Virginia Postrel's blog at Dynamist.com includes a perceptive memoriam and a few links to reflections on Ronald Reagan.
By being able to tap into much that is essentially and uniquely American, Reagan got elected and re-elected(usually by landslides) but also changed the course of history, mostly for the better. He did this in spite of the fact that his thoughts and values had been dismissed and denigrated by elite opinion, here and abroad.
Elite opinion is likely to be the last to get it -- and must now spend some weeks grappling with the Reagan legacy. At the looney left, you get the LA Times' Robert Scheer, describing "A Nice Guy's Nasty Policies". Others, invoke clear-eyed hindsight, and remind us that the USSR was weak, ready to fall, and did not need much of a push.
Yes, and who said so at the time? In those days, the further left on political the spectrum one went, the more likely it was that the view was that both sides are equally corrupt and that the wise policies were neutrality (the European left) or peaceful co-existence along with cultural exchanges (U.S. elite opinion).
It does not take much clear-eyed memory to appreciate the RR legacy.