The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California was host to a recent address by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
He advanced the notion that former presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump share common roots in the GOP.
Even a cursory examination of their basic policy views would indicate that the two presidents, though similar in their love of country, and in their heartfelt desire to keep America strong, could not be more discordant in the execution of their policies.
On economic policy, Reagan believed that a large federal government did nothing to solve America’s basic problems. As he noted in his first Inaugural address, "Government is not the answer to our problems. Government is the problem."
While he failed to moderate domestic expenditures entirely, domestic discretionary spending under Reagan rose very little during his time in office.
Trump, by contrast, never made federal spending a priority nor did he make a case for a smaller, more focused federal government.
As a result, the federal budget grew substantially during his tenure.
Reagan always celebrated the individual over the state and expressed this sentiment often in his speeches. Again, from his first Inaugural address, "Freedom and dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth."
The American Revolution was a cause of individuality, not collectivism and he believed fervently in the people: "Trust the people" he was often heard to say.
Reagan frequently employed humor to make a point: "Socialism only works in two place — Heaven where they don’t need it and Hell where they already have it."
However, he never used humor to demean an opponent or an idea; he used it to build on his argument. He knew the importance of "We" the people and never took credit alone for his accomplishments.
On foreign policy, Reagan stood four square for freedom, opposed Soviet expansionism, and preached representative democracy to a world hungry for freedom.
He established relationships, always from strength, as when he demanded of Mikhail Gorbachav, during his speech at the Brandenburg Gate (June 12, 1987), "Tear down this wall."
Trump was critical of many Reagan foreign policies and later used his time in office to praise dictators such as North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin believing that mere friendship would lead to mutual agreements.
Reagan wisely knew otherwise.
With regard to style: Reagan was open, cheerful, thoughtful and focused on bringing more adherents to the conservative cause. True, Trump had his many successes for which he can be proud, but he was at times unfocused, and more than willing to divide Americans in pursuit of short term political gain.
We saw up close and personal — what a great president Ronald Reagan truly was, arguably one of our greatest. His common sense genius was summed up in one observation: "If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"
Sen. Cotton and others do not always see the unique qualities of "Reaganism."
Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump both believed/believe in the decency and the importance of a strong America, one with secure borders; however, the means and methods of achieving their goals were worlds apart.
Another way of looking at all of this — simply put — they lived in different times.
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer, presidential historian, and four-time best-selling author. His most recent book is ''Mary Ball Washington,''a definitive biography of George Washington's mother. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.
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