About a year ago some good friends from California mentioned in a casual discussion the Reagan Library in Simi Valley: “It’s such a nice place and you guys should go there. And the drive down from there towards Malibu is spectacular” but in the same breath they said: “Oh, but probably you will not want to visit it because you voted for Obama”. It was so funny, at least for me, that one would exclude the other but I was not extremely surprised. We are as tribal as we can be, no matter that we consider ourselves way beyond that. This categorization reminded me several discussions I had in Las Vegas with a gentleman from Louisiana. A very polite and civil gentleman like many of his peers from the South, he was interested to have a chat because we were in the same industry, television, but also because I was from New York, a place where in the southerner conservative understanding live only rabid liberal, anarchist and maybe Communists. He never challenged me but he was always pointing to a different perspective in our visions that were never defined in the conversation whatsoever. But it should have been this way because I was from New York…He confessed at one point that he was part of the Tea Party, a flavor that myself I did not have a chance to encounter in New York so I started to ask him to explain various topics his group adhered to. My interest puzzled him and each and every time I asked him a question he stopped and asked if I was actually a closet Republican and I just wanted to jump the fence. The fact that I was not siding with neither of the parties, sitting comfortably on top of the fence, and I just wanted to understand each person’s perspective was unconceivable for him and he kept asking the same question each time when we met; I had to be part of a tribe, or not be at all.
For us who were born and grew up in Eastern Europe, Reagan represented a hero. I don’t know how I would have felt living here in regards to his social policies and I don’t want to speculate about it but his staunch approach toward our oppressive Soviet rulers was music to our ears. He was absolutely right chastising the Democrats’ weak position toward the Soviets and naming them “The Evil Empire”, with its popular culture connotation. I remember talking with my friends about his statement and being elated by his stance while living in Romania under the Communists. We thought that finally the US had a leader that was able to talk to the Soviets using their tone. But walking the library floors I was more impressed by listening to the speeches he made along his eight years of presidency, inspiring, hopeful and sometime joyful in spite of the dire situation the country was going through. After each and every speech I stopped and thought of its powerful message and its intricacies on the world stage. As Maureen Down was pointing in a recent piece in NY Times:…”…Reagan had one key quality that you [Trump] don’t have: He knew what he didn’t know…. President Reagan was confident enough to accept that he needed experts below, deftly maneuvering the strings…”. And you could tell from the way he spoke and was deftly communicated issues. What emanated in most of the speeches is cached in a statement that he made latter after he finished his presidency: “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”
What a great difference in speech, approach, attitude and mentality in comparison of what is going now in the White House.