Is Donald Trump the Duck Dynasty Version of Reagan?

The most popular take on Donald Trump is that we’ve never seen anything like him before.

But here’s the thing: We have seen something like Trump before -- we saw it with Ronald Reagan.

Now, there are obviously some big surface-level differences between Reagan and Trump. Reagan’s public persona was cool, calm, and collected; Trump’s is well, the exact opposite. Reagan had years of political experience before he ran for president; Trump has none. Reagan also was also deeply religious, or at least "spiritual" (he didn't go to church); Trump, I don’t think, has ever had a spiritual thought in his life.

But if you ignore those obvious differences and focus on how Trump is running and framing his campaign, you’ll see that he’s doing the exact same thing Reagan did, only in a style more appropriate for today. In 1980, Republican voters liked button-down politicians; today, they're looking for something more down-home. Trump, arguably, is the Duck Dynasty version of Reagan.

Like Reagan, he’s selling a mythology, the mythology of American greatness and American exceptionalism. Trump’s version of this mythology is a bit more macho than Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” sales-pitch of American greatness, but that’s a difference of tone, not of content.

At its core, Trump’s campaign, like Reagan’s campaign, is selling voters the idea that America, although the best damn country in the world, has fallen on dark times and needs its greatness "restored."

For Reagan, of course, all this mythology was just cover for what he and his far-right buddies really wanted to do: deregulated the economy, cut taxes for the rich, and help the billionaire class regain control of our political system. He and his supporters were looters, and they've looted the middle class over these past three decades to the tune of trillions of dollars in both income and wealth.

Reaganism and Reaganomics was a scam, a scam that we’re still trying to get ourselves out of.

And now, Trump is preparing to run pretty much the exact same scam, only thirty-six years later.

Like Reagan, Trump’s created an image of himself as an outsider who’s the only guy ready to take on the out-of-touch political elites who were running this country down. And just like Reagan, his real interests lie with the billionaire class; perhaps more-so, given that he's a billionaire himself.

Case in point: the people he’s brought on to help him rewrite his tax plan.

That plan was originally revealed back in September, but has come under fire recently after a report showed that it would add over ten trillion dollars to the deficit.

So, in response, Trump changed the plan by raising its proposed rate on the very, very rich from his originally suggested 25 percent to 28 percent, which is still a big drop from the current tax rate for the very rich -- 39.6 percent. And, by the way, when he said a few days ago that the rich would "pay more," he's now clarified that me meant "more than 25%," not more than the current 39.6%. He's still proposing to cut his own class's taxes by millions.

Other changes are expected to come over the next few weeks.

Still, the policy details of Trump’s tax plan are less important than the two guys he’s hired to help him rewrite it: Larry Kudlow of CNBC, and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

These guys are literally the old Reagan Republican establishment.

They’re Reaganites to the core, and the fact that they’ve teamed up with the Trump campaign should end any illusions about Trump’s status as an outsider.

Expect more of this kind of stuff as the election goes on.

Republicans aren’t stupid -- they know that Trump’s populist appeal is a winning formula, especially against someone like Hillary Clinton, who’s the definition of an establishment insider.

Trump isn’t stupid, either. He knows that his real interests lie with the billionaire class (he’s part of it, after all) and he knows that he’ll need its help if he wants to get elected.

I could be wrong, but everything points to the Republican Party shaping Trump in its image, and not the other way around.

All the populist slogans will still be there, just as they were with Reagan, but slowly but surely, they’ll become attached to policies that have nothing to do with populism and everything to do with making the very, very rich even richer.

Karl Marx once said that “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Well, with Trump the tragedy and farce are happening at the same time. I saw this act before with Ronald Reagan, and it’s not a good one.

It’s a scam, and when Reagan ran it, it destroyed so much that was good about this country.

Trump will do the same thing.

Don’t buy what he’s selling: it's not what it seems.


J.J. Zucal 7 years 2 weeks ago

I hadn't thought of this comparison. Reagan deceived us, but at least he did it with the appearance of some class.

