It is just now dawning on the Professional Right that the inherently unstable coalition (my fellow Southern Evangelicals, alas, and Wall Street) which formed around Ronald Reagan in 1980 and turned 36 years old this year, has, in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy (which they have spent months reassuring themselves was not inevitable) shattered on the ground.
You can read around the net and find their responses, which must be rather like those that old line New Dealers read into the record after watching the 1968 Democratic Convention when, just as suddenly and just as inevitably, FDR’s equally unstable coalition (Northern Liberals and Dixiecrats), then 36 years old, came apart in an instant.
Now as then, such responses are generally heartfelt, often erudite, surely bewildered. My own guess is that, even if he wins the presidency, Trump won’t be the actual change agent, that he will end up playing Richard Nixon to someone else’s Reagan…or Woodrow Wilson (a wrecking ball whom Trump would surely recognize as a kindred spirit under that prim exterior if he only knew history) to someone else’s Roosevelt.
I’ll leave the scholarly erudition and the gnashing of teeth to others. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep waking up every morning, trying to feel what the air is like now….and remember what it was like then.
Watching the cataclysm of 1980 coming, Bruce Springsteen used to cover “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” in his concerts and I seem to remember reading somewhere that he sang “Bad Moon Rising” right after Reagan was elected.
Good choices. But a little obvious.
Me, I always dedicate the Supremes’ “Reflections” to every outgoing president and fully anticipate doing the same for the current president next January.
But today I feel like coming up with a dedication for every incoming president…a whisper in our collective ear every time a new white knight rides in out of the sunset.
So, lest we forget, here’s to you Ronald Reagan, once upon a time…
And here’s to you, Donald Trump, as you bring the latest crowd roaring to its feet in coal country tonight…