Lawrence Auster’s Eulogy for Ronald Reagan: with reflections on Donald Trump

I chanced upon this in the archives at View From the Right, moving forward day by day from something a few days behind:

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004

We learned of the death of Ronald Reagan yesterday in an unusual and touching way: at the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. The announcer asked everyone to stand up, and then told us of the passing of Reagan. A large photo of him was displayed at the billboard, and, after a moment of silence, a recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” was played.

This is a sad day for America. While I wouldn’t say that Reagan had the stature to be called a great man, I believe he had true greatness. And a mark of his greatness was, he saw things and possibilities that other people did not see, and he led the world toward those possibilities. Unlike his supposed intellectual superiors, who thought the best we could do was adjust to Soviet Communism in an ever darkening world, Reagan, to his everlasting credit, never accepted détente. Because of his grasp of truth and principle, he knew that Communism was evil and, for that reason, unsustainable. He saw that if the Communist system was resisted and challenged instead of coddled and compromised with, it would collapse from its own falsities. He saw this, and he made it happen. He discredited not only Communism, but statism itself, and so helped give the world a new birth of freedom—direct freedom from Communism for hundreds of millions of people, and, in the West, abandonment of the faith in the softer forms of socialism as well. He pursued his goals with staunch determination and unfailing good cheer, despite the hate and contempt of much of the world. He was thus an enduring example of true leadership as well as the most important political figure in the second half of the twentieth century. Perhaps he was a great man, after all.


In seeing that the ascendancy of leftism is not inevitable, in seeing that leftism, despite all appearances to the contrary, can be not only delayed or contained but turned back and defeated, Reagan offers the greatest model of hope to us today as we look at an America and a Western world that, under the control of a seemingly unstoppable liberalism, is rapidly committing moral and cultural suicide.

Reagan’s greatest failure, and it was the flaw of his virtues, was his uncritical embrace of open immigration as the symbol and proof of America’s worth. In upholding American freedom as contrasted with Soviet tyranny, he advanced the neoconservative project of changing America from a specific historical country into the incarnation and agent of a universal ideology—an ideology of radical freedom that now threatens the very existence of our culture, our nation, and our civilization. He was not a neoconservative per se, because, unlike the neoconservatives, he loved America as a nation and not just as a set of abstract principles. But he was a neoconservative in significant part, and we are paying the cost of that today. And so, as is so often the case in history, the good brings the bad, the bad brings the good.

–Until this summer, very few people would have dreamed to think of real estate and entertainment mogul Donald Trump as a man of stature, or certainly not by the measure we use for statesmen.  I’m sure Larry Auster could hardly have anticipated a day when Donald Trump, of all people, would be looked to as a last beacon of hope in an America already usurped by a post-constitutional cabal imposing Obamacare and homogamy by fiat.  This is “America 2.0”, Larry said, and how can we doubt it?  And are we fools to hope that Trump– even if he wins, even if he builds the Wall– can truly save us?

I don’t know what can save us from Roe v. Wade, what can save us from homosexual “marriage”, or what can save us from the bitter and malignant fruit of the triumph of so-called “Civil Rights”.  But we do know that Donald Trump aggressively promises to halt illegal immigration.  Though he says he’s in favor of Legal Immigration, he also says he loves Mexicans and Chinese– even as he insists that they take us for fools and rob us blind.  From this we may infer that Trump’s notion of Legal Immigration itself is that it is not an unmitigated good.

Further, he has insisted that birthright citizenship end:  probably the most radical legal plank offered by a conservative candidate in– good Lord, how many decades?  He argues that it’s fine for Russia to take the lead in Syria– which means in pragmatic terms that America’s evil work in Syria is over.

Donald Trump explodes with pride in his nation, even as he laments that its dream has died.  He showers contempt upon the technocrats who practice failed diplomacy and mad military intervention, who refuse to impose tariffs upon our trade partners, and who allow our infrastructure to rot.  A vast swath of the American people, starved for leadership, denied a voice in a country where what we used to call “commonsense conservatism” has all but been outlawed– where “political correctness” is a governmental, corporate, and educational religion– roar with enthusiasm for Trump, a rich man who can afford to wallow in the thrilling luxury of giving his unadorned opinions about what’s wrong with our world today: opinions which have the unmistakable ring of truth, opinions which untold millions have been brooding over in wretched silence for too many years, while all official avenues of power and expression have been closed in their faces.

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump shakes hands and gives autographs during a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Perhaps I take great liberty in using Auster’s Reagan obituary as an adumbration of Trump’s campaign, but it occurs to me that Donald Trump today at least offers us something like the hope Reagan offered America in the 1980s.  Yes, he is not a perfect man, and there are more great things we could hope for– indeed, must have–from him, if in fact ruin is to be averted.

But there is surely greatness in Trump today.  A great surprise, yes.  A magnificent shock.  But let us welcome it.  Let us do what we can.  Let us elect this man, let us despoil our plutocrats, clean Washington’s stables, and build a Wall.  Let us help and encourage Europe to build its own walls and expunge the awful hordes of Africans, Muslims, and African Muslims who have invaded its lands.

May we hope, too– is this an outrageous hope, knowing the many wholesome truths Trump has expressed already in his campaign with unabashed enthusiasm and with an absolute refusal to “apologize” or trim his sails at the dictates of media mavens, NeoCon campaign contributors, or jackass RINOs– that Trump may go on the offensive for gun rights, by going to Europe and the United Nations and demanding other Western nations allow their native citizens the inalienable right to bear arms?  Oh, what a great good thing that would be!  Do it, Donald!

These are strange times indeed, but let us grab hold of a reasonable hope while we may.  Trump, like Reagan, is a very American American.  The Americanness of Americans does have a lot to answer for in the world.  But it can at least be part of the wholesome solution for a world of woes, wrought by cowardly and mendacious foes during a long period of self-doubt and passivity among those who should have known more and done better.  Perhaps the Trumpening can awaken us from our suicidal and tongue-tied stupor at last.

[UPDATE:]  Something else I wasn’t looking for but found anyway– an Auster compliment to Trump:

Also, let us give THREE CHEERS for Donald Trump for having the simple human guts to bring this issue into the mainstream and to keep revisiting it and not back away from it when he was attacked. Who can doubt that the release of this document is a direct result of Trump’s campaigning on the issue. The incident shows how a prominent person, simply by speaking up and continuing to speak up, can help break down a false and stifling orthodoxy. “


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