All this talk about how Donald Trump resembles Ronald Reagan has only reminded me of Reagan himself, and what little Trump and Reagan share in common. For example, we have Trump’s recent statements on immigration and removal of birthright citizenship. Compare this with what Reagan said in 1980 when he accepted the GOP nomination for the presidency:
Here is a transcript:
I have thought of something that is not part of my speech and I’m worried over whether I should do it.
Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe freely: Jews and Christians enduring persecution behind the Iron Curtain, the boat people of Southeast Asia, of Cuba and Haiti, the victims of drought and famine in Africa, the freedom fighters of Afghanistan and our own countrymen held in savage captivity.
I’ll confess that I’ve been a little afraid to suggest what I’m going to suggest–I’m more afraid not to–that we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer.
God bless America.
To be honest, I was upset with Reagan at the time of this speech, as I thought that prayer was not a valid substitute for policy. Yet, even if his remark was devoid of substance, the tone and intent was exactly right.
Trump’s latest immigration proposals are diametrically opposite from his immigration proposals from several months ago (proposals which have disappeared down the rabbit hole, never to be seen again). Yet, whether any of Trump’s proposals on immigration are right–whether they be his current proposals or earlier ones–his tone is aggressive, hateful, and strident. It may be right to deport some people in the end, but these are people who came to America, even if illegally, to be a part of the American dream. As someone who has been deported from a country in which I made my home over a visa snafu, I know how hard it is to be on the other end of this process. Yes, laws need to be enforced, but there is no need for the people of the US to be hateful about it.
At the same time, note the lack of consistency in Trump’s character. Trump is forever shifting with the wind. Several years ago, Trump was so pro-choice that he even defended late-term abortions, then when he decided to run for president he suddenly claimed to be pro-life and wanted to defund Planned Parenthood–yet, literally within less than a week of wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, Trump is on record as wanting to preserve Planned Parenthood funding, and has in fact received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood. You may like Trump’s proposals today, but did you like the ones he made yesterday, and will you like the ones he makes tomorrow? The man is a model of inconsistency and incoherency.
Throughout his life, Reagan was consistent and clear in his principles. For example, earlier in his speech above, he had this to say:
And, the time is now to redeem promises once made to the American people by another candidate, in another time and another place. He said, “For three long years I have been going up and down this country preaching that government–federal, state, and local–costs too much. I shall not stop that preaching. As an immediate program of action, we must abolish useless offices. We must eliminate unnecessary functions of government…we must consolidate subdivisions of government and, like the private citizen, give up luxuries which we can no longer afford.”
“I propose to you, my friends, and through you that government of all kinds, big and little be made solvent and that the example be set by the president of the United States and his Cabinet.”
So said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention in July 1932.
Trump supporters claim that somehow Trump is the same as Reagan, because as little as six weeks ago Trump left the Democratic Party. However, Reagan could honestly say that he never left the Democratic Party: the party left him. Reagan’s principles may have evolved some, but by and large he was the same man with the same beliefs in 1932 as he was in 1980. Trump cannot even say that he has the same beliefs now that he had two weeks ago. At the same time Trump hasn’t changed one bit over the years: He is just as hypocritical, unprincipled, godless, and duplicitous now as he was thirty years ago.
And somehow, this makes Trump like Reagan?