02.16.2011 2

ACORN Activists Denounced Reaganomics and Organized Elaborate Protests that Invoked 1930s Depression Prior to 1982 Mid-Term Elections

By Kevin Mooney — While the nation was still mired in a deep recession, self-described community activists staged elaborate protests against President Reagan’s policies in the early 1980s a Nexis search reveals. On the anniversary of his 100th birthday, Reagan is widely credited and praised for re-energizing the economy and reversing the “malaise” of the 1970s.

But just before the mid-term elections in 1982, history appeared to have turned in the other direction. Reagan’s popularity had plummeted in response to persistent unemployment, which also opened the way for Democratic gains in the House and Senate.

The recessionary climate also gave rise to liberal activists who drew a comparison between Reagan’s policies and those of Herbert Hoover, the former Republican president who was voted out of office during The Great Depression of the 1930s. An organization known as “The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now” (ACORN) joined with organized labor and other left-leaning groups to set up “tent communities” in urban settings that were derisively described as “Reagan Ranches.” As the Great Depression accelerated in the 1930s, tent cities known as “Hoovervilles” were established to accommodate urban residents mired in poverty.

At the time, ACORN claimed 60,000 members in 26 states, according to an Associated Press report. Although it was founded in Arkansas just over 40 years ago, ACORN is now headquartered in New Orleans.  In the aftermath of on-going voter registration fraud investigations and a videotape scandal that called attention to questionable financial practices, ACORN officials have rebranded several national and state affiliates under new, generic sounding community organizer names. The ACORN network remains “active,” in New Orleans to this idea, but several affiliates are listed as “Not in Good Standing,” according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

The city served as a major platform for anti-Reagan demonstrations in the run up to the 1982 elections that ACORN officials organized. About 20 tents were set up along Interstate 10 ramps in New Orleans where a “Nancy Reagan Fashion Show for the Depression-Minded,” an AP report said.

Despite his mid-term setbacks, Reagan oversaw a dramatic economic turnaround that helped fuel a 49 state landslide two years later. Double digit inflation was eliminated, interest rates were cut in half and millions of new jobs were created in what turned into the longest peacetime economic expansion in history.

The history here is worth recalling as it is now evident that “Reaganomics” did more to lift people out of poverty than liberal activists who misappropriated funds and embezzling from their own membership.

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