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His last inaugural.

President inaugurals have a way of promising more than fate will allow or human endeavor can deliver. Who could have known on January 20, 1961, that John Kennedy's stirring appeal to optimism and his call for sacrifice would end in war, assassination and racial conflict? Twelve years later, Richard Nixon inaugurated his second term with promises of peace, detente and prosperity. No one predicted that the Watergate scandal and the threat of impeachment were imminent.

Reagan's last term begins this week with an extraordinary mixture of hope and fear: hope among his supporters that he will establish a new order of conservative government, an unbridled market economy and an impressive imperial presence; fear among his opponents that he will succeed. Not since Franklin Roosevelt's second term began nearly a half-century ago has such anticipation of readical change in American public life centered on the Presidency.

We may be helpless before before fate, but human endeavor is entirely susceptible to political influence. The left and liberal community, which identified the dangers of Reaganism at the beginning and fought sporadic and often dispirited battles against it over four years, now has a major task ahead of it, as David M. Gordon points out in this issue. Only serious and sustained efforts can organize local constituencies and a national consensus against social inequality, economic aggrandizement, regional division, cultural repression and foreign intervention.

The power and the glory of the Presidency seem overwhelming on Inauguration Day. The parade, the prayers and the galas are meant to convince us that the Reagan Revolution has won. Nothing of the kind. History has a way of breaking the promises of those who believe they have mastered it.

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Title Annotation:Ronald Reagan hasn't won yet
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jan 26, 1985
Words:280
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