Share This Article with a Friend!

Outsiders vs. Insiders: Hey Donald Trump, how can we get you to be more like Ronald Reagan?

What can Donald Trump do to become beloved like Ronald Reagan?

It’s a question on the minds of many conservatives these days as the incessant media attacks on the post-Obama president continue and Trump struggles to improve his approval ratings ahead of this year’s midterm elections. While most conservatives (other than those in the cult of #NeverTrump) agree Trump is achieving a Ronald Reagannumber of worthy things it seems clear that years from now hardly anyone will remember him for what he did as much as the constant negativity that followed him everywhere during his tenure.

Not so for Ronald Reagan, who was not only popular in his day but has retained near-legend status over a decade after his passing. In Washington DC Reagan has a building and an airport named after him so even by listening to weather reports on the local news you still hear references to The Gipper on a regular basis.

Reagan’s cast a long shadow over American politics that any Republican would have a hard time extricating themselves from, but it seems particularly arduous for Trump. Not only do the two differ markedly in personality and temperament but Reagan is revered to this day for his rock solid constitutionally based conservative principles.

Trump, in contrast, is seen even by supporters as flying by the seat of his ideological pants, a man who clearly desires to make America great again yet has difficulty finding the consistency in policy and leadership style that will produce that result.

Can Trump ever truly measure up?

A lot of folks have their doubts. NeverTrumper Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review this week, “Trump has said countless times that he thinks his gut is a better guide than the brains of his advisers. He routinely argues that the presidents and policymakers who came before him were all fools and weaklings. That’s narcissism, not ideology, talking.

“Even the ‘ideas’ that he has championed consistently — despite countervailing evidence and expertise — are grounded not in arguments but in instincts. He dislikes regulations because, as a businessman, they got in his way. He dislikes trade because he has a childish, narrow understanding of what ‘winning’ means. Foreigners are ripping us off. Other countries are laughing at us.

“He doesn’t actually care about, let alone understand, the arguments suggesting that protectionism can work. Indeed, he reportedly issued his recent diktat on steel tariffs in a fit of pique over negative media coverage and the investigation into Russian election interference. His administration was wholly unprepared for the announcement.”

Goldberg’s line of argument isn’t new and its curious how he continues to insult Trump supporters as though he doesn’t work for a conservative publication where practically his entire readership is made up of people who side with Trump – perhaps not always ideologically but as a matter of practicality because although Trump may not be a genuine conservative his administration governs as if he were one.

The anti-Trump establishment intelligentsia seems particularly honked off about the trade issue and it’s difficult to understand why. If the “free trade” they’re promoting all this time was so wonderful and produced such spectacular prosperity and universally sound standards of living then why are there so many citizens in so many states who beg to differ?

I personally lean towards free trade but I’ll admit the support goes out the window when we have international actors that don’t give a hoot about fairness and operate on their own nationalist interests – the type that Goldberg and his ilk supposedly despise so much. While it’s true we’d have a hard time looking Canada and Mexico in the face if we ever had to tell them we’re about to heavily tax some of what they’re sending us -- does the same apprehension extend to China?

Unlike any of the recent presidents Trump talks a lot about America’s trade deficit and how it impacts quality of life in this country. In the eighties trade imbalances with Japan allowed our former WWII arch-enemy to buy half of Hawaii because they were so flush with cash they didn’t know where else to spend it.

Meanwhile China is financing its economic expansion on the backs of American consumers who buy up cheap Chinese products like there was no tomorrow. The fact is, there won’t be any future for a lot of American manufacturing companies and workers if something isn’t done to make China account for the way it’s handled trade relations.

Scott Paul wrote at Fox News, “[T]he people in our steel mill towns know their communities won’t ever again look like they did in the 1950s. That’s not what they’re asking for; they’re simply asking to be included in America’s future.

“This tariff will give them a chance at that – and set the tone for how we should now approach China and its state-led capitalism.

“Already, China is well on its way toward dominating the markets for future-oriented technologies like semiconductors and artificial intelligence, and it has used trade as a tool to achieve that objective. China forces technology transfers upon foreign firms operating in its borders. It rampantly abuses intellectual property protections.”

What do the free traders offer in answer to the very real threat China’s rapid economic growth represents to us? As far as I can tell only stale arguments about how evil tariffs ruin the marketplace and how everyone suffers under trade wars and not a word about the damage already inflicted under policies that wrecked America’s manufacturing base and sullied American culture from the lack of opportunity in industrial regions of the country.

Have people like Jonah Goldberg (or his fellow National Review writer Kevin Williamson) ever driven through Pennsylvania and Ohio? The economically blighted populations in these places not so coincidentally also have the biggest problems with opioid addiction and other cultural maladies that go hand and hand with unemployment and lack of good economic opportunities.

But manufacturing is so yesterday, right? Some of these same free trade stooges argue the economy of the 21st century has already moved past the need to regain America’s position as a preeminent manufacturer. Instead, tech companies and the service economy will make up for the loss of jobs for people who used to work with their hands and create things that others want to buy, right?

