In an attempt to legitimize Donald Trump’s candidacy in the eyes of conservatives, both Trump and his supporters like to say that his metamorphosis politically into a Republican is the same as Ronald Reagan’s. This is a comparison that doesn’t survive even the most casual scrutiny.
The only similarity is that both were Democrats. I would argue that Trump, essentially, still is a Democrat, but masquerading as a Republican. A fuller treatment of that thesis may be forthcoming. For today, though, let’s examine the supposed Reagan-Trump connection.
Ronald Reagan was raised in a Democrat household; he voted for Franklin Roosevelt in each of FDR’s election victories. After WWII, Reagan spoke out forcefully against the rise of fascism, for which his liberal audiences cheered. Yet one fateful day, when he ended a speech saying that if he ever found out that communists were a real threat to the nation, he would speak out just as forcefully, his speech before a liberal audience ended in silence. No applause this time.
Reagan had to reconsider his views and eventually realized that American liberalism, resident in the Democrat party, had a strong streak of sympathy for the socialist worldview.
During the 1950s and into the early 1960s, Reagan worked for General Electric and hosted its weekly television program. GE at that time was a bastion of conservative economic principles that spread the free-market philosophy among it workers nationwide. Reagan studied those economic principles seriously for the first time in his life and became convinced they were right.
So, to shorten the story somewhat, let’s just say that over a period of nearly two decades, Reagan carefully rethought all his former positions and came out a convinced conservative in his understanding of the Constitution, of the limitations on government, and in defense of economic freedom. He later added a strong stance against abortion when he belatedly realized that a bill he signed as governor of California opened the door to abortion on demand. Again, this was the result of careful study of the issue.
Donald Trump’s avowed conversion to conservatism doesn’t follow such a path. As late as 2008, he was supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Just a couple of weeks ago, he publicly stated that being conservative is not what matters; we just need to fix the country. Well, I would argue that the country cannot be fixed except through those exact conservative principles that he says aren’t all that important.
Trump’s assertion that he is now a conservative doesn’t pass the test. He claims a Reaganesque switch on abortion, yet continues to say that Planned Parenthood does some really good things. He would also like to see the abortion language in the Republican platform softened.
Do you really trust this man to defund Planned Parenthood and to appoint Supreme Court justices that will uphold the Constitution? You have more faith than I do.
There’s also the matter of both Reagan and Trump having been divorced. Trump’s people love to make that comparison. They say there is no difference. I beg to differ.
Trump’s divorces were entirely at his instigation. His obsession with beautiful women (I refuse to use his terminology about what he seeks) has led him twice to discard a wife so he could marry someone else. His entire attitude toward women, evidenced by his lurid language that he doesn’t mind using publicly, is an affront to common decency.
What about Reagan’s divorce? He married actress Jane Wyman in the early 1940s. They began a family; he wanted it to stay that way. The divorce was not of his doing; he fought against it but lost. Wyman chose to leave him, not because he was unfaithful [he wasn’t] but because she had apparently tired of his political participation, among other reasons. She also had an affair with one of her co-stars in a movie at that time.
Reagan was devastated by the divorce and hit a low point in his life over it. When he remarried a few years later, it was a marriage that lasted the rest of his life—more than fifty years.
Does anyone really think Donald Trump was devastated over his divorces? Does anyone really believe he would be faithful to one woman for more than fifty years?
Is there anyone with even half a brain on this planet who truly accepts the superficial reasoning that dares to compare Donald Trump with Ronald Reagan?
I’ve outlined the many reasons I cannot support Trump in other posts, so I won’t repeat them all here. My goal today is to try to put to rest the silly attempt to equate the principled Reagan with the unprincipled Trump.
He who has ears to hear, please listen.