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…



  1. NDJ

    I read Hinderaker’s piece, THE REAGAN COALITION IS DEAD. WHAT’S NEXT FOR CONSERVATISM?, to which you linked above, In it he states, “Most Americans pay little or nothing in income taxes.”


    And then he says, “Today, the United States has the most progressive personal tax system of any developed country.”

    I suppose as long as you overlook that that progressivism cuts off and ceases to affect the top wage-earners then that is a sorta true statement. For the past 30 years (1981-2016), top wage-earners and corporations have “suffered” rates less than half of those of the previous 30 years (1950-1980).

    Plus they have write-offs that almost eliminate ALL their taxes, as witness the major billion-dollar corporations that pay NO taxes at all year.

    We have not just lived through arguably the greatest transfer of wealth upwards in history because we have a truly “progressive” tax structure …

    What universe does he live in?

    Rhetorical question time: Do other rightwingnuts read this shit and believe it?

    A friend recently said to me, “I keep reading this crap that the Rep*blicans don’t have ‘a plan.’ Of course they do: we’re living that plan. It’s never been better being rich in America and as long as it stays that way, there’s not gonna be any meaningful change from above.”

    Yade yoda blah blah …


  2. To answer your rhetorical question non-rhetorically: There’s your split right there…between those who believe and those who don’t. Those who don’t just made Trump their nominee. Hinderaker’s very representative of those panicking because they believe it will make a difference and it scares the bejesus out of them. One can hope, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Trump would have to be a) committed to change b) highly disciplined and c) find a lot of help on the inside. None of that is likely. Especially the latter.

    In any case the difference in this particular year (and the reason I thought all along that Trump had a better than even chance) is that the Republican hoi polloi hate their leadership with, in their favorite phrase, the fire of a thousand suns, and do so for many of the reasons you point out (i.e, they’ve been hosed and, predictably, gotten nothing in return). True-blue Bernie supporters, on the other hand, tend to merely dislike Hilary, which is why he won’t win.

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