Trump's Appeal Is More Roosevelt Than Reagan
The “Black Lives Matter” protest movement began over a demonstrably false account of the justifiable police shooting of a violent felon in Ferguson, Missouri, and continued to provoke civil disturbances over police actions later shown to be blameless. President Obama expressed sympathy for Black Lives Matter when most Americans were repelled.
Obama and Mrs Clinton won few points with voters, moreover, by insisting that Islam had nothing at all to do with terrorism. A November 2015 Brookings Institution poll showed that Americans held an unfavourable view of Islam by a margin of 61-37, although their views of individual Muslims were considerably more benign. The Democrats denounced expressions of unease about Islam as “Islamophobia”, allowing Trump to make the opposite case forcefully.
The administration surely overreached, moreover, when it threatened in May 2015 to cut federal funding for schools that failed to comply with its guidelines for bathroom use by transgender students. The perception that the Democratic party had become giddy with the prospect of imposing a dodgy social agenda motivated many Americans to abandon it.
In effect, Trump reversed the characteristic roles of Republicans and Democrats. He succeeded in portraying the Democrats as the party of elite fat-cats and himself as a man of the people — just what Roosevelt did to the hapless Herbert Hoover in 1932, and to a succession of Republican challengers until his fourth election victory in 1944.
Trump’s critics accuse him of vagueness and inconsistency in his economic proposals. He seemed to want to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, cut corporate taxes and reduce the deficit all at the same time. The voters, though, required a well-considered economic plan of Trump as little as they did of Franklin Roosevelt.
As Amity Schlaes reported in her 2007 book The Forgotten Man, Roosevelt’s erratic economic programme was a failure by and large:
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