For decades now, the Republican Party has considered itself the party of Ronald Reagan. The cold warrior president has become almost farcically mythologized on the right, all of his numerous sins whitewashed and his victories exaggerated.
Given that Reagan was an actor before he became a politician, it makes sense that his party would eventually embrace a reality TV star as its figurehead. The party of Reagan has become the party of Trump, flushing away the values it once purported to uphold in the process. Even with that inevitability baked in, there is a nonsignificant faction within the GOP that hates what their party has become and pines for the days of the Gipper.
Today, June 5th, marks the anniversary of Reagan’s death. In preparation, his daughter Patti Davis wrote a piece for The Washington Post that explores her thoughts on the state of the country under our current commander-in-chief.
Entitled “Mourning America: What my father, Ronald Reagan, would say today,” the piece is far from laudatory when it comes to the Trump administration. Davis calls attention to Congress’s failure to act even as Trump actively works to undermine our democratic institutions in his bid to consolidate power.
“He would be appalled and heartbroken at a Congress that refuses to stand up to a president who not only seems ignorant of the Constitution but who also attempts at every turn to dismantle and mock our system of checks and balances,” she wrote.
While Davis admits she didn’t always agree with her father and they often butted heads over his policies, she still finds wisdom in some of the things he said to her. He warned of the way in which nations can be divided and turned against themselves, which is a strategy Trump used to get into the White House. It’s one he continues to use as he exploits culture war issues to divide Americans and distract from his regressive agenda.
“Countries can be splintered from within, he would say. It’s a sinister form of destruction that can happen gradually if people don’t realize that our Constitution will protect us only if the principles of that document are adhered to and defended,” Davis writes.
Davis also said her father would have recognized Trump’s hateful language for the destructive force it represents. It degrades and weakens the United States.
“He would plead with Americans to recognize that the caustic, destructive language emanating from our current president is sullying the dream that America once was. And in a time of increased tensions in the world, playing verbal Russian roulette is not leadership, it’s madness.”
No indictment of the Trump administration would be complete without a discussion of the disgusting ways in which Trump has weaponized xenophobia and unfairly targeted immigrant communities in a stark betrayal of this country’s founding principles. Davis takes him to task for it.
“He would ask us to think about the Statue of Liberty and the light she holds for immigrants coming to America for a better life. Immigrants like his ancestors, who persevered despite prejudice and signs that read ‘No Irish or dogs allowed.’ There is a difference between immigration laws and cruelty. He believed in laws; he hated cruelty,” she writes.
While any honest assessment of Ronald Reagan’s legacy will find him lacking in many departments, one would be hard-pressed to argue that he wasn’t a better president than Trump. Hopefully, his former party one day regains some semblance of sanity.