Ronald Reagan’s 27 Sagittarius Ascendant is the source of his seemingly eternal optimism, infectious and disarming, bonhomous and genial. This gregarious public face was crucial to Reagan’s success with the American people, who generally pick their presidents not on policy issues, but on whom they suspect they’d more enjoy sharing a beer with.
With another Pulsar active here at 28 Sagittarius, he is seen as a communicator, a disseminator, someone newsworthy, and the close conjunction with the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius indicates one who has the potential for making a global impact, achieving universal notoriety and widespread influence. Pluto at 26 Gemini conjoins the 27 Gemini Descendant, and indicates partners and relationships as transformative for Reagan, something which catalyzes him and leads to self empowerment and full development of his potential.
Nowhere did this sunny optimism, however misplaced, serve him better than in the 1984 re-election campaign, a masterwork of PR, as Reagan used his famous “morning in America” ad campaign to distract voters from the practical realities of his policies with fuzzy, feel-good imagery and sloganeering, and away from a series of warning signs of mental deterioration that eventually led to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s five years after leaving office.
Reagan fumbled badly in the first televised debate with Democratic challenger Walter Mondale, Carter’s former Vice President, but once again was able to use humor to deflect disaster. At the second debate, the 73-year-old Reagan brought down the house with the response to questions about his age, stating, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” At the ensuing election Reagan swept the country in a landslide, winning 49 states.
But it wasn’t all hearts and flowers during the Reagan administration. TNO Eris, named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord, is placed strongly at 25 Pisces, forming a Grand Cross with squares to the Ascendant and Pluto/Descendant and an opposition to asteroid Wilson (#2465, Reagan’s middle name) at 23 Virgo retrograde. The underlying atmosphere of stress, dissent and unamiability which characterized the Reagan years can be traced to this placement, which also saw the roots of the bitter partisan divide that has accelerated and engrossed American politics in the ensuing decades.
Nixon may have flirted with the religious right in his attempt to galvanize the “silent majority,” but it was Reagan who brought them fully into the Republican fold, enabling his successor, Bush Sr., to formalize this unholy alliance, which has done so much to demonize progressive opposition to conservatism’s fascist tendencies, turning politics into a Manichean struggle between good and evil, rather than honest policy disagreements. Significantly, Eris is also conjunct asteroid Carter (#10683, for President Jimmy Carter), indicating the thorn in Carter’s side which the Reagan candidacy would become.
The second term was marked by continued retreat from affairs by the aging Reagan, who at the best of times could not be much bothered to pay attention to details, or things that he had no personal interest in. The scandal of the Iran-Contra Affair, where arms were illegally sold to Iran to pay for a rebellion in Nicaragua which Congress refused to fund, exposed both the corruption of the administration and Reagan’s lack of involvement, when he claimed ignorance of the plan. The counterculture wars inaugurated at Berkeley continued with the 1986 enactment of the War on Drugs, a $1.7 billion drug enforcement bill that specified mandatory penalties for non-violent offenders arrested on drug charges, and led directly to a vast expansion of prison facilities and the concomitant state expenditures. Nancy pitched in with her much-lampooned “Just Say No” public awareness campaign.
In his second term, Reagan’s attitude toward the Soviets softened, and he engaged in four top-level summits with Soviet premiere Gorbachev on the issue of nuclear weapons reduction. With the exception of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which eliminated an entire class of weaponry, these talks (styled START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) bore little fruit in Reagan’s time, though they laid the groundwork for future agreements. Despite a cordial personal relationship with Gorbachev, there was one more roar left in the old lion yet, as while on a visit to Berlin in June 1987 he stood before the most recognizable symbol of the Cold War and challenged, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Reagan’s judicial legacy is almost as damaging as his economic one. Although in Sandra Day O’Connor he appointed the first woman justice to the Supreme Court, his other appointees included Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and the elevation of William Rehnquist as Chief Justice. But it was in the arena of US District and Appeals courts that he made the most impact, with 373 judges appointed, more than any other president, something prefigured by natal Jupiter’s T-Square with the Black Hole (lasting change and transformation) at 12 Aquarius and the Maser (controversy) at 13 Leo.
