Trump and Reagan Have More In Common Than the GOP Likes to Admit
The Donald’s Russia policy builds on Reagan’s cold war achievement
by Anthony T. Salvia
Anthony T. Salvia was Special Advisor to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs under Ronald Reagan, and director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Moscow bureau. He is now Partner at Global Strategic Communications Group, a firm devoted to governmental relations and public advocacy. This is an exclusive to Russia Insider
There are two prevalent views of Ronald Reagan and his legacy in today’s GOP. The National Review’s Rich Lowry says it is time the party got over its inordinate attachment to Reagan and devised new policies to expand the party’s base. (But then Donald Trump is already doing this, which is why he is winning.)
Then there are those who still lovingly invoke Reagan’s name nearly a quarter of a century after he left office. Says Senator Rubio: it is “time for the children of the Reagan Revolution to assume the mantle of leadership.”
By this he means, of course, people like himself, and not his nemesis Donald Trump who has a history of supporting Democrats, and can therefore be assumed not to be a “movement conservative,” and therefore, not a Reaganite.
In any case, the “children of the Reagan Revolution” (whether they would agree with Mr. Lowry or Senator Rubio) revile Trump for his opposition to the things they love the most -- open borders, fast track trade deals, and military intervention overseas, which they habitually imply Reagan would have supported.
Well, I served for eight years under President Reagan as one of his appointees in the Departments of State and Defense; I know what I am talking about: Reagan stood for none of those things. Moreover, far from Trump having no claim to the Reagan mantle, he has a better claim to it than most other candidates.
Reagan and Trump are very different as personalities. The former was suave, the latter often brusque. But that should not obscure the fact that they have a lot in common:
Both had notable heads of hair. Both were long-time Democrats before switching parties. Both were media personalities. Reagan was an entertainer who became a corporate spokesman (for General Electric); Trump is a businessman who became an
entertainer (appearing for years on a program for NBC, which, when it first aired, was a subsidiary of General Electric.)
Reagan, like Trump, divorced and re-married (Reagan once, Trump twice). He was the first divorcee to occupy the White House. He made much of religion and its role in public life, but rarely went to church. Nevertheless, he won lots of Evangelical votes, just as Trump is doing in the primary. As Governor of California, he signed one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation, although later embraced the cause of life. He campaigned actively for John F. Kennedy in 1960 only to ardently support Barry Goldwater in 1964. Trump’s views on social issues and politics have also evolved in similar kinds of ways.
Neither had Washington experience; both were considered interlopers by the power elite. Although both were gifted communicators and more than adept at using the media, the media had no use for either of them (apart from the revenue their popularity generated.)
Both led insurgencies against the GOP establishment, which loathed them. Reagan was branded lazy, too old, not terribly bright, a warmonger and a danger to the Republic in an effort to bring him down. Trump is also the object of much scurrilous commentary generated by well-paid establishment spin doctors specialized in character assassination.
Both had a penchant for loose rhetoric that would get them in trouble (Reagan compared the New Deal to Fascism, said trees cause pollution, and was accused of racism for denouncing “Cadillac-driving welfare queens”). It is hard not to see the roots of Trump’s explosive debating style in Reagan’s legendary “I’m-paying-for-this microphone” moment that left his future vice president tongue-tied in Nashua....'
'....Memo to Rich Lowry: the GOP’s problem is not Reagan and his legacy -- it is the parlouspolicies it became wedded to after his departure from office, and which he would never have countenanced.
Still less is the party's problem Donald Trump -- our only political leader who understands that we cannot go on like this.
In focusing like a laser on establishment policies millions of Americans find intolerable -- open borders, fast track and endless wars -- Trump has become the people’s tribune. That is why he is winning. And that is why I suspect that if my old boss Ronald Reagan were with us now, he would not be averse to the prospect of a Trump victory in November.