What do you think is Ronald Reagan's legacy?

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This week's cover story focuses on the letters of Ronald Reagan, a two-term president who unquestionably had great short-term and long-term influence on America in the 1980s and beyond. Like with all presidents, the merit of that influence is a hot topic for debate among political junkies. And so we ask you, What do you think is Ronald Reagan's legacy? Was his presidency great for America, was it a time of regret, or does it fall somewhere in the middle?

Please limit your response to 80 words or less. The best entries reflecting the diversity of opinions expressed will be published on TIME.com throughout the week.

Some of your responses so far:

As the first president of weak intellect and little grasp of the issues, Reagan prepared the way for George W. Bush. Having a moron for president allows Americans to watch sporting events and ignore political issues with a good conscience. That is Reagan's legacy.
Alan Rutkowski
Edmonton, Canada

President Reagan was one of the greatest presidents this country has had. He gave us our confidence back after Jimmy Carter's malaise years. He loved this country and made us proud to call ourselves Americans. He wasn't afraid to do the right things, the tough things. He brought down the evil empire. I miss him greatly.
Kevin Warner
Orem, Utah

President Reagan's legacy includes the defeat of the Soviet Union and the enduring optimism he saw in the American people. This was a president who knew if the government would get out of the way of the American people, they will lead the way. To see revisionists of his presidency continue to try to deny his success is laughable. Tax cuts imposed by him led to an unprecedented upsurge of economic growth. If the Congress had gone along with his recommended budgets it would have lasted longer.
Steve Hill

Reagan's spend, spend, spend economic policies drove the country into a catastrophic debt that our great grandchild's grandchildren will not be able to pay off. His mental state was such that he should have been removed from office long before his term was up.
A. Lashway
Northampton, Ma.

Ronald Reagan inherited a U.S. military that had been decimated by the vast cuts under the Carter Administration. America would not have been able to sustain the military operations we now support without Reagan's rebuilding efforts. The largest military pay raise in history was signed by him. He believed in a strong America and backed that doing what needed to be done to make us safe. Bin-Laden would not have come at us with Reagan in office.
Msgt. Ron Axley
Indianapolis, In.

Ronald Reagan, In my opinion did more damage to this country than good. His ineptitude and his lack of intelligence created a weak and floundering economy along with major deficits. Mr. Reagan's foreign policy fostered hate for America, his incompetence triggered many of today's problems with the international community. All in all his presidency should be defined as "disastrous."
John McSween

A visionary who, along with his administration, saw an opportunity to defeat the USSR without going to war and acted upon it. The irony is the fallout of his actions helped to propel the United States into a growth spurt in the 1990's which many people dont realize he is responsible for.
R. Morris
Melville, N.Y.

He had a great way of making me feel like an outsider. I will always remember how he preached family values, yet was a divorcee, and had awkward relationships with his own children. I remember how AIDS was ignored. Not much of a legacy as far as I am concerned.
Earle Dardar

Along with Margaret Thatcher in England, Ronald Reagan was very much responsible for the polarization of political discourse in the U. S. It has encouraged people to have stronger and stronger opinions with less and less information to support those opinions. It lead to, among other things, the awful state of television "news" programming.
Karen Moffat
Portland, Ore.

Reagan was the ultimate feel-good president. He was part president and part Tony Robbins. He left us with the hangover of a double martini on an empty stomach, but ? when we where drinking ? man it was great.
Jason Jepson
Huntington Beach, Calif.

I believe Ronald Reagan's legacy is steadfastness. He didn't waver, didn't equivocate. Each and every American who voted for President Reagan, be they a Reagan democrat, blue- or white-collar, religious or not, whatever their affiliation, knew what they were voting for. I voted for President Reagan twice.
Bill Clark
New Jersey

What legacy? He gets credit for finishing off the U.S.S.R. when reality is that it was already crumbling to the ground. By the time of Reagan, the "evil empire" had long been a paper tiger. He told lies but with such acting skill that he got away with it. In fact, the presidency was the best role he ever got. He was taking a nap when his administration pulled off the money heist with Iran-Contra. Didn't know a thing about it. Gave us enormous debt to carry.
Beverly Petrilli
North East, Md.

I think his strenghts were; charisma, charm, ability to play the role of president. His weaknesses: lack of knowledge about the world outside the USA ? hence relying too heavily on his advisors. His sometimes embarrassing geography mistakes made the outside world lose respect for both him and the U.S.
Roy Risrem

Reagan's legacy will be defined by his administration's tough talk but total lack of controlled spending with spiraling deficits at the Federal level only to provide corporate welfare for the California defense industries. It's truly ironic the conservatives claim to honor him by naming objects after him, e.g. an airport, a building, & a USN carrier. By itself, it does not mean anything. He took advantage of President Carter's candor and honesty and then led the country through a period of "fake prosperity" where rich and poor became even more disparate. The success of the Clinton administration reversing the deficits made this painfully obvious.
P. Lo Presti
Ashburn, Va.

Ronald Reagan's most fundamental legacy is the winning of the Cold War. He utterly destroyed communism as a legitimate ideology by forcing recognition of its complete bankruptcy in terms of human decency, human rights and economic vitality. Reagan also dramatically retarded the increasing centralization of American government and regulation of business by dropping tax rates and producing an economic and technical boom which lasted until the Clinton tax increases finally snuffed it out. Reagan also restored pride in being an American.
Dan C. Lathrop
New Mexico

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