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  • Sam Darling

I call the Reagan Library

Immigrants to a new nation are often the most ardent in their love for their new country and my family was a classic example of the streak of conservatism that runs through newcomers. I think it’s the desire to follow rules and blend that immigrants tend to be conservative in their politics. Radicals are homegrown–safe in their citizenship enough to become critical of their nation.

82 Helene with Reagan painting II

[Helene with a painting she did of Reagan in 1981. Yes, that’s a small painting of me in blond pigtails on the shelf in the background.]

It is then unsurprising that my grandparents were conservative voters despite being socially liberal. My grandparents were surrounded by Republican friends and became supporters of Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. The idea that America is Number One has an undeniable appeal.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 11.28.08

[It’s clear she used a photo of the official portrait to make the painting.]

Even at a young age I was wary of Reagan. In the mock vote we held at my elementary school I was one of the few students who voted down the Democratic ticket. Soon after, I became obsessed with Bloom County, and oh boy, I can’t believe that we’re still goofing on Donald Trump. Enough with that guy already. He’s a terrible businessman and a horrible person. Please stop.

My grandmother was unwell, nearing the end of her life, but she used her talent and then submitted the portrait through the New York State Federation of Republican Women.  The Ladies submitted the portrait to the Reagan Library.

I called the Reagan Library to track the portrait even though contacting them felt weird. But I called to see if her painting was recorded in their gifts registry and was delighted to speak to a fellow nerd. We had a nice chat about the 63,000+ gifts they keep in storage. They tend to exhibit only a few of these items at any one time. Early gifts were not registered by artist name so I was unable to confirm that my grandmother’s painting ended up in their catalog.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 11.02.40

Don’t get me started on Reagan’s legacy. In my opinion most of American’s current problems started with his presidency and the stubborn refusal to face problems, instead living on a dream of American Exceptionalism that never existed.

However, this a library full of nerds in beautiful Simi Valley and I’d happily visit. It’s located just north of Country Club Drive. Naturally.

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