Jim Clark: Is Donald Trump the sequel to Ronald Reagan that America needs?
February 3, 2016
Has Obama's failure of leadership sown the seeds of defeat for his would-be successor? Investors' Business Daily recently published an opinion piece comparing America's current malaise with the Jimmy Carter era of the 1970s … spiraling inflation, a 22 percent bank prime rate, long gas lines, energy shortages, a moribund economy and banks not making loans. Internationally, we were in an arms race with Soviet Russia.
In 1980 Ronald Reagan, a free market advocate, snagged the presidency from Carter in a landslide (489 electoral votes to 49). Visualizing America as a "shining city on a hill," Reagan liberated the economy. Bank deposit rates were deregulated, taxes were drastically cut, trade policy was liberalized and the military strengthened.
Result: The economy soared; gasoline and mortgage money became readily available. In 1984, Reagan was reelected by an even bigger landslide (525 electoral votes to 13). By 1986, the bank prime rate was just 7.5% and inflation was zero. Internationally, Reagan had entered into détente with the Soviets. Russian Communism and the Berlin Wall both failed a short time after Reagan left office.
Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush, continued Reagan's free market approach and "walk softly and carry big stick" international policies. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bush organized a true international alliance and restored Kuwait's independence.
After Bush came centrist Democrat Bill Clinton. Initially, he dabbled unsuccessfully with socialized medicine. Then voters handed him a Republican Congress and, spurred by a feisty Speaker in Newt Gingrich, Clinton made GOP free market policies his own (welfare reform, NAFTA trade agreement, balanced budget). America's prosperity continued.
So what do we have after seven years of Barack Obama? An overregulated banking industry again not making loans, an underclass of illegal aliens competing with citizens for jobs, an obsession with arresting climate change thus adversely impacting the economy, a stock market going in reverse, and a threat from international terrorism that Obama refuses to even recognize much less fight.
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How about the results of his social-democrat policies and lackluster international leadership? His signature contribution, Obamacare, is a mixed bag at best. Republicans are chomping at the bit to tear it apart and relaunch the law as a more free market scheme.
The situation in the Middle East couldn't be much worse. Libya, Yemen and Syria are basket cases incenting millions of Islamic refugees to immigrate to western countries. Iran looks to become an Islamist world nuclear power within a decade. Saudi Arabia feels the US will no longer provide for its defense and is producing oil in such quantities as to dramatically lower world oil prices (that should be a good thing for America but why is the stock market swooning?)
Internationally, Obama's equivocal foreign policy and lack of leadership has spawned an eruption of right wing governments in the west. The National Front almost took over France in their last election, a result of proliferating Muslim immigrants forming "no go" zones where they impose Sharia Law and the gendarmes don't interfere.
The right wing Fidesz Party now rules in Hungary and the Law and Justice Party controls Poland brought to power by a populist electorate frightened at the reach and barbarism of terrorists.
Here in America, Socialist Septuagenarian Bernie Sanders is trying to out-liberal Obama by promising his economics-challenged followers a Utopian society paid for by the rich folks they envy. His rival, Hillary Clinton, is striving to be even more left wing than Sanders.
Given the similarities to the 1970s, is it any wonder that Republican presidential contender Donald Trump excites voters and alarms the liberal media proposing policies that have brought right-wing governments to power in Europe? Is Trump Ronald Reagan's sequel? Will he also "make America great again"?
We could be finding out pretty soon.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.