The MC in Libra, a dual Sign, indicates achieving notoriety through disparate careers, making his mark in both, which for Reagan of course meant film and politics. That it is surrounded by asteroids representing spouses is a clear indicator of the importance his wife would play in his success. With Juno, Roman goddess of marriage, at 23 Libra, and Hera, her Greek counterpart, at 20 Libra, clustered on the MC, the significance of the partner’s contribution cannot be underestimated. In 1938, while filming “Brother Rat,” Reagan met actress Jane Wyman; the couple were married in 1940, and divorced in 1948. The first Mr. & Mrs. Reagan had a daughter, Maureen, and adopted a son, Michael, currently a conservative commentator.
Of course it was second wife Nancy whom the public identified with Reagan, and the story of their meeting sheds further light on the intricacies of his destiny as it unfolded. Their meeting was a direct outgrowth of his time as SAG president, a tumultuous period with many labor/management disputes, which included the red scare and the blacklists of McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities. Reagan cooperated with the FBI in its investigations, providing the names of actors, writers and technicians whom he believed to harbor communist sympathies. He also testified before the House Committee.
It was this flirtation with McCarthyism that brought Reagan the love of his life, for in 1949 he met actress Nancy Davis, who had been blacklisted in error, and had appealed to him as SAG president for assistance in fixing the problem. The pair began dating, and married in 1952. They have two children, Patricia (who acts under her mother’s maiden name as Patti Davis) and Ron. By all accounts the second Mr. & Mrs. Reagan formed a love match that lasted throughout the rest of their lives, something truly intimate and close. Nancy was a powerful, formative figure in Reagan’s full development and his movement into politics, a staunch supporter, almost overprotective and bitterly vengeful of any who criticized her husband. She called him “Ronnie;” he called her “mommie.”
Her importance in his life is represented astrologically by asteroid Davis (#3638, her maiden name) at 23 Aries, conjunct the IC, opposed the MC and Hera, and exactly opposed Juno. But as the anchor of the chart, the foundational point of the IC, there is a suggestion that however important her contribution to Reagan’s worldly success may have been, it is on the domestic front where she holds the most sway, providing security and a sense of safety and belonging which grants him the power to be himself confidently in the world.
Asteroid Nancy (#2056) at 3 Libra forms the Apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjuncts to Venus (love, romance)/Eros (passion) at 3 Pisces and Saturn (career, consort) at 0 Taurus, as well as exactly squaring Mars (sex) at 3 Capricorn. Nancy tied exactly to both indicators of love and sexual passion is a sure sign of intimacy and desire, and the Yod indicates the fated nature of their attraction, and its importance in Reagan’s destiny.
Chiron is also conjunct Venus from 1 Pisces, indicating a potential wounding in love, and in fact, Reagan was so distressed and broken up by the failure of his first marriage that he delayed committing to Nancy for several years, fearing the repercussions of a new union. An exact semisquare from the Sun to Chiron shows just how personally wounded Reagan must have felt by this divorce.
The Reagans lived quietly after leaving the White House in 1989, dividing their time between the Reagan Ranch and a new home in Bel Air. Public appearances became rarer after the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in 1991 and a speech at the Republican National Convention in 1992. His final public speech was given at a tribute to him in Washington in February 1994, and he last appeared publicly at Nixon’s funeral that April.
In August he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Reagan released a statement in the form of a letter to the nation that November. Typically, his first thought was of Nancy, writing, “I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease…. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience.”
The Reagans became increasingly isolated as the disease progressed. The natal Mercury/Uranus opposition to Neptune, which rules dementia, may have had an effect on his acquiring Alzheimer’s. Recently the dispute over exactly when the disease came into play has again made news, with the publication of son Ron’s memoirs, in which he speculates that his father’s “lost and bewildered” (Neptune) behavior during his second term may have been an early sign of mental (Mercury) deterioration and breakdown (Uranus).
