Prepare to get Trumped


The similarities and parallels of Ronald Reagan’s campaign for the presidency and Donald Trump’s are uncanny. Particularly Reagan’s first successful run. Specifically in the reaction of the media and the “elites” to both of their running for office. By the way, I’m not comparing Trump to Reagan. I’m simply pointing out the eerie similarities in the reactions to their candidacies. I was politically aware during Reagan’s campaign and his subsequent two terms. In fact, I credit Reagan with making me politically aware. It’s ironic because at the time, although I was in the US Navy I was a resident of Puerto Rico and therefore ineligible to vote for the President.

When Reagan began his campaign I would read print media and watch the network news and was amused by their portrayals of the man. They were dripping with ridicule and disdain. They called him a joke, a clueless actor, a dangerous cowboy. Mind you, he had already served as Governor of California and this was not his first campaign for the presidency. They warned how the world would ridicule us and how they would lose respect for us. And they quoted other countries leaders and pundits to prove their point.

I have to admit that at the time I also thought the media had our best interests at heart and so I began listening to Reagan himself when he spoke. You know, to be in on the joke. After all, he was just an actor right? They’d parade out clips of the movie Bedtime for Bonzo as if to associate Reagan with a chimpanzee. It was subtle but effective. The elites and liberal media lapped it up. After he became president the hits just got bigger and more and more vicious. I remember a British comedy show that had a skit featuring a Reagan puppet. They portrayed him as a vacuous idiot. And a dangerous one at that. There were one liners in movies about how ridiculous we had become as a country for electing this “actor”.

Anyways, during the campaign I listened whenever Reagan was on television and whenever he was interviewed. I watched the debates. Obviously I had less avenues to listen to him than we have in today’s completely connected world. This was before the World Wide Web after all. We had 3 major networks and a 24 hour news station was just a crazy pipe dream at the time (CNN launched in June of 1980). It is very possible that in today’s world Reagan would not even have been elected!

This was my watershed moment. What the man was actually saying made sense to me. When he spoke I got the distinct impression that this was not the man being raked over the coals by our media, our standup comics, late night talk show hosts and political cartoonists. I began to notice how the media would take his quotes and add words to them. Putting words in his mouth as it were. They would twist them all out of context. I would listen to him and them and it was like they were peeing on my feet and calling it rain. The elites turned their noses up, harrumphed and they mocked Middle America who were heeding his message. You know, the “low info voters” they’re calling Trump supporters today. His popularity with flyover country surged. There was the same resurgence of pride and hope of making America great again that exists today.

I’ll give you a specific example that underscores the correlation between that campaign and this one. At the time things were pretty bad. Unemployment was high, taxes were high, prices were high and people were saying America’s best days were behind us. Iran had invaded our sovereign soil (the US Embassy) and taken over sixty Americans hostage. They would wind up holding them for 444 days only releasing them when Reagan was inaugurated. We had a humiliating failure of a mission to attempt to rescue them. Our military was a hollow shell. The supposed failure of the Vietnam Conflict was a pall hanging over us all. Even though technically the US was actually winning the conflict it became generally unpopular as a result of the protests and the mainstream media portraying it as a failure. Things were pretty bad indeed. Arthur Okun’s misery index was above 16%. For those who don’t know, the misery index was a sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate.

In fact, President Carter said that it was now time for all of us to cinch up our belts and do with a little less. Experts and pundits nodded their heads and agreed. Ronald Reagan responded to this by saying that sounds good for people who have a little more but what about the poor American that had no extra to give up? How were they supposed to do with less? He stated that he believed America’s greatest days were still ahead of us. He pointed out the American can-do spirit and how we led the world in entrepreneurial endeavors. He used the example of a very simple invention that was popular at the time. A metal clip-on handle that you could clip to your soda can so it would not be warmed up by the body heat in your hand. That this invention has gone the way of the pet rock is irrelevant. That spirit still exists today. If you don’t think so watch an episode of Shark Tank. This type of entrepreneurial drive only exists in a society that rewards creativity and innovation. You know, a capitalist society.

The ridicule being heaped on people who support Trump very much parallels the ridicule heaped on people who supported Reagan in his first campaign. There may be some who deny it but I lived through it. In fact, if you wanted to sound “smart” and “nuanced” you simply had to mock Reagan and his voters as a lunatic and a bunch of zombies respectively.

Does any of this sound familiar?

People say we’re angry. We might be, but mostly we want our country to be great again. We do. And America as a great country benefits everyone in the world. We’re tired of being told what horrible, racist, sexist, xenophobic people we are when at our core we are none of those things. We’re tired of electing people to do things which they promise to do and then immediately welch on as soon as they get their golden ticket. We’re tired of people in elite circles tsking at us and treating us as if we don’t have the ability to think critically like they do. That we don’t know any better and we’re easily led. Well I have news for those “experts” and “elites” and kingmakers.
Guess what? We know better. You’ve tried this before too many times. Get ready to get Trumped.