Trump is not Reagan; he's Lincoln
In an article titled "The Lincoln Model: How Trump Can Shut Down the Democrat Plantation," which must be considered the most insightful – or the boldest – of the year so far, Dinesh D'Souza links Lincoln and Trump. Who knew?
First, D'Souza has to allay the fears of conservatives who yearn for the days of gentlemanly politics during the Reagan administration. This yearning is not realistic today and will get us nowhere, because "we are where we are." It is time to fight. Yes, Reagan fought the left, but the Democrats were saner back then, seen by Tip O'Neill, who was willing to work with Reagan.
I came of age in the Reagan area, and I too prefer a more civil political climate. But that is not the America we live in now. Reagan's policies and style were perfectly calibrated to deal with the specific problems and specific political environment of the late 1970s. Today, however, a good deal of Reaganism is obsolete. Not only has stagflation disappeared and the Soviet Union collapsed but Reagan himself would be a fish out of water in the dark, roiled currents of today.
But Lincoln wouldn't. His political environment was even more roiled than the one we have now. And Lincoln would have seen that, in this environment, an environment made by a gangster clan of Democrats like Obama and Hillary, you don't get very far with Reagan's gentlemanly style. In short, Trump is the man of the hour, not Reagan. Trump has the chance to do what Reagan never even dreamed about, taking a page from Lincoln and smashing the Democratic plantation.
When President Trump first announced his candidacy, I yearned for him to leave. It was a publicity stunt. However, the outcome on the election day and, most importantly, his policies outcomes proved me wrong (to date). I misjudged the times we are living in now – with gangsta Democrats. They are the one who have "roiled" American politics, and by comparison, the GOP were the only gentlemen and gentlewomen left. Too polite, too courteous, however. Admirable qualities, but still they must fight – fight while smiling and saying, "Thank you," and "God bless you," as they debate and rip the Democrat's head off.
For D'Souza, where Lincoln and Trump align is on two issues: tariffs and immigration. Lincoln favored protecting a young America's interest as this nation launched out into the oceans. Trump does, too, and recently scored a victory for our side when Europe blinked. As for immigration, D'Souza has to say Lincoln favored freeing the slaves at the start of the Civil War and only gradually favored extending civil rights to them. From this fact – or his interpretation of this belief about Lincoln – he concludes that Lincoln would have been a strong proponent of limiting immigration. That is a leap – but is it a leap too far?
The most striking paragraph is this one, in which he mentions the Stockholm syndrome among conservative intellectuals.
For too long conservatives and Republicans have allowed big lies to take over the culture and, in some cases, their minds. This progressive cultural hegemony has polluted our education system and our media with fake narratives and fake history. It has also created a kind of Stockholm syndrome among conservative intellectuals. "In our hearts we know we're wrong." But we're not wrong. We've been lied to. It's time for us to stop apologizing – we have nothing to apologize for – and go on the offensive. Truth is our deadliest weapon, if we will deploy it.
When I was putting myself through graduate school, I wrestled with conservatism and liberalism. I never left conservative philosophy, but I may have been suffering from a minor case of Stockholm syndrome. "In my heart I know I'm wrong about conservatism." Or "In my heart conservatism makes the most sense of the world." Mental tennis match. Progressive cultural hegemony polluted my mind, up to a point. I returned to conservatism long ago.
To key off what D'Souza wrote, I was wrong about Trump – or I let his deficient personality and rhetorical skills blind me to what conservatism really needed: a fighter. I caught a glimpse of it when he climbed a fence and stomped through sage brush to get to an arena, because the howling left had blocked his limo during the campaign. But I dismissed this gesture. Maybe Reagan would have done it, because he did walk on to a University of California campus when protesters were there. But they kept silent and made a path for him. Would he have stomped through the brush? Tough to say. But one gets the impression that Lincoln would have – since he had lived a hardscrabble life.
To sum up, one area where Lincoln and Trump are definitely aligned is that they are both fighters. Lincoln was willing to sacrifice thousands and thousands of lives to preserve the Union. Thankfully, Trump does not have to wage a military civil war, but he is preserving the Union in small ways and big ways: SCOTUS nominees, tax cuts, reining in the bureaucracy, being tough on Russia (he really is), and negotiating with a man-child named Kim.
D'Souza capitalized on this similarity, too.