In her 2000 book Reporting Live, CBS reporter Leslie Stahl supports this view, disclosing details of an exit interview she’d had with Reagan in the summer of 1986, as she was leaving the job of White House correspondent:
“Reagan didn’t seem to know who I was. He gave me a distant look with those milky eyes and shook my hand weakly. Oh, my, he’s gonzo, I thought. I have to go out on the lawn tonight and tell my countrymen that the president of the United States is a doddering space cadet. My heart began to hammer with the import…I was aware of the delicacy with which I would have to write my script. But I was quite sure of my diagnosis.”
But before the interview ended, Reagan seemed to collect himself somewhat, and Stahl decided not to run the story; Stahl continues: “Later, when I would ask White House officials if they had ever seen him float away like that, they’d say yes, but that, as with me, he always pulled himself together. It was confusing for everyone.” Today we have a much clearer understanding of the early effects of Alzheimer’s, which are precisely as described by Stahl.
Ronald Reagan died quietly in his Bel Air home on 5 June 2004. His body lay in state for public viewing from June 7-9 at the lobby of the Reagan Library, and more than 100,000 came to pay their respects. An additional 104,000+ people viewed him in the 34 hours preceding his state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral on June 11, declared a National Day of Mourning. At last and finally, it was truly “mourning in America.”
Reagan’s connections to the USA chart are striking. With its Neptune conjunct the MC, the nation is always ripe for a demagogue, someone to foster fears and appeal to a simpler, almost hagiographic time when God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world. The fact that so few people then or now see Reagan in this light, as someone evoking idyllic imagery to attain Machiavellian ends, is a tribute to his ability to craft a message that is at once powerful and insubstantial, smoke and mirrors, the Great Oz behind the curtain. Having asteroid Wilson directly combined with this Neptune/MC in the USA chart shows Reagan as the man for the hour.
Aiding and abetting his ability to lull the nation into complacency and a glut of self-interest is Neptune conjunct the USA Mercury/Agita at 24 Cancer, which opposes Reagan’s own Mercury/Uranus. Neptune both reinforces and soothes the underlying national agitation (Agita) that is never far from the surface, and with Mercury in opposition to the nation’s, Reagan is able to articulate (Mercury) a philosophy in direct contrast (opposition) to its best interests, while cloaking his intentions and the likely ramifications of these decisions in deceptive (Neptune) terms which belie the reality.
Mercury/Uranus also conjoins the USA natal Pluto at 27 Capricorn, indicating the huge expenditure (Pluto) to augment the nation’s ability to project power globally (also Pluto) via technological advancement (Uranus), and to stridently communicate (Mercury) that goal. Reagan’s own Pluto conjunct the USA Mars at 21 Gemini reiterates this theme of military expansion and massive build-up of arsenals and weaponry; conjunct his Descendant, it marks this approach as his way of relating to the world.
Reagan’s Jupiter/Moon opposition ties exactly to the US Sun at 13 Cancer, by trine and sextile, suggesting a strong emotional bond with the nation, and an almost regal (Jupiter) affinity, something probably better expressed in surrogate by Nancy’s perceived aristocratic tastes rather than Ron’s more avuncular, folksy style. Jupiter is also closely semisextile the USA Saturn, symbol of the presidency, at 14 Libra, which is itself sextile asteroid America at 12 Sagittarius in Reagan’s nativity.
Ronald Reagan has become an icon of conservatism in America, the man who virtually single-handedly stopped progressive politics in its tracks and brought conservatism back from the brink of the grave. His stature has become such that he is still held up as the paragon of presidential virtue by Republicans, and even elected Democrats find it hard to call him out for the more disastrous effects of his policies which still plague the country.
But his legacy can be seen every day in the homeless that clog downtown streets, in the mounting deficit spending and national debt, in the eroded public discourse of our representatives, increased prison populations, and in a direct line of political succession leading through Bush Sr. to Dubya and the host of troubles he left behind him. Reagan halted 50 years of social progress and moved the nation onto a path of social Darwinism and tax/expenditure policies that have enriched the wealthiest among us and further impoverished the least fortunate. As such, he deserves opprobrium, not apotheosis.