Donald Trump's Reagan moment.  graphic via Instagram

Donald Trump’s Reagan moment.
graphic via Instagram

The poll finds Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by just 6 points, a dramatic tightening since July. Trump is the one of three Republican candidates who have been matched against Clinton multiple times in CNN/ORC polling to significantly whittle the gap between himself and the Democratic frontrunner. [CNN]

IT WAS 1980 and the country was in a foul mood. The Iran hostages were still fighting for their lives, as behind the scenes Warren Christopher fought for their release. Much of the country waiting in gas lines, myself included, living in New York City and fuming at the state of our politics. It was the presidential election cycle of America’s discontent.

In strode Ronald Reagan, a two-bit movie actor and GM pitch man who’d been fired for trying to hone his style while traveling the country for the corporation he was selling.

Some of us remember this moment in political history and it turned the American political system on its head.

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan, but he is experiencing a similar type of moment where a politician rises in the middle of an American mood that is somewhere between pissed off and disillusioned. People think about America in different ways, but one thing everyone is experiencing, in my estimation, is how hard everything is to accomplish and keep.

Ronald Reagan had the malaise of America to attack and he did. With his sunny smile and towering persona, he tapped into what matters to voters who vote for president. For activists on both sides, which may nominate the potential president, issues inspire them to work for a candidate. For the rest of general election voters it’s about how they feel about the person, the emotion the candidate elicits.

Reagan lit up people’s expectations about who we are as Americans at a time when a lot of people were feeling helpless, demoralized and furious. Voters of all political stripes felt like our country was beaten. Ronald Reagan walked in and not only said it’s morning in America but gave people the belief he could, well, make American great again. The vast majority of Americans came to believe that with Reagan we’d have a commander in chief and president who could tame the oil masters while bringing the hostages home.

Trump has hit the motherlode. Watching the country, traveling the world, for all his insults, barbs, and outlandishness, he has seen first-hand what’s going on in countries where he negotiates deals, succeeds and fails, serially in many attempts. But Donald Trump keeps getting up, keeps fighting, coming back.

Donald Trump finds himself in a similar place as Reagan and actually has the slogan that describes well the Gipper’s approach. Make America great again is what Reagan implied during the end of the Carter era. Today Donald Trump is leading in a lot of categories as he attempts to make the turn to a serious candidate that can be viable in the general election.

CNN reported that 58% of Republicans who support Donald Trump don’t think he can win the general election. What’s interesting about that is it’s got nothing to do with any opponent he might face. It’s about Donald Trump still having to prove he can make a voter proud so they will help put him in the White House. It’s the serious factor.

Ronald Reagan rode his moment to the White House while everyone thought he was a joke.

Trump’s first attempt to prove he’s got the right stuff for the oval office was his immigration plan. Bill O’Reilly yelled at him on Tuesday night telling him deporting 11 million people will take decades and billions of dollars, with the courts stopping any attempt to enforce it. Trump didn’t flinch, because it’s not about implementing this policy. It’s Trump’s Republican platform, as he’d dream of it.

Like Reagan, who cut taxes then raised them in the biggest tax increase in U.S. history, Donald Trump’s policy prescriptions are about what he’d do if he didn’t have Congress, the U.S. Constitution and all the money and time in the world. Like Reagan, he will pare his dream down to what’s doable.

There is nothing more American than the life of Donald Trump, warts, ugliness, insults and politically incorrectness, and the belief that each of us can have the same success. He is the ugly American, with his barbs, loutishness, and childish insults, but he is also the successful American who has beat the system to rise to the oligarchy, the ultimate position of power in U.S. Corporate America. Someone who has played the system and beat it, again and again.

But the first order of business is sustaining what he’s started and building it into something that the country can rally around and be proud to support.

Reagan was a serious man in 1980.

Trump is still trying to prove he’s serious too, but like the Republican standard bearer who today wouldn’t recognize the party he once led, the one thing The Donald gets is the mood of America. He’s tapped into it and today feels confident enough to start attacking Hillary Clinton, leaving his Republican opponents to squabble among themselves.

We’ll just have to wait to see if it lasts.