My column on Tuesday covered the many ways President Trump and his party are stuck in the 1980s. This is true of both Trump’s aesthetic and cultural reference points (gold, chandeliers, Chachi, thinking New York’s “inner city” is still a violent hellscape, etc.), and actual Republican policies (supply-side economics, welfare reform, “Just Say No,” mandatory minimum sentences and Berlin-style walls).
Trump has openly acknowledged his nostalgia for the “Greed Is Good” decade. During a 2015 interview, he told Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his campaign slogan reflected his view that the country has been languishing since the days of Ronald Reagan.
Chuck Todd: All right. Your slogan, we’re going to hear it a lot today at the fair. “We’re going to make America great again.” When was the —
Donald Trump: Great slogan.
Todd: When was the last time America was great?
Trump: I would say during the administration of Ronald Reagan you felt proud to be an American. You felt really proud. I don’t think since then to any great extent people were proud.
A reader named John Outland reminds me, though, that I left out Trump’s biggest ’80s throwback of all: this very same campaign slogan, which sounds suspiciously like . . . Ronald Reagan’s campaign slogan, from 1980.
In other words, Republicans today yearn for the good old days, apparently meaning the 1980s; but in the early 1980s, Republicans were also yearning for the good, even older days — presumably meaning the postwar boom.
What are the odds that 30 years from now, Americans have nostalgia for today, when Americans had nostalgia for 30 years earlier, when, in turn, Americans had nostalgia for 30 years earlier?