Reagan was actually born in Tampico, Illinois; a small village in the rural north-central part of the state. His parents, Jack Reagan and Nellie Wilson were fairly typical of the working poor of that era: honest, down-to-earth types and people of strong faith. Reagan's nickname 'Dutch' was bestowed on him by his father. Reagan's mother was a devout Christian; and her moral influence stayed with Reagan his whole life. He worked his way through school, in the then-growing field of radio and graduated from Eureka College during the worst season of the Great Depression in 1932.
Nonetheless, Reagan was able to find work in radio and became a fairly popular sportscaster for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. He went to Hollywood in 1937 and had a decent acting career until the early 1950s. Several of his political slogans reflected back on his acting career. One notable one was his '20 Mule Team' campaign. This was from his last role on television commercials as a spokesman for Boraxo Detergent, which used the same motif.
Reagan also joined the California National Guard in 1937---in a cavalry unit, no less. He was called to active duty in 1942, but a medical disqualification prohibited him from serving overseas. He put his media skills to work however, producing training films and other media-related military functions, until 1945 when he was discharged with the rank of Captain.
Reagan served as Governor of California from 1967-1975; was an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1976; but won that post in 1980. Like President Trump today, Reagan inherited a nation in serious need of reform. The situation in 1980 saw runaway hyperinflation, growing unemployment, a population demoralized by Watergate, the Vietnam War, and an increasingly Left-Wing Media aggravating the situation. His predecessor, President Carter, was an unpopular Left-Wing politician. Internationally, there was an embassy takeover in Iran; a belligerent Cuba; growing Jihadism; the unresolved issue of Vietnam War MIAs; and the Soviet Union was running the table in geopolitics over the incompetent Carter.
The one advantage that Reagan had over Trump is the general public in 1980 was not as degenerated and ignorant as it is today. Reagan only had a few years of Neo-Liberalism to reverse: Trump has a few decades. Both faced a hostile media and academia, though it is far worse for Trump. Reagan, though, had the disadvantage of a hostile Congress---which Trump does not have. But in 1980, the Democratic Party was not as radicalized as today; thus Reagan was able to secure bipartisan support occasionally.
Reagan's achievements were phenomenal and predicated on his belief in the American spirit and adherence to the Constitution. He laid the groundwork for the destruction of the USSR; rebuilt our military; chastised Castro and various other foreign troublemakers. Reagan's policy in the Middle East has been criticized; but he was laying the groundwork for a NATO-type alliance there. Unfortunately, his policies were destroyed beyond repair by his successors.
Reagan helped root Communism out of Latin America and our relations with those countries were at their peak during his term. He also established new relations with China, which helped lead that country out of the Maoist Era to a global partner. Again, his successors destroyed most of his good work here.
Domestically, Reagan cut down the arrogant power of the Federal bureaucracy; and cleaned up corruption to a great extent. He brought the Justice Department down on the scourges of the drug problem and spreading religious cults. Reagan nearly wiped out the Moonies and the Scientologists as well as bringing down corrupt televangelists and others.
In 1986, Reagan signed an Amnesty Bill bringing millions of undocumented workers into the legal, taxpaying labor force. Trump would be well-advised to look to that example. The move helped revitalize our agricultural and service sectors.
Reagan was also the last president to spend significant attention on our infrastructure and especially our decaying public education system. Most of his proposals in this sector was blocked by Democratic Party opposition, which then---as now---was heavily funded by teachers' unions. Nonetheless, Reagan laid the groundwork for many subsequent local initiatives.
The career of Ronald Reagan exemplifies well the archetype of Americanism. No sooner had he left office in 1989 than the Neocons and Cultural Marxists set about to undo his great works. But the Reagan Legacy lives on. The struggle for the future of the Republican Party today is between those true to what he built, and those who aren't.
And he Made Jelly-Beans Cool Again Too.