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In an election campaign characterised by personal smears that would make even Frank Underwood blush, one sound bite stands above the rest. Make America Great Again: The defining slogan of the most divisive election in recent US history.

In one of the most successful interpretations of public discontent, Trump repeatedly invoked this phrase to enchant a demographic of the electorate who felt that their views were unheard and ignored by mainstream politicians. Like any self-respecting entrepreneur, Donald Trump spotted this gap in the political market place, and crafted a firebrand political product to chime with these chords of disenchantment.

However, this was not the first time that a Republican candidate attempted to woo voters with the promise of returning America to some perceived former glory. Indeed, it was Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign of 1980 that first utilised the slogan. In this original incarnation, Reagan said ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’ in the face of a significantly weakened economy.

Indeed, a shared slogan is not the only similarity between Reagan and Trump. Both were originally stars of the screen before making the transition to politics. Reagan took a traditional route, stewarding the Governorship of California before running for president in 1980. Trump, on the other hand, went straight from CEO to president.

Beyond these superficial similarities, however, in no way can Trump’s political intentions be considered a modern interpretation of Reagan’s. Most obviously, one of the seminal moments of Reagan’s presidency was when he implored the president of Russia, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down that wall”, resulting in one of the greatest public thaws of Cold War tensions.

In contrast, Trump’s version of returning America to its former glory involves constructing “a big beautiful wall” along the USA’s border with Mexico. This wall, if constructed, would act as a physical manifestation of Trump’s broader views on immigration. Visually, it will also serve as an ironic reminder that whilst Reagan tore down a wall which represented oppression and prejudice, Trump will be constructing one.

President Reagan was also responsible for signing into law sweeping immigration reform in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Under this piece of legislation, illegal immigrants who had entered the country before 1982 became eligible for amnesty. This provided the opportunity for almost three million people to legalise their status in the US. Now this is not to illustrate Reagan as a beacon of social and racial liberalism, but it is hard to imagine a deed more at odds with the immigration rhetoric employed by Trump’s campaign.

So the question becomes: how can two presidents with different visions campaign under the same slogan? The answer is simple. The answer is rhetoric. Where Reagan’s incantation of Let’s Make America Great Again addressed the specific threat of economic decline, Trump’s use was calculated to excite disengaged tranches of potential American voters.

His words enthralled virgin voters who had deep chips on their shoulders from years of feeling they were being overlooked in favour of immigrants and minorities. Trump’s public prejudices and promises of walls and deportations provided the perfect political plaster to fill these chips.

In fact, Trump has created a new brand of Republican populism that his successors will have to embrace in order to match his success. His victory in traditionally Democrat-held states like Pennsylvania and Michigan proves that the new electoral forces he has unleashed must never again be underestimated.

Make America Great Again. With this slogan ringing in its ears, the world looks towards an uncertain America, captained by an untried and untested leader. Perhaps he will be able to unite the many faces of Republicanism. Perhaps he will leave America an even more deeply divided nation than the one he was given. Only time will tell.

Charlotte Smith is a Researcher in the House of Commons. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.