Trump, Romney, and Reagan

th (2)The pro-Trump crowd has taken to comparing Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan. Yes, all Republican candidates since 1988 have been attempting to claim the Reagan mantle, but Trump supporters have been loudly repeating this mantra for weeks. Earlier this month, prior to the first Republican debate, even Rudy Giuliani stated “so we might have a little bit of Ronald Reagan here, a guy they underestimate.”

The Reagan/Trump comparison crowd’s argument is threefold. First, they argue that Trump is a Washington outsider who does not care about appeasing the political class, just like Reagan. Second, Trump was a television star and Reagan was in the movies, thus they both are media savvy. Finally, Trump was previously a Democrat who came to the conservative cause, just like Reagan.

Regarding the first, yes, Trump is a Washington outsider who does not seem to care about the RNC or Washington insiders. One cannot argue that point. However, that in and of itself does not equate to having the leadership skills to govern and lead a political party and nation. Reagan indeed was a Washington outsider, however, he had political organizational experience as president of the Screen Actors Guild and political executive experience as Governor of California. Trump has never held office. Some may view that as a strength. However, Trump does not have a record in which supporters or potential supporters can judge. Ronald Reagan had such a record.

The second argument is, quite frankly, absurd. Yes, Ronald Reagan was a movie star and was excellent at using the medium of television to communicate effectively. Reagan mastered the art of bypassing the media and speaking directly to Americans. So much so that one of Reagan’s many nicknames was the great commutator. Donald Trump was a reality television star. Yes, Trump has a knack for creating media buzz and getting coverage. However, again, that does not give any indication what type of political leader he would be. In addition, Trump’s grasp of the media can in no way, shape, or form be compared to Reagan. Ronald Reagan communicated a positive message to Americans about the future of America. Reagan gave us quotes such as “morning in America” and a “shining city on a hill.” Trump has no such message. Donald Trump is selling fear on one single issue—immigration. Basically, our country must cease illegal immigration or our existence is doomed. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Trump on this issue, one cannot argue that is a positive political message.

Reagan communicated big ideas such as winning the Cold War and the destroying the Soviet Union in which he deemed the Evil Empire. Trump communicates gloom. In addition, Trump has made many slanderous statements of fellow politicians during his campaign, and misogynistic statements on his reality show. Reagan operated under the adage that a Republican should never speak ill of a fellow Republican. Trump stated John McCain, who was a POW in Vietnam, is “not a war hero….he was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Reagan would have never made such a statement about a member of his own party. In my opinion Reagan used television to communicate the greatness of America. Trump uses television to attempt to communicate the greatness of Donald Trump.

The third argument is the most puzzling. Actually, it is mind boggling. Trump has been a Democrat or Independent for most of his life. In 2004, Trump stated, when asked of his political party tendencies, “in many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat. It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn’t be that way. But if you go back, I mean it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats. …But certainly we had some very good economies under Democrats, as well as Republicans. But we’ve had some pretty bad disaster under the Republicans.” Trump, stated in 2007 when asked who he would like to see negotiating with Iran, “Hillary has always surrounded herself with very good people. I think Hillary would do a good job.” In the same interview, when asked about Condoleezza Rice, Trump stated “gimme a break…you think she is a negotiator…she waves…has she has not made one deal…what has she done?” In the last presidential cycle, Trump switched his party affiliation to Independent in case he wanted to attempt a third party run. Four years ago, Trump was a registered Independent.

Ronald Reagan was a Democrat in his younger days which actually provided him with one of his best political lines. When asked why he left the Democratic Party, Reagan stated “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Party left me.” Reagan left the Democratic Party in 1962, four years prior to becoming Governor of California, and 18 years prior to becoming president-elect from the Republican party. In 1964, while stumping for Barry Goldwater, Reagan gave a speech entitled “A Time for Choosing.” This speech, along with Goldwater’s run for presidency, defined modern conservatism.

Trump is by no means a conservative. Already in this campaign, he has changed his position on defunding Planned Parenthood, and the progressive income tax structure. He also claimed that single payer healthcare works well in Canada and Scotland. That is just in the few weeks of his current campaign. Over his career, Trump has changed his position on abortion, now claiming to be pro-life when in the past he has stated he was “very pro-choice.” He has changed his opinion on Hillary now stating she was the worst Secretary of State we had ever had, when he previously stated she would be a great negotiator and “I think Hillary is a terrific woman. I just like her. I like her and her husband.” He also previously supported universal healthcare while now denouncing it, while still claiming it works well in Canada and Scotland.

What we have in Trump is successful businessman who has spent the majority of his life in parties other than the Republican party. We have an entrepreneur who was previously pro-choice and now is pro-life. We have a candidate that previously supported universal healthcare, and now does not. Are not these the same two issues on which grassroots conservatives and Tea Party activists hammered Mitt Romney? Mitt was not an authentic conservative because of his previous positions on abortion and healthcare, however, Trump, who held the same positions as Romney, is a Tea Party darling? Actually one can argue Mitt is more authentic because he governed as a Republican governor. Mitt did not become a Republican five minutes prior to a Republican primary as Trump did.

Trump is a moderate. He is not Ronald Reagan. Trump is Mitt Romney. Actually, that may be somewhat unfair to Romney’s Republican credentials because Mitt actually has Republican credentials. Trump is not a man of conviction like Reagan, he is a man of opportunity, which is why he refused to commit his support to the Republican nominee in the debate. Trump is not a conservative, he is an opportunist who became a Republican because the Republican field is wide open. Months ago, prior to Hillary’s current legal troubles, if the Democratic nomination looked wide open, Trump would have ran in the Democratic primaries. Reagan was a visionary. Trump is a charlatan. To compare the two is asinine.

 

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