to eradicate the threat of global communism, their different approaches yielded very different results.

In terms of economy, presidents Nixon and Reagan had incredibly different policies and approaches. Ronald Reagan was very pro Big Business, and due to this he in fact decided to cut certain programs that had originated during Nixon’s time as president such as the EPA and OSHA to allow large corporations to produce without so much red tape (The American Journey p. 887). Reagan had hoped to stimulate the economy through these practices but ultimately set it up for failure twenty years later, especially by deregulating the bank system, which essentially allowed banks to use and invest more money than they were receiving (The American Journey p. 888). Reagan’s pro Big Business attitude seems to have been more destructive in the long term.

The economy during Nixon’s presidential era failed for multiple reasons, but the most prominent was the fact that the U.S. government was pouring 3 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money every month into the Vietnam War (Module 6- The Economy- narrated). The Arab Oil Embargo also had a large impact on the U.S. economy when OPEC nations refused to sell oil to the United States for five months, and resulted in a period of stagflation for America (Module 6- The Economy, Narrated). Although Nixon did not contribute much to the American Economy, he definitely had not set it up to crash as intensely as it would ten years after Reagan’s policies had been issued. These acts of leadership for the American economy vary greatly from one another, and are specific for their time.

The similarities between the leadership of these two presidents are a rare find, but their differences are vast. Their policies and the results of their actions are almost polar opposites in most regards, and even though both presidents wished to put an end to the threat of communism, only Reagan had truly been successful.

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