The Rains of Conservatism

August 2, 2016

It’s official: Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s nominee for president of the United States.

The New York businessman and former reality television star has led a movement across the country to ‘make America great again.’ This is not the first time an entertainer has led a movement and become the Republican nominee for president. In 1980, former actor and California Governor Ronald Reagan led a movement to ‘make America great again.’

Many people have commented that Trump is the second coming of Reagan. On the surface it would seem like these two influential figures have much in common. Both had careers as entertainers before entering politics; both were registered Democrats before switching to the Republican Party; and both were able to have people gravitate toward them with their charisma. But that is where the similarities end.

Reagan led a conservative movement that focused on the ideal of limited government, a focus on individual freedom, and a desire for America to be a leader of freedom and democracy around the world.

Trump’s movement has been quite different. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump mentioned the word freedom once, the constitution once, and liberty zero times.

This is in contrast to Reagan’s 1980 acceptance speech, in which he mentioned freedom at least nine times. And during his presidency, Reagan would often promote the ideals of freedom and limited government rooted in the U.S. Constitution.

Conversely, Trump was asked by members of Congress about defending Article I of the Constitution. Trump replied that he would defend Article I, but an Article XII as well. There is no Article XII.

Trump has made other past comments that raised eyebrows on whether he was serious about upholding and defending the constitution. Trump is open to changing libel laws so he could sue reporters for practicing their First Amendment right and even talked about repealing the 14th Amendment. Before running for office, Trump has also expressed interest in gun control laws, like an assault weapons ban, which many pro-Second Amendment groups oppose.

On foreign affairs, Trump has complimented the strength of authoritarian leaders ruling North Korea, Russia, China, and even praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He has threatened to not honor the NATO treaty unless member countries start ‘paying their fair share.’

These comments stand in contrast to those made by Reagan, who led the world against the enemies of freedom and democracy, most notably the Soviet Union.