In his latest salvo, Jeff is trying to sell us that Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan are two of a kind where it concerns their political evolution. He argues that if Reagan can go from supporting Hubert Humphrey bid’s for the Senate to launching his own bid in the California gubernatorial race in the space of 17 years that Trump ought to be allowed to change his mind on abortion and a litany of other matters over the space of 17 years. Jeff writes, “From being a New York liberal he is now the frontrunner in the fight against the GOP Establishment that Reagan himself battled furiously and finally defeated.”
This is rubbish and Jeff knows it.
Reagan’s gradual evolution from liberal to conservative came about as a result of a) being in a high tax bracket north of 90%, b) his experiences with Communists who infiltrated the unions during his time as President of the Screen Actors Guild and c) his travels around the country as a spokesman for General Electric in which he interacted with small business people frustrated with over regulation and red tape.
Yet Trump has no troubles soaking the rich (albeit not the 90% Bernie Sanders has entertained restoring), has praised unions and Vladimir Putin with equal measure and has no problem with the imposition of heavy handed regulations like eminent domain for his personal gain which he calls “wonderful”. Small businesses and homeowners would not agree with that assessment.
Reagan’s journey to conservatism came through serious introspection thought. He read Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Fredrich Bastiat’s The Law, and Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. Somehow I doubt Trump is any more familiar with Chambers than he is with Corinthians.
For that matter, I would like the panel at the next GOP debate to ask which of the candidates has ever given money to Hillary Clinton much less ever said, “I know Hillary & I think she’d make a great President.” Only one hand on that stage would be raised.
I would agree that it ought not matter that we change our minds. But what does matter is the reason for which our minds are changed. Ronald Reagan changed his mind about liberalism out of conviction while Donald Trump changed his mind about liberalism out of convenience.
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