I believe that a false myth of Reagan as merely a “sunny optimist” has taken hold of the Republican Party and is employed roboticly by the less-than-stellar intellects running for President. Thus, they trip over themselves to imagine the later years of the 21st Century as a time of peace, prosperity, and moral renewal vouchsafed by a Republican victory.
In the meantime, our industrial base is hollowed out, our people are being reengineered through immigration policy, we have tanks on the streets and Jihadis gunning down their coworkers, we have sailors in hijabs and on their knees in the Persian Gulf, we have an $18T debt that threatens the whole country with financial collapse, we have another party that cannot even agree that “all lives matter,” and there is a sense among us “legacy Americans” that life is coarser, more difficult, less prosperous, less hopeful, and more uncertain than ever before. We’re scared, we’re angry, we’re confused, and we want it to stop. Trump gets that. Bush with his call for remaining chummy with the Saudis and immigration being an act of love, and Rubio with his open borders and free trade fanaticism do not. And their tone is off. They want to be cheerful amid squalor, while putting down the righteous anger and frustration of the rest of us, as channeled by Trump.
Reagan, in fact, was not the sunny optimist of memory. His optimism was tied to a belief that a traditional, free market oriented America could outpace and undo the Soviet Union. He was right, but before that was made evident, he was hated, much as Trump was, for his alleged simplicity and bellicosity. Remember, he called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire,” when a nuclear freeze and “peaceful coexistence” were all the rage. He deployed Pershing missiles to Europe and expanded our nuclear arsenal amid great resistance. He slapped down Libya and Grenada and the Soviets in Afghanistan, and he fired all the striking air traffic controllers, and he did these “mean” things because he had a philosophic vision coupled with an instinctual love of the American people, whom he understood.
While he had principles, he was a sensible pragmatist. He pulled out of Lebanon, when that fiasco was heading nowhere fast. And he approved the Chrysler bailout, because he knew Americans needed jobs, a pretty basic concept, which eludes the Rubios and Jebs of the world. In contrast to Reagan, today’s GOP peddles a saccharine, content-free, and out-of-touch optimism, untied to anything but their slavish devotion to Wall Street and their donors. They have mechanical slogans and SSRI smiles, and they’re losing, because the rest of us are justifiably pissed off, and we’ve seen this movie before. It ends with George W. pushing amnesty, stagnant wages, and “optimistic” wars to democratize the Middle East, which only deserves American bombs, not our best efforts.
Before we fix American politics, we must do something Reagan understandably did not see in full relief: We must prevent the genocide of the American people through stopping mass immigration and its handmaiden, a hostile, redistributionist government.