Op-ed: May and Trump: A replay of Thatcher and Reagan?

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Saturday, July 16, 2016 1:06pm
  • Opinion

Is Britain’s new prime minister, Theresa May, Margaret Thatcher reincarnated? There are similarities.

May is certainly as tough as the Iron Lady. As home secretary for longer than any of her predecessors, she has strongly opposed uncontrolled immigration. The Home Office introduced visa restrictions that require non-European Union immigrants living in Britain for fewer than 10 years to minimally earn the equivalent of about $47,000 USD, so as not to be a drain on social welfare programs. With Britain’s planned exit from the EU, that policy could be broadened to include all immigrants.

In a speech to her Conservative Party last year and in more recent remarks, May has struck a chord with British citizens who feel they are losing their country and its unique characteristics to foreigners who refuse to assimilate (sound familiar?). “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society,” she told fellow party members.

This has driven the left nuts. They have accused her of everything, except being a lady. It seems the last thing the British and American left want is a cohesive society because such a society would not allow them to pit groups against each other, dividing and conquering at the ballot box.

Here’s something else that should appeal to average British citizens, at least the older ones, who are mostly more reserved than Americans and younger Brits. Says May, “I’m not a showy politician. I don’t tour the television studios. I don’t gossip over lunch. I don’t drink in Parliament’s bars. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I just get on with the job in front of me.”

That two women competed to replace David Cameron ought to have delighted feminists. Not so. Sophie Walker, who heads the Women’s Equality Party, said of May’s rise to Number 10 Downing Street: “While it’s symbolically important to have women represented at the top of politics … who look like you … it’s as important that the person is creating policies in a way that answers your experiences.”

Say what? So it isn’t really about electing more women to political office; it’s about electing more liberals, some of whom can be women.

History doesn’t always repeat, but the political stars seem to be aligning over London and Washington for a possible sequel to what happened with Thatcher’s election win in 1979. Ronald Reagan’s victory followed a year later.

While May is ideologically closer to Thatcher than Trump is to Reagan, Trump has picked up on a theme that worked for both Reagan and Nixon. Following the Dallas ambush and the protests that have exploded in major cities, Trump has styled himself as the law-and-order candidate. That this is occurring in an election year should be no surprise, but just as riots in the streets contributed to Republican victories in 1968, the political fallout this year might repeat.

In a recent speech in Virginia Beach, Va., Trump said: “We must maintain law and order at the highest level, or we will cease to have a country … I am the law and order candidate. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is weak, ineffective, pandering, and as proven by her recent email scandal, which was an embarrassment, not only to her, but to the entire nation as a whole, she’s either a liar or grossly incompetent. One or the other … it’s probably both.”

Britain and the U.S. are experiencing social and political turmoil. Both nations are perceived by many to have weak leaders. Trump and May display strength and in troubled times British and American voters have demonstrated that they prefer strength to weakness.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

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