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From Reagan's Morning in America to Trump's Death to Democracy in Just 35 Years

Updated: Mar 5

There was a time not long ago when Republicans seemed to be obliged to mention Ronald Reagan’s name every second or third sentence of every speech to prove their Republican bona fides. Times have changed. You rarely hear Reagan’s name mentioned anymore. That’s because the fundamental principles that Reagan espoused are the antithesis of Donald Trump’s Republican Party.


Reagan believed in American democracy. He called it “the highest social achievement of mankind” and he recognized that democracy is vulnerable. He said our democracy is “under attack from the outside, and it is under attack by those who would destroy it from the inside.” He was right, of course, but he would be surprised to learn that it’s not arrogant intellectuals and militant leftists who are working to destroy democracy. Instead, Reagan’s own party is devoted to eradicating what he cherished.


During a recent Conservative Political Action Conference panel discussion moderated by Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, rightwing activist Jack Posobiec said this: “Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on January 6th, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this, right here,” Posobiec said as he pointed to the crowd and raised his clinched fist. Posobiec’s statement didn’t elicit a chorus of boos, it received raucous cheers, including from Steve Bannon who shouted “Amen!”


Conservatives make no secret of their intent to destroy democracy. To the contrary, they speak loud and proud of the fact that they reject the notion that America’s destiny should be determined by the will of the majority of its citizens and instead they strive to impose iron-fisted domination by their immoral and malignant minority. Reagan Republicans celebrated the fall of fascism and the rise of democracy. Trump Republicans do the exact opposite. They wrap themselves in the flag and wave the bible, pretending to be patriots and Christians when in fact they’re neither.


Ronald Reagan said that “democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” Today, we have a deeply dishonorable man leading the fight to kill democracy and to execute it from within. Reagan never could have imagined that tens of millions of those in his own party would bow down in submissive obedience to a dotard demagogue who wants to drag Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” down into the darkness of the authoritarian sewer.


Reagan had a prescription for defeating attacks on democracy. He believed a lack of involvement by too many citizens leaves the political stage undefended and allows extremists to commandeer it. We see that happening now. Trump’s Republican Party works tirelessly to erect barriers that make involvement in the political process harder for those unlikely to embrace their extremist agenda. Republicans enact voter ID requirements, ban mail-in ballots, close polling places on college campuses and in minority communities, shorten early voting periods, and prohibit ballot drop boxes citing concerns about problems that in truth don’t exist. They claim they want to make elections more secure when their real aim is to make electoral involvement more difficult.


Reagan said that “education is, of course, the key to the survival of our way of life.” He was particularly concerned about elementary and secondary education, which he saw as building blocks for a successful future for individuals and society. Today, the Trump Republican Party demeans and defunds public education. They want people to be blindly obedient rather than equipped to think for themselves. As Trump said in 2016, “I love the poorly educated.” And Western North Carolina loves the poorly educated too. Ninety-five percent of the members of Congress have at least a four-year degree, but our current congressman and his two Republican predecessors fall into the least educated five percent. We don’t send our best and brightest to Washington. We fare better and democracy fares better with an electorate and elected officials capable of objective reasoning and less vulnerable to malign manipulation.


I was never a fan of Ronald Reagan, but I hope most of us embrace his love for democracy. Don’t let lies, fatigue, or obstacles keep you from participating. Vote! And let’s make our public education system great again like it was when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies. Let’s ensure that future generations of North Carolinians are equipped to think for themselves rather than be seduced by the siren call of seditious charlatans.

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1 Comment


jasonmooreusmc
Mar 11

Educating the electorate is obviously a long-term endeavor, but there needs to be a whole-of-government approach to addressing the “ignorance epidemic” now. I wish democrats would push harder for this. I think creating a goal of a 50% state-wide increase in all teacher salaries in the next 4 years would be a great start.

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