Dang! I wish I had written this---
It seems that you can look at a chart of almost anything and right around 1981 or soon after you'll see the chart make a sharp change in direction, and probably not in a good way. And I really do mean almost anything, from economics to trade to infrastructure to ... well almost anything. Conservative policies transformed the United States from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it has only gotten worse since then.
Working people's share of the benefits from increased productivity took a sudden turn down.
This resulted in intense concentration of wealth at the top.
The anti-government, pro-corporate-rule Reagan Revolution screwed a lot of things up for regular people and for the country. Some of this disaster we saw happening at the time and some of it has taken 30 years to become clear. But for all the damage done these "conservative" policies greatly enriched a few entrenched interests, who use their wealth and power to keep things the way they are. And the rest of us, hit so hard by the changes, don't have the resources to fight the wealth and power.
Go here for the charts. Learn about the ruination of our country.
If the Tea Party-ers really want this country back, they are going to have to learn to eschew--and not enshrine--Ronald Reagan.