And let’s not forget, illegal aliens will pick the produce and mow everyone’s grass too. Nirvana is practically here – if only Donald Trump would stop tweeting and listen to them!

If manufacturing isn’t important then why isn’t China going along with the notion? You don’t see the Chinese communist government dictating downward to Chinese companies to cease churning out exports because they’re no longer needed. The whole assertion on the part of the free traders that businesses should be allowed to founder (in the name of principle) is absurd.

Ronald Reagan believed in free trade too, but he also recognized a Soviet Union that couldn’t compete economically could not long sustain itself. The arms race in the 80’s forced the bitter enemy to dump so much of its economic resources into keeping up with the West that the pressure ultimately collapsed the communist regime (not that the current leadership of Russia is a whole lot better).

In essence Reagan practiced his own form of “America First.” Isn’t Trump just following suit?

Americans thought so highly of Reagan because he correctly identified that government was the problem in so many ways and not the solution – that the individual entrepreneurial spirit of ordinary people was far superior in determining their own fortunes than anything the government could provide. Reagan believed government only held people back, not the other way around.

Trump isn’t as lofty and high-minded as Reagan in his rhetoric but the underlying beliefs of the two men aren’t all that different. They both seem to want the same things – or at least similar outcomes. Reagan was just much better at putting his philosophies into words.

Still there are those who can’t wrap their arms around Trump as president. One former Republican chief executive is under the delusional impression Trump is helping boost his own historical standing just because the current occupant of the Oval Office is so foul mannered.

Ed Mazza of the Huffington Post reported, “Former President George W. Bush is reportedly pleased by at least one element of the Donald Trump presidency: It’s making him look better.

“While Bush doesn’t often address Trump or his policies directly, he does have a zinger he likes to deliver when the issue comes up. Tom DeFrank, a contributing editor for The National Journal, reported:

“Without chiming in with the Trump critics, Bush is often heard to remark, unable to stifle his trademark smirk: ‘Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn’t it?’”

No, George, it doesn’t. Just as Trump is having a tough time following in Reagan’s footsteps your presidency didn’t make anyone quit longing for the old days either. At least with Trump people know which side he’s on; George W. was so embedded with the establishment swamp monsters and the neoconservative warmongers that no one could tell where he came down on issues.

Has anyone forgotten George W. Bush’s push for amnesty and the big bailouts he instituted towards the end of his presidency? In his final days in Washington it was safe to say conservatives were just as anxious for Bush to leave as the liberals were to see him go. It’s rather narcissistic for Bush to now assume Trump is making him look competent in retrospect just because of behavioral differences.

Reagan had his own amnesty but the former California governor subsequently realized the mistake of it all. None of the Bushes ever admit they did anything wrong.

The media bludgeoned Bush and Reagan relentlessly but their treatment of Trump has been even worse – by far. L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham reported at CNS News, “A new Media Research Center study of the evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC during January and February found that 91 percent of Trump evaluations were negative. Nearly 63 percent of news coverage was devoted to scandals like the Russia investigation (204 minutes), the allegations of wife beating against White House aide Rob Porter (54 minutes), unproven gossip from Michael Wolff's book about the Trump White House (53 minutes) and reports that Trump used the term ‘s—-hole countries’ in a discussion on African countries and immigration (31 minutes)…

“Every study of the media's performance reveals the ‘news’ product is hyperbolic, negative and seemingly designed to make the Trump presidency appear perpetually on the verge of collapse. How can any of these journalists be surprised that Trump backers don't trust their narration of the first draft of history as it unfolds?”

Americans don’t trust reporters and that’s why a lot of the spin around Trump – even by those like Jonah Goldberg and the so-called conservative media – just flies right over people’s heads.

We all know Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan, nor can he realistically expect to ever be thought of in the same light as the man who saw America as the “Shining City on a Hill.” That said, Trump deserves the leeway to achieve his own vision of making America great again. I think we should give it to him.

Share this

Mister Trump

He's a patriot and has his own style. Obviously. Everyone does. I like 99% of what T is trying to do. Much of it has languished for decades, and he is finally making sense for the USA again. As for Reagan, who was very lovable, he signed the 1986 immigration mistakes into law. Not good. Trump would have known better. Reagan was a great guy, but that he signed the 1986 immigration laws into effect was a big mistake. A HUGE mistake. Trump although outspoken and pushy and vain is a very smart man. He knows exactly what to do for the USA. I see very few errors, in spite of way too many impulsive tweets. One of T's mistakes might be offshore drilling along our coasts. I am not sure this is necessary? I do not like the idea. Otherwise Trump stands tall for the USA and its workers. Good for him. It takes a brave man to do this considering how the lunacy of the left has poisoned our society with so much hate and mis-direction. Thank God Trump took the job. He sure does not need it.