by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Conservative complaints about Trump notwithstanding, he is no left-winger. He has more in common with the nationalists and populist parties of the right gaining a foothold in other Western democracies, reacting to immigration, transnational bureaucracies and cultural conflicts engulfing Europe.
But in other ways, Trump is also a throwback to pre-Reagan Republicanism — if not Richard Nixon, then Spiro Agnew. His supporters wave signs identifying themselves as part of the “silent majority.” They are pro-American but not ideological, traditionalist but not always Christian right-style social conservatives, pro-business not consistently for free markets or limited government.
Nixon didn’t just go to China. He imposed wage and price controls. When William Buckley, Jr. and other conservative elites suspended their support for Nixon, it didn’t stop him from winning re-nomination or re-election in a 49-state landslide.
Not a lot of government-cutting, but some hippie-punching.
“Agnew really tapped into the alienation of Middle America,” former Nixon speechwriter and veteran conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan told the Washington Examiner, calling him the “Robespierre of the great silent majority.”
Both Agnew and Nixon “picked up on feedback from their audiences,” Buchanan added,” saying it helped them identify issues like the “radicalization of campuses” that other Republicans missed, and Trump has that ability too.
Trump has already donned a hard hat. Could the college “safe space” activists and Black Lives Matter be like the protesters of 1968?
Others see a stronger resemblance to the old Nixon-Agnew scribe himself.