From Ronald to Donald

How the Myth of Reagan Became the Cult of Trump


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About the Book

On November 4, 1980, American voters gave Ronald Reagan a 41-state Electoral College landslide. The man this mandate carried into the White House was largely compounded of mythology. Like most compelling mythologies, Reagan’s was a synthesis of celebrity as well as emotional, intellectual, and cultural streams. Throughout his eight years in the oval office, the “Great Communicator” was largely successful in shaping the soul of America to reflect his durable mantra that “government is the problem.” That same American soul later embraced Donald Trump—a president who, the authors argue, would have appalled Reagan.
Reagan’s myth persists, and by understanding his time in office in the context of American history and of the American presidency, we can understand how a transformative president created more than policy by also shaping culture with the instrumental force of mythology. This book attempts to neither praise nor bury Reagan but to explain him in non-partisan terms of contemporary popular mythology. The authors examine his legacy in his war on “big government,” which still drives politics, economic policy, and culture, even in Trump’s era. They make the case that understanding the mythology at work is a necessary step toward healing American politics and saving American democracy.

About the Author(s)

Edwin G. Oswald is a partner with the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, resident in Washington D.C. He served as an attorney-advisor in the United States Treasury’s Office of Tax Legislative Counsel during the Clinton Administration. He is a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and a frequent lecturer on financing State and local infrastructure and the federal taxation of municipal debt. The book is a personal project of Mr. Oswald’s and the views and opinions expressed herein are those of the co-authors and do not represent the views and opinions of Orrick.
Alan Axelrod is the author or coauthor of 160 books. He has been a featured speaker at the Conference on Excellence in Government, the Leadership Institute of Columbia College, the Annual Conference of the Goizueta School of Business, Emory University, and the 2014 annual conference of Ecopetrol.

Bibliographic Details

Edwin G. Oswald and Alan Axelrod
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: 8 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9032-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5062-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
1. Government Is the Problem 5
2. MAGA: Dumbing Down a Stolen Lie 17
3. Crystal Radio 36
4. Holiday 51
5. “A Near Hopeless Hemophiliac Liberal” 64
6. General Electric Theater 74
7. A Speech Is Born 84
8. California Dreaming 101
9. From Dog Whistle to Dogma 117
10. Taxes, Big Government, and ­Middle-Class Despair 131
11. Pure Tax Magic 144
12. American Lazarus 159
13. PATCO Tamed 173
14. Supply-Side Economics: Under Reagan’s Shadow 184
15. Imperial Visions 200
16. In the Twilight of an Idol, the Chickens Come Home to Roost 214
Chapter Notes 227
Bibliography 249
Index 263