Linda and I just returned from impressive and inspiring visits to both the Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon presidential libraries. The trip was a treasured birthday gift from my sons. I recommend these visits for every patriot. The beautiful memorials are in suburbs of Los Angeles–Simi Valley and Yorba Linda respectively. The journey through periods of history that I personally witnessed real-time brought on many stirring memories and emotions.
I believe Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of my lifetime (I’m 70). He came into office when America was in crisis. Inflation was at a record high, Iran had held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. An attempt to rescue them had been a catastrophe. These and other burdens had sapped America’s energy and tarnished our reputation globally, especially with the Soviet Union. President Reagan’s steel resolve and bold declarations turned our country around in short order. On the day of his inauguration, Iran released the hostages, and very soon the economy was booming again. Later, his hard-line leadership internationally brought down the Soviet Union juggernaut ending the cold war. Nicknamed the “Great Communicator,” he motivated Americans to become positive-thinking patriots. He showed the world what national and international leadership should look like.
I also believe Richard Nixon was one of the greatest presidents of all time. Regrettably, his egregious mistake in Watergate and subsequent resignation overshadows his leadership and accomplishments. President Nixon, like Reagan, began his presidency at a low point for America. Vietnam was dragging our nation down financially, politically, and socially. Communism was a deadly threat to the world with the cold war gaining momentum. There were 591 American prisoners of war being tortured in North Vietnam and hundreds more unaccounted for. The Nixon White House ultimately negotiated the release of all known prisoners and ended America’s involvement in the war that had taken over 58,000 American lives. President Nixon expanded space exploration exponentially, presided over the first moon landing, and led the peak years of space technology. He was also a great communicator and instilled patriotism across the land.
While assimilating the overwhelming stories of these two presidents in my mind and heart, I couldn’t help but wonder what President Trump’s legacy will be, and what his library will portray. He, too, assumed the presidency at a very low point for America. Although he is a positive motivator with abundant plans for turning our county around, few would view him as a statesman who can draw the confidence of the masses. I like most of his policies and welcome his shift toward conservatism. He has built an unprecedented cohort of wise counsel. But, a Reagan or a Nixon he is not.
My hope and prayer is that the Trump presidency will be remembered and memorialized as one that took an America in severe decline morally and economically and turned it around once again. If he is successful, it will likely be because of his expertly picked cabinet, his party’s majority in the House and Senate, and possibly a more conservative Supreme Court.
The Trump library will hopefully showcase a successful and popular presidency as a result of a highly capable staff and favorable Congress. It’s portrayal of the president himself, unlike that of Reagan and Nixon, will be rather bizarre. What do you think?