Trump is not Reagan, he’s Teddy Roosevelt

By Gina Loudon

The 2016 presidential election cycle, particularly but not exclusively on the Republican side, will be known as the rise of the rebellious anti-establishment fervor.

Resolve has taken root and blossomed into the body politic like never before – call it the American spring.

Average citizens in both parties know what they do not want. They are fed up with the ruling class, which seems to have no soul. The pitched battle now is over what partisans really want in terms of their standard bearer. For Republicans, always in search of the next Reagan, none of the three remaining candidates fill the bill. In fact, no one on the scene at any level seems to have those almost mythical Reaganesque qualities. It may be that another paradigm is in order.

It is almost sad to watch Ted Cruz. On paper, he is as solid as conservatives come as conservatism is generally defined. He certainly went to Washington and delivered on the promise to challenge the status quo. He knows the Constitution we all claim to support, better than most of us. Yet somehow, his style – the sense that he is, in fact, the smartest guy in every room – is a drag on him. Reagan and even Clinton had a way of making every man feel he was the most important person in the room.

John Kasich has failed to catch on because we know who he is. He is, in fact, as establishment as it comes. Enough said.

Then there is the Donald. Never has there been so much vitriol from the political right against one of their own as there has been against Trump. Certainly, he asked for much of it with his own caustic style. We love him when he belittles the media, but we squirm a little every time he uses monikers like “Lying Ted.”

It just is not what Republicans do. So it is understandable that a guy claiming to be a Republican is met with suspicion. He just does not really smell like one of us, no matter what his words are.

It is natural to be fearful of what we do not know. Certainly, we are not sure we really know the Donald. He is an enigma.

In seeking to understand something new, people need to form associations in their minds. Sometimes we meet total strangers, and we are just drawn to them. Maybe they look like an old friend or remind us of an actor who played a character we loved. Associations can be helpful.

For Republicans to come together, we are going to have to find a way to get beyond our fears and unite behind the next Republican nominee. I will save Ted Cruz for another column; for now, I want to offer an association for Donald Trump.

Gina Loudon teams up with her fellow Politichicks in their first blockbuster, “What Women Really Want” — available at the WND Superstore

Americans once enjoyed a president who was wildly popular, known to dare great feats. He was usually the manliest man in the room and devoted to healthy living. He was and is still looked at with some suspicion, as his ideas did not always fit the common Republican definitions. He took on the monied interests and fought them even though he was seen by many as one of them. He was raised with a silver spoon, from New York City. He was Teddy Roosevelt, the gasp, “progressive.”

A longtime friend and very trusted ally, a colleague of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, confided that he was on board with Trump even before she was. He told me he finds little better judge of a man’s character than their fruit – their children.

On the Trumps, he knows Eric best and quoted him thusly, “My father told us kids one thing every day of our lives, ‘Do not smoke, drink or do drugs, ever.'” Who knew the socialite, the Donald to be a tea-totaller? Like Roosevelt, personal health is paramount to Trump and likely contributes to his personal success. In any given room, all of Trump’s synapses are firing likely because he spends no leisure time killing them.

Many point to Trump’s business bankruptcies as evidence of weakness. Roosevelt, who as secretary of the Navy personally led the charge of San Juan Hill, had perhaps the greatest critique of such finger pointers. In his “Man in the Arena” speech he observed:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Like Roosevelt, Trump is a New York City blue blood. How could he relate to us when he is one of them? Could he secretly be an establishment plant? Maybe. He also might be a Hillary plant, a vile schemer conspiring to throw the election to his friends because all he cares about is money. Let us remove our tinfoil hats for a second and consider Roosevelt.

He was fully one of them, the rich elites, and also the one most noted for standing up to them. He knew the perverse incentives in a truly Adam Smith, laissez faire economy better than most of us because they were his friends, and even he had used them. Yet, Roosevelt found a role for government intervention – a massive, unprecedented role. What a bad Republican he was! Progressive!

Roosevelt broke up monopolies and stood up to the super wealthy. He set a precedent that is carried out every day.

Just this week, Greta Van Susteren used her platform on Fox News to express her support for Obama administration efforts to prevent the merger of office supply giants Staples and Office Depot. Is she a wild-eyed progressive to be feared? These are policy decisions on the details of what it means to be a conservative, a patriot who loves the Constitution. These are not core beliefs.

Republicans love to expand the list of core beliefs. The mind of the conservative wants order and wants to see everything in black and white.

Sometimes there is gray.

Even Ronald Reagan presided over the breakup up the “Bell” phone companies. The explosion of small carriers and new choices for consumers was unprecedented. Was Reagan a big-government progressive? Recognizing a role for government is what defines Republicans versus anarchists, libertarians or Whigs.

Trump talks about a government role in putting America first in trade deals, and Wall Street establishment types freak out, warning against protectionism and tariffs. Protectionism used to be a defining Republican characteristic. So was isolationism. I generally support a robust international military presence by the United States, but I have room in my party for those who are not afraid to say that the war in Iraq was a bad idea. Does that view make Trump “unfit for the office”?

Trump has captured so much imagination in America because he is fully Republican on the core issues even when his plans lack the detail the pundits tell us we should demand.

He has staked the strongest positions on the core issues that unite us, like total commitment to a strong national defense and strong trade deals. While others talk of comprehensive immigration policy, Trump will make Mexico pay for the wall. Nothing is more at the heart of conservatism than security, and he has nailed it. On individual liberty, Trump swore allegiance to religious liberty and gun rights and is so committed to extending constitutional protection to the unborn that he dared to suggest some punishment of the un-pregnant woman might be in order.

On the core issues, Trump is unwavering. On the details, he is his own man, like Roosevelt.

Gina Loudon teams up with her fellow Politichicks in their first blockbuster, “What Women Really Want” — available at the WND Superstore

 

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