The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Opposite of Reaganism

Here is a new ad from the anti-Trump Lincoln Project:

The spot plays off of Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 campaign ad, “It’s morning again in America.” Even by partisan standards, the commercial is exceptionally dishonest. There a slew of issues you can criticize Donald Trump over — including his initial coronavirus rhetoric — but the notion that the president had spurred the death, unemployment, and economic turmoil we’re experiencing over coronavirus is just mendacious. By almost any standard, the economy was in strong shape before COVID-19, a disease that has ravaged almost every Western nation no matter who was in charge. The ad itself insinuates that Trump both ruined the economy and didn’t close it quickly enough to stop coronavirus.

That’s fine, I suppose. Political ads have never been known for honesty. What’s really disagreeable about the spot, though, is that it maligns the American people as a group of desperate and hopeless subjects sitting around waiting for their government to rescue them. This isn’t merely a preposterous misreading of today’s situation, its message is the antithesis of Reaganism. You don’t need to adulate the 40th president to know that his ads, and his personal inclination, celebrated the exceptional capacity of the American people to overcome adversity. A Reagan ad might have been patriotic, uplifting, and a bit fogyish by modern standards, but it would never have cynically painted us as a dreary, powerless, and self-pitying nation.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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