Now can we say that Reagan was wrong?
[Full story . . . ](http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A329525)
"Everyone before [Reagan] said that people can't be the authors of their own lives," Purdy says. "The role of government was to create order out of disorder, so that if we can't control these forces alone, we can together. Reagan rejected what was a consensus for most of the 20th century."
Reagan was influenced by economic thinkers such as Milton Friedman and polemicists such as Ayn Rand, but he also believed in a mythical American type previously envisaged by Jefferson and Emerson--rugged, individualist, self-reliant. And though he replaced regulation with a sink-or-swim ideology, it was very inspiring. No president since has dared to say Americans can't do anything.
"Reagan seized the moment," Purdy says of the 1980s, a time when people were still feeling disaffected by Vietnam and soured by the Civil Rights Movement and economic stagflation. "He said we are all free to dictate our own lives. As long as the idea works, it's powerful."
But does it work anymore? And if it doesn't, what ideas will emerge to replace Reagan's politically influential dogma of individualistic freedom?
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