An Empire of Ideals

The Chimeric Imagination of Ronald Reagan

Justin D. Garrison,

An Empire of Ideals: The Chimeric Imagination of Ronald Reagan
 
 

Justin D. Garrison provides an original and groundbreaking analysis of Ronald Reagan’s imagination as it was expressed mainly in his presidential speeches. He argues that the predominant strain of Reagan’s imagination is "chimeric," that is, imbued with a high degree of optimism, romantic dreaminess, naiveté, and illusion. 

Reagan spoke often about religion, democracy, freedom, conservatism, progress, America’s role in the world, the American people, the American Founding, and peace. These are for him important symbols, which together express his general vision of politics and human existence.  These symbols have to be analyzed in depth in order to understand who Reagan really was and what he represented to his admirers.  The book concludes that Reagan’s vision contains many dubious elements that present dangers for practical politics and claims that the popularity of Reagan’s imagination among Americans suggests a problematic self-understanding.

Surpassing, existing works on Reagan’s ideas and speeches, this book systematically explains the general quality and major components of Reagan’s vision, and it draws upon political theory, aesthetics, and American political thought to analyze his imagination.



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