My scariest thought, as it was with Ted Cruz, is visual: imagine Trump shaking hands with Cameron, Hollande or Merkel (especially Cameron, since many Britons want to slap Trump upside the head for his comments related to the Muslim refugee situation).

Now imagine Clinton or Sanders shaking hands with them. Thank goodness Democrats have two candidates who would be respected throughout the world.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 2 weeks ago

Personally, I find the comparisons of Trump to Hitler more accurate. For that matter, recent events in this country remind me of the build up to Nazism in Germany before the war. Folks, find an unedited copy of "Judgment At Nuremberg" and study the trial testimony; you'll see the similarities for yourself.

Roytwo's picture
Roytwo 7 years 2 weeks ago

This is a MAD TV skit from long ago. Did they foresee Trump?

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 2 weeks ago

If all you say about Trump is true, then I don't understand why other Republicans have such a problem with him. Seems like his "Hidden Agenda" is exactly what they want. Maybe it's all an act. They just want to be able to say later that when Trump ultimately disappoints us, that they can then say that they saw the red flags.

cccccttttt 7 years 2 weeks ago

The problem with nationalism is it can range from a healthy national pride

to the extreme behavior seen in Germany, Italy, and Japan before the wars.

Ask yourself, "what has the US done to be proud of in the last 20 years?"

Its clear US citizens need a change of course and a boost in national pride.

So granting that Trump could overdue the medicine, there are many independents

such as myself, who see him as the best second choice after Sanders.


2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 2 weeks ago

Our right wing corpse media deserves much of the credit for the birth of the abomination known as Don Trump. He's easily the most dangerous man on the planet right now, and the rest of the world knows it. This is what happens when a democracy allows concentration of wealth to get to a point where that wealth enables a megalomaniac such as Trump to rise to power. Climate Change, Trump, take your pick, either way the world is in deep sh.... Fascism is now a bald faced reality! Look up the meaning if you think ole 10K is just being bombastic.

The Glenn Beck Review's picture
The Glenn Beck ... 7 years 2 weeks ago

Is Hillary Cliton the vagina version of Senator McCain? Bernie or busters think so.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 2 weeks ago

Fascism is here... now!

It is in our midst and under our nose... can you see under your nose?

And, we are blinded to see the BS and propaganda for which it is famous that by which it succeeds

Bandy Legged Marsupial Cave Rabbi's picture
Bandy Legged Ma... 7 years 2 weeks ago

Thom - please read my newest entry in my member blog - I think I might actually be onto an idea that you will like. It's simple and brief.

dianhow 7 years 2 weeks ago

After many months of proclaiming himself ' self funded ' and independant

TRump is now taking money from hugely wealthy ' donors'

Kicking Muslims out of USA ? Nope now he says That was ' just a suggestion' BS

Choosing Chris Christie to run his campaign etc YUCK

Expecting Mexico to pay for a border fence ? NOT SO MUCH

Typical PHONY

dianhow 7 years 2 weeks ago

Trump 2nd BEST CHOICE ? Think of future Supreme Court appointments .. anti middle class / pro wealth laws ( Citizens United ) which will affect US for decades. Trump is already back tracking NO longer self funded. Taking' donations from billionaires. Horrid comment ' kicking Muslims out of US ' That was ' just a suggestion LIAR Trump is the antithesis of Sanders ( who has integrity & character )

RepubliCult's picture
RepubliCult 7 years 2 weeks ago

Poor Donald: Everyday is a bad hair day. :)

Policy-wise he is in the clutches of the Reagan legacy overlords, who are working to remake Trump in his image, just as Reagan was remade from the 1976 crazy nut into a 1980 schizoid creature: warm preacher for God, guns and grit then moments later the voodoo economics patron and angry liar declaring, "No negotiations with terrorists of any kind" or butcher of English with "You ain't seen nuttin' yet." Meanwhile the republican establishment invokes his name daily, even sometimes quoting him, hoping to conjur the graven images of Reagan to fool Americans that the mythological Reagan has risen to again make our country great. Hence forward prepare to hear the name "Reagan" mentioned more than other republican president's name combined.

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