General Electric is currently sponsoring the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration. Regan’s relationship with GE is the subject of Thomas Evans’s recent book The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism, in which he examines Reagan’s role not only as host of GE Theater but as the company’s public-relations envoy.
In particular, Evans reveals the profound influence of GE executive Lemuel Boulware, who would become Reagan’s political and ideological mentor. Boulware, known for his tough stance against union officials and his innovative corporate strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism—free-market fundamentalism, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government.
The G.E. site is featuring articles by various figures including Tom Brokaw, Pat Buchanan, and Thomas Evans, who in his essay Vision Accomplished explores Reagan’s years at G.E. and how they shaped his presidency and his “vision which developed from study and talks with GE workers and executives all over the country.”
And just for fun (and at the risk of shilling for GE), here is a promotional spot Reagan did on GE theater:
On a more serious note, here is a radio interview with Ronald Reagan from 1958 in which he discusses union-management and reveals his evolving political views: