With all the talk of Trump abandoning his campaign promises (and I’m certainly upset about that myself), and the diminishing fervor for the “god emperor,” there’s another right-wing “sacred cow” that I would like to take down a few pegs, and that’s one that Mr. Trump himself mentioned idealistically in one of his speeches. Namely…
Can we all just admit Ronald Reagan was a pretty crappy president?
I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I’m, by my own admission, something of a “disgruntled liberal” whose views gradually turned rightward after being disillusioned with liberalism, but having noticed that mainstream American conservatism is turning more towards a paleoconservative slant (or rather, it was supposed to with the election of Trump), I still don’t get why Reagan is treated with kid gloves, and I want to address why nobody sees this.
What is it about President Reagan that made him such a conservative icon—indeed, what made him so conservative at all?
Was it the amnesty he declared, the first of many amnesties for illegal immigrants that showed that America rewards illegal immigration and has undeniably led to the broken immigration system that we have in this country today? Objectively speaking, he failed to conserve the demography of the United States.
(And yes, I’m aware that Nixon started the war on drugs. That doesn’t change the fact that I’ve always had a begrudging respect for him; happy to play realpolitik in third world countries and occasionally handing the common rabble the occasional legislation such as OSHA. And yet for that and ending the Vietnam War, he’s caricatured as “the evil Republican”…)
Or was it when he ran budget deficits in every department, signed new gun control laws, and had a clear record of pointless hatred of the environment?
(As another side note, I do feel that nature conservation can be conservative to an extent, and not just because they share a root word. Need I remind you that many of the early conservationists were Republicans?)
Indeed, a cursory analysis will show that a lot of what we hate about modern America can be directly or indirectly traced back to The Gipper: It was his administration that encouraged downsizing and outsourcing, stagnating wages and forcing families to become two-wage households just to get by (so much for family values), all for the benefit of the super-wealthy, most of whom who have long since become “money shufflers” that don’t produce anything of value—or even employ that many people— which puts to pat the “trickle down economics” idea.
It was his administration that diverted money to unusable military programs that weren’t supposed to do anything other than line the pockets of defense industry bureaucrats and pad the resumes of armchair generals. So every time the F-35 plane underperforms in testing, just think of the Star Wars initiative and realize how far back this goes.
The fact that everything and everyone that sucks about the modern Republican Party, from slavish billionaire worshipers (said billionaires are almost all for open borders, might I add) to interventionist chicken hawks to the people hawking Common Core in the school, absolutely loves Ronald Reagan, should illustrate something I have been feeling in recent years:
Ronald Reagan wasn’t anything that his devotees claim he was. In fact, he was the first cuckservative.
Frankly, the best thing about the Reagan years was that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career could have only been launched in that decade of glorious excess, as well as the filmic careers of a dozen other musclebound sociopaths (just to repeat: I did explicitly state that the best thing about the Reagan years was something that Ronnie had absolutely nothing to do with). The teenage boy in me hopes that at the very least, the Trump presidency will lead to the rebirth of hard-R action movies. But considering how the cultural zeitgeist is, I have my doubts.
So, what do we make of this in comparison to Donald Trump? I’m not afraid of the left wing hysteria that Trump will bring about World War 3, but I am afraid that he’ll be Reagan 2.0, and be a smiling douchebag who venally ruins what good remains in this country.