In December 2016, former House Speaker John Boehner compared then President-elect Trump to the 26th President of the United States, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. The former House Speaker said Trump’s confident persona resembles that of the Progressive Era reformer, Teddy Roosevelt. The mainstream media heavily criticized Boehner’s comparison, but there is more than just a kernel of truth in his statement.
Like Trump, Teddy was a Manhattan millionaire with a bombastic personality who burst on the American political scene with a fiery populist message that Washington was corrupt, Wall Street had forsaken and forgotten Main Street, and “he” was the only person capable of restoring America to past greatness. The former Rough Rider confounded the establishment of the Republican Party and refused to toe the party line. Sound familiar?
Compared to past presidents, Trump and Teddy share the most striking similarities specifically in their upbringing. Both leaders were born in New York City to prominent families with successful businesses, and both were motivated by great ambition. Teddy set his sights on politics early on, and Trump sought to expand his family business build a brand beyond Queens. Both men stood on the shoulders of their family’s success to become something greater.
Personality wise, Trump and Teddy have been both described by observers as “straight talkers” and share a mutual disdain for political correctness. We all know Trump’s greatest hits like “Lyin [sic] Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Low Energy Jeb,” and of course, “Crooked Hillary.” Teddy also had his repertoire of insults.
Teddy once boldly described his predecessor, William McKinley, as having “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.” He also had a few choice words for Woodrow Wilson and called the former President a “Byzantine logothete backed by flubdugs and mollycoddles.” Obviously, Trump and Teddy would have had a few laughs trading barbs.
Policy wise, both men also have similarities. President Trump made immigration a central issue to his presidential campaign , and to this day, he is lampooned by the media for being “anti-immigrant,” but by the media’s standards, so was Teddy. Teddy famously said that “we cannot have too much immigration of the right sort, and we should have none whatsoever of the wrong,” and that during the vetting of immigrants, the only factor that should be considered is “a man’s fitness for citizenship… the individual quality of the individual man.”
Teddy’s position nicely aligns with President Trump’s view that immigrants to the Untied States must accept and adopt the American culture. Save to say if Teddy were alive today, he would be called “an intolerant racist” by the left. To be accurate, Teddy inspires different opinion among Conservatives.
The conservative political commentator, Glenn Beck famously made Teddy the topic of several shows on Fox News lambasting Teddy as the first “Progressive Republican.” Teddy supported many policies that were antithetical to the Republican Party platform at the time and continue to be at odds with present Conservatism.
For example, the tenants of his “Square Deal” included conservationism, control of corporations, and consumer protection. Furthermore, Teddy believed there was a role for government to mitigate social evils, and he denounced the “representatives of predatory wealth.” These opinions would definitely cause a stir at a CPAC conference.
Similarly, Trump has come out in support of LGBTQ rights, raising taxes on the wealthy, and he opposes significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Teddy and Trump took traditionally Democrat or “blue” policies and painted them “red” (Republican). This willingness to support policies outside their party platform makes both men transformative figures in the history of the Republican Party.
I understand why people like Teddy and Trump make Conservatives and others uncomfortable. These are men who play by their own rules and are uninhibited by established norms and artificial limitations imposed by people such as myself who follow politics as a sport. These men know what they want to accomplish and are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.
They are not afraid to speak their mind regardless of how inarticulately or uncouth it may come across. Both men embraced that the Republican Party can only win if it’s a party of bright colors and not pale pastels. Timid people don’t make good leaders. Give me the Rough Rider and the Builder any day.
Arianna Mendez has interned for United States Department of State, the Romney/Ryan 2012 campaign, the McCain/Palin 2008 campaign, the offices of Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Arianna has also served as the National Hispanic Media and Outreach Director for the Brinker Education Initiative and as a Committee Member for the Miami-Dade for Trump Executive Committee. She is currently in her first year of law school and serves as Committeewoman on the Republican Party Executive Committee of Miami-Dade. Contact – Facebook – LinkedIn – Instagram – Twitter
Photo Credit – Wikipedia