Is Trump Reagan?

Guy Exton

Trump supporters love to compare the current President to President Reagan. ey may have a point.

On the surface, the lives of the current and former President are remarkably similar. Neither were career politicians, Reagan was a B-grade actor and Trump a C-grade television host. Reagan was the oldest President in history – before Trump was elected. Both were Democrats before being elected as Republicans, and both even used the slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Dig a little deeper, and the seemingly perfect similarities that Trump supporters love to in ate begin to buckle. Reagan was Governor of California, President of the Screen Actors Guild and increasingly ideologically charged throughout his career before running for the Presidency. e closest Trump got to politics before he took the plunge in 2015 was to claim that Obama was born in Africa – because, you know, he’s black. Reagan was born into a Democratic family before evolving into a Republican. e current President has been a member of the Republican, Independence and Democratic party. If you’re American, that’s all of them.

Recently in his rst solo press conference as President, Trump casually declared that his 306 vote win was “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” It was not. anks to the press – and the 1st amendment – a reporter was quick to rebut that “In fact, President Obama got 365… and George H.W. Bush 426.” Despite Trump’s glaring ignorance and impressive ability to lie, he was right about one thing: Ronald Reagan’s massive win. In 1981, Reagan won 44 states, 489 electoral votes and the popular vote by 8.5 million. Skip forward to 2016 and President Trump loses the popular vote by 2.5 million votes. One of the biggest di erences between the two men is their popularity – and honesty about it.

Despite this massive margin in public approval, it is surprising that Trump will probably have far more power than Reagan ever did. For all 8 years of Reagan’s Presidency, the House of Representatives was in Democratic hands. e pedigree of the 1980 Republican was considerably to the le of today’s bunch. Compare this to a radically conservative House, Senate and White House that Trump gets to play with. Trump has already had the opportunity to appoint another conservative to the Supreme Court bench, and with two liberal justices hovering around the 80-year-old mark, Trump may have an opportunity to create a 2:7 liberal to conservative ratio. For all Trump’s talk of his ability to negotiate, he won’t have to use it nearly as much as Reagan did.

Hidden under this pile of di erences, however, lies an unambiguous similarity.

Republicans like to focus on the theory and romance of Reagan rather than the fact that 7 million additional people became homeless under his administration, that he lost a surplus and created a de cit of over $USD 1 trillion, he traded arms for hostages with Iran or the fact that taking a more aggressive stance with the Soviet Union was a 50/50 between victory and obliteration.

Perhaps in that respect, Trump is most similar to Reagan: his supporters are remarkably willing to overlook reality and fact, and believe in the man they want to see.

Guy Exton is a second year Arts student, studying politics and history. As a Political Cartoonist and regular columnist for Woroni, Guy focuses on the world of international politics with Trump in charge.