Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bizarro Reagan

If you're familiar with DC comics, you're probably familiar with the perverted version of Superman known as Bizarro. If not, this blurb from the DC comics website will give you the idea:
Everyone can understand the fear of seeing your beliefs and ideals become twisted and deformed—of seeing everything you stand for reflected darkly back at you. Unfortunately for Superman, and the world itself, he experiences this very thing every single time he faces Bizarro.
An imperfect clone of Superman, Bizarro possesses all of the hero's amazing abilities and none of his moral restraints...
There are a number of memes making the social media rounds that draw equivalencies between Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. When I first saw one of these it just struck me as ridiculous. But like so many things that have seemed absurd in recent months, it wasn't long before it became obvious that people were serious. People are really holding up a mirror to Donald Trump and recognizing Ronald Reagan in some sort of twisted fun-house like reflection. So let's take a look at some of these similarities.
  • Both were democrats before switching to the GOP
The point that is overlooked in this comparison is that Reagan was actually a champion of conservatism for a couple of decades before seeking the presidency. He was an active participant in the Goldwater campaign, and he was a Republican Governor prior to running for president. Donald Trump has never been a champion of conservatism. Donald Trump has never used his enormous wealth and influence to advance any cause but his own. His support of liberal politicians is well known. His supporters parrot his assertions that such support was necessary to be successful in his business, even though other equally wealthy businessmen have not had to similarly support politicians or causes they claim to ideologically oppose. Reagan's path from democrat to conservative is clearly traceable, Donald Trump's is not.
  • Both opposed illegal immigration 
Illegal immigration was a problem in the 80s, but it was not the problem it is today. A notable distinction between the two men is that Reagan eventually understood his support of  amnesty to have been a regretable mistake, where Trump sees legalization as something that he must support.
  • Both had divorces
This is usually presented in the context of diminishing the relevance of divorce because Reagan was a great president and he had a divorce. The difference is that Reagan's divorce was not his choice. Reagan's first wife had an affair. Her response to his attempts to reconcile was to publicly humiliate and divorce him. Reagan was devastated over it. The cruelty with which Trump treated Ivana during their breakup is more reminiscent of that which Reagan received than anything he dished out. At no time in Reagan's life is there any indication that his views regarding the sanctity of marriage resemble those of Donald Trump.
  • Telling it like it is
Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan are both known for a no nonsense style in expressing themselves, but Trump is unlikely to ever be dubbed "The Great Communicator". Ronald Reagan displayed class and character in everything he did. He was a statesman. Joking about a woman on her knees being a pretty picture, mocking an opponent's faith, harassing and threatening people that don't defer to him, and numerous examples of crude statements are things that we would never associate with Ronald Reagan. They are simply routine for Trump.
There are others, but they're all just pointless. If someone is going to go to the trouble to justify support of Trump by comparing him to Reagan, while Ted Cruz is actually in the race, there isn't much anyone can do to iron out the ironies for them. The parts of our nature that Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan appeal to are not remotely related. For the objective voter, the servant leader and the strongman provide lessons in contrast, not similarity. The attempts to assert the opposite dishonor the memory of Ronald Reagan - a great President, and a good man.

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