1981 vs. 2017 Inaugural Speeches: Donald Trump Is No Ronald Reagan

I know some people are praising Donald Trump’s speech and some are just being idiots about, like Chris Matthews. Addresses are different when you read the written word. When doing that, it’s easier to absorb and to get a real sense of what the person was attempting to convey.


Some people (primarily hardcore Trump supporters) have sought to put Trump on Reagan’s level, particularly with respect to how they won geographic areas normally dominated by Democrats – the rust belt.

However, when comparing the two speeches, side by side, it’s not even close. It’s not about which speech is better, it’s about the attitude driving it. For example, when discussing the economy, here is what Reagan said:

“…this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning,” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.”

Here is Trump:

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

The difference is stark. Reagan’s words reveal an optimism that is missing in Trump’s speech. Reagan doesn’t blame other people or other countries. He recognized that government is the problem. Look at what he says:


It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are not heroes, they just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they’re on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They’re individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

And then Trump’s words:

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.


Trump talks the country down. With Reagan, he highlighted the issues without any of the, “I am here to save the day from them” rhetoric. With all due respect to President Trump, there’s a lot of what he says here that might have been said by a President Bernie Sanders.

If the tone of Trump’s closing remarks, echoed the bulk of his speech, it would have been far better.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
This would have been great to see peppered throughout the rest of the speech. Unfortunately, the words along with Trump’s delivery, made it sound bitter and angry, not optimistic and hopeful. Reagan closed this way:
It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.

Reagan put hope in the American people. Trump says, “I alone will solve.” It is a major contrast and as such, any comparison to Reagan does not hold up.



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