There's on old saying in American medicine: "When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras."
They sound alike and move alike, but one's more likely to be found in North America than the other. I often keep this in mind when I hear pundits searching for parallels in history.
It's a trap they often fall into.
They assume if a modern candidate sounds like or moves like a prior one, it's somehow proof of precedence; a second coming, so to speak. That's exactly what happened in the often mistaken but never in doubt liberal Washington Post's recent piece, claiming that Bernie Sanders is the new Ronald Reagan. They have similar hoofbeats but they're entirely different beasts.
That the Weekly Reader of the nation’s newspapers, the Post, childish and immature, like the kiddie publication — ran this piece is not surprising. The Washington Post is a national joke. If they had an ombudsman, they’d have to pay them overtime to correct all the faults of this faulty rag.
They love running defective and untrue stories about Reagan.
And they love telling lies about Reagan.
The simple comparisons are that Ronald Reagan was an outsider populist, hated by the insiders, who reshaped the party — and the country — in his image. Sure, swap out Reagan for Bernie in that sentence and the sentence still holds true.
The problem is, one could substitute in just about anyone. Cut and replace Reagan for Bernie, Teddy Roosevelt, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, or even Eugene Debs and it's still, essentially accurate. There are similarities in their populism and rejection by the insiders, but that's about it. Their philosophies are night and day.
Hillary Clinton invoked Eleanor Roosevelt and had seances in the White House to talk to the old gal. Gary Hart, in 1984, tried to invoke the memory of JFK, imitating his mannerisms.
Of course, the Post would compare serial plagiarist Ricky Perlstein to Herodotus if they thought they could get away with it. The only difference is Herodotus is a better man, ethically and morally, dead, than Little Ricky Perlstein is alive.
Contrary to popular belief, on his way to the White House, Reagan didn’t slay the establishment so much as rebuke them. He neither scorched the earth nor salted the land. He asserted that his ideas were important, and when they won out, he welcomed the establishment back into the fold, on his terms though.
He made George Bush Senior his Vice President despite their animosity towards one another. He even offered to work across party lines in his first term. Sadly this measure largely failed when Democrats failed to hold up their end of the bargain, but Reagan still tried. This was Reagan's way. When he met with the Soviet leadership, with the hope of finding peace between nations, he brought a list of every unjustly imprisoned individual that he felt should be freed.
He would not abdicate his beliefs, even in the pursuit of peace. this came from an intrinsic belief that his, and America's, ideas were great enough to carry the day. This is not how Sanders gets things done.
Bernie Sanders is no consensus builder, he is a unilateral force. While the DNC unquestionably shot first, he's made no qualms about framing them and his more moderate party members as enemies. He has done nothing to deter his constituents form claiming that the election is already being stolen from him.
He dismisses the fact that Russia is supporting his bid.
He singular conviction that only socialism can save America has no room for anything but total devotion to that mission. Though his definition of "Democratic-Socialism" is so vague and intractable, one could say that his followers are more devoted to his vision ergo, him, then they are the ideas he's actually putting forward.
Reagan was a force of nature.Reagan radiated optimism, a can do spirit, believed in the goodness of man. Sanders is a natural disaster. Sanders radiates negativity.
Sanders is a deconstructionist. Sanders is a hater and a hypocrite. Reagan was a man. Sanders is a run down version of Woody Allen. Reagan was an intellectual. Sanders is at best a shallow thinker.
Even with Sanders' disappointing performance this past Super Tuesday, there will still be those who claim his vision being embraced by the DNC is a truer victory than one found at the polls. That he, even if he doesn't win the election, will have changed the party, just like Reagan did. It's a comforting idea for his followers to embrace, yet it's likely the opposite will hold true.
He was a "Pied Piper" who led the Democratic Party down a path that they would take a generation tor recover from. So yes, they might strike similar tones, but one of them is Ronald Reagan, the other is, most likely, just another populist.
Having worked for and studied and written books and monographs and taught classes about Reagan I still have much to learn about the 40th president, but one thing is for sure is, he never compared himself to other presidents.
Reagan was far too inner directed and secure to engage in such antics.
Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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