It’s a little curious how folks are talking so much about the coming of space aliens of late
(because of the government acknowledging a multitude of Unidentified Flying Object sightings in the past two decades) because there’s a different kind of build-up for the potential arrival of a very earth-born human phenomenon.
The reemergence of Ronald Reagan. No, not the actual 40th president, Reagan having passed away around this time on the calendar seventeen years ago. But could someone like The Gipper truly be on the horizon?
The similarities between the 1970’s and the early months of Joe Biden’s presidency, 2021, are noteworthy, and to many, uncanny. First there’s the onset of Joe Biden-ism, a slow-speaking liberal Democrat president who talks about America in a similarly morbid way as the buck-toothed, straw-haired 39th president, Jimmy Carter, did. The simple man (now 96 years old) from Plains, Georgia, didn’t do a whole lot to promote the greatness of his country, instead seemingly resigning himself and the nation to an inevitable and unstoppable downward slide in history. It was as though Soviet Communism was permanent and the hapless United States was impotent and unable to thwart the decline.
Then there were the other Carter-ian failures like gas lines and shortages, constant conflict in the turbulent Middle East (Iranian hostages?), a crisis at the southern border and the elephant in the room that eventually doomed Jimmy’s presidency, the plagues of inflation, economic malaise and impossibly high interest rates. Senator Ted Cruz said it himself, “We are seeing a reprise of the 1970's, the same failed policies producing the same disastrous results.Except in the rerun, Joe Biden is Jimmy Carter 2.0, and Kamala Harris is Walter Mondale.”
The jury’s still out on Cruz’s Mondale/Harris comparison, but there’s little doubt that Biden is doing his level best to realize the impossible goal of making people remember Jimmy Carter fondly. The post-Nixon “healer” president couldn’t pronounce “nuclear” but he did seem like a good guy once you got him away from trying to run the executive branch. Ditto for the back slappin’, hair sniffin’, shoulders massagin’, child repellin’, nude swimmin’, sexual assault denyin’, bad joke tellin’, electric Ford pickup drivin’, systemic racism poundin’ and fiscal disaster promotin’ swamp creature we now call commander in chief.
Could all of these signs be pointing to the impending arrival of another Ronald Reagan? In a piece titled, “Is Biden's Jimmy Carter Impression an Opportunity for Reagan 2.0?”, Brad Lips wrote at Real Clear Policy:
“Are we in store for another realignment? Might we get something akin to Ronald Reagan Redux in 2024? Fans of smaller government, individual liberty, free enterprise, and robust civil discourse can hope so.
“If we want to do more than hope, however, we need to create a popular demand for a big course correction in our politics. We need to rearticulate — and demonstrate wherever possible — how the principles of smaller government, individual liberty, free enterprise, and robust civil discourse provide for a far more inclusive America here at home and a freer, more prosperous and peaceful world generally.
“And finally, the realization of a consequential political realignment or Reagan Redux will require that – rather than leading with big personalities, loyalty tests, and gotcha party politics — we lead with big, bold ideas that address our social, political, and economic challenges in ways that energize and inspire a broad cross-section of Americans.”
He didn’t exactly state it, but Lips strongly implied that that the savior candidate he’s describing isn’t Donald Trump. Let’s see… “big personalities” -- Trump. “Loyalty tests” -- Trump. “Gotcha party politics” -- not necessarily Trump, but the establishment GOP would fit the category. “Big, bold ideas” … well, Trump had them, but was never given credit for being a forward thinker. It’s a shame… and not really accurate.
Lips’ is an extremely interesting premise, one that was bound to be made by someone at some point, partly due to Biden’s goofy incompetence but primarily because the two 40-plus-years-apart Democrats turned or are in the process of turning prosperity on its head to advance policies that can’t possibly succeed in the long run. Brad provides other historic parallels beyond the obvious Biden/Carter comparison, which must’ve left those who read the column scratching their heads and saying out loud to no one in particular, “Hey, maybe he’s got something here.”
As a dedicated student of history myself, I’m constantly amazed at the predictive power of looking back in time and tracing similar characteristics to the present, then making assumptions about what’s going to happen. Pollsters do it all the time, don’t they?
The Founding Fathers were correct, human nature never changes, and those who neglect the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. The ideological left in twenty-first century America is indeed a lot like other leftist movements of the not-so-distant past. Again, mostly because the nature of totalitarian thought incursions, they don’t differ markedly from their predecessors.
That being said, it’s hard to see things today and surmise that another Ronald Reagan is on the way. The largest reason why the idea’s a fallacy is the absence of another Reagan out there in the political hinterlands to rise up and accept the mantle of liberty leader.
Donald Trump took advantage of a gaping leadership void that presidents from both parties created after Reagan exited in 1989. The Bush presidents presided over foreign wars that brought little tangible benefit to the average American yet entangled the world’s number one military in ill-defined and hopeless quagmires (War on Terror?) and spent trillions of dollars chasing fantasies dreamed up in neoconservative think tanks and downtown Washington DC industrial complex lobbying offices.
Meanwhile, the two two-term Democrat presidents embarked on a culture war that assaulted the bedrock of American tradition (Bill Clinton’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and Obama’s waffling and eventual championing of same-sex marriage as shining examples), while simultaneously promoting vast expansions of the welfare state and the overarching theme that America is flawed and needed to be changed.
Ronald Reagan believed in America’s founding documents and principles. These concepts could always adapt to the changing times but the government could never achieve improvements in citizens’ lives by legislating morality or telling people what to think. The Constitution’s structure and the ideas embedded in the Declaration of Independence is all anyone needs to lead a great life if government would simply stick to its core duties and leave them alone.
Today, government invades every aspect of our lives and at least half the citizenry appears much more open to being governed -- and accepting entitlement checks paid for by someone else -- than they were four decades ago. It’s hard to calculate the damage that politically correct “wokeness” has wreaked on our once proud nation and culture.
Donald Trump did a great job of championing American exceptionalism, and if he gets another chance at the Oval Office, could complete much of the unfinished work from his first term. But it’s still not clear whether he’s electable after last year’s disappointment and the subsequent horrible public relations catastrophes. Likewise, there are a number of promising GOP presidential candidate possibilities, though none stand out quite like Reagan did in 1976 and 1980.
Joe Biden may be a Jimmy Carter clone, yet we haven’t observed a Republican in Ronald Reagan’s mold. Reagan was a once-in-a-lifetime combination of principles coupled with an actor’s skilled delivery and believability. Could someone like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or Senator Josh Hawley elevate his political “game” to The Gipper’s level?
Time will tell. In the meantime, we’ll need to remain vigilant to ensure that the Jimmy Carter of the twenty-first century doesn’t wreck the country to an almost non-revivable state of distress. Can we do it?
1970s gas shortages
Joe Biden policies
Colonial pipeline closure