Thursday, September 03, 2015

The quandary that is Donald J. Trump

Racist, misogynist, plutocrat, Democrat. Oh, wait. Did I say, "Democrat"? Strike that. Those three remaining words are what come to mind when I want to summarize all that I know about Trump.

After watching one of the debates and reading many articles on Trump, it seems to me that Trump is a reflection of the party he represents. This is what we'd expect. The person who most closely represents the views of his constituents in the party should win the nomination.

Yet, there are some detractors who say that if Trump were to win the nomination, he'd destroy the Republican Party. The first that comes to mind is Lindsey Graham:
"If Donald Trump is the nominee, that’s the end of the Republican Party."
Graham is entitled to his amusing assessment of the state of the GOP, but I think that his claim might be exaggerated. It would seem that Graham would much prefer to hide attributes about the GOP rather than see Trump win the nomination. Graham probably would rather not see Trump become the new face of the GOP, as a racist, misogynist plutocrat.

Do a search for "Trump kkk" on any search engine, and you'll see that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorses Trump for president. Of course, Trump promptly rejected the endorsement and disowned any potential racism to be found in his immigration policy proposals. Who would bother to notice that on the same day, Trump ejected a respected Latino reporter from the Univision Latino broadcasting network for asking a question, you know, while doing his job? Racists appear to be flocking to Trump in support of his style of leadership.

Never mind that Trump affiliated companies have sought to import more than 1,100 immigrants to work here on temporary visas in recent years. And don't forget his campaign promises on jobs and immigration:
“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” he said during his campaign launch speech on June 16. “I will bring back our jobs from China, Mexico and other places. I will bring back jobs and our money.”
Perhaps that is what Graham would rather not reveal about the Republican Party. Tough on immigration until it comes to filling American jobs with immigrants willing to work for less. Much less.

During the debate co-hosted by Megan Kelly, Trump was at times harsh and difficult with her while answering questions for the debate. The exchange between them has gone viral on the internet and that same exchange seems to have bumped up the polling for Trump. It's also worth noting that during that debate, Megan Kelly asked Trump a direct question: When did you actually become a Republican?

While many have noted that Trump is at least being up front about his sexism, few have noted that the rest of the field have worked hard to enact their vision of male superiority as law. So to Graham, it's OK to enact that vision as law, but we shouldn't be talking about that so openly in nationally televised debates.

Then there is Trump's murky loyalties. Up until recently, he has given more money to Democrats than Republicans, but now the contributions are solidly in favor of the GOP. In his defense, Trump said, “I give money to everybody.” He complained about Washington politics and said he gives money to everybody because he’s a businessman and that’s just how it works.

And finally, Trump has admitted to being willing to raise taxes on people like himself. This is in stark contrast to a field of candidates leaning the other way. Most of them have signed the famous Grover Norquist Pledge not to raise taxes. Trump hasn't signed yet according to Norquist. For those not familiar with Grover Norquist, he is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. The no new taxes pledge has come to be an important litmus test for proof positive conservatives in elective office.

Nevertheless Trump is leading in the polls according to The Hill, which finds him polling at 35% of support from voters. There are some who place him at 40%, but there is evidence that number could be overstated. In a field of more than 10 candidates, 35% support for Trump is significant.

It may well be that Trump's appeal lies in his willingness to differential himself from the others in his policy proposals, however vague they may be. Some have voiced skepticism that Trump is a true Republican. For example, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), has this to say about Trump:
"I think there's a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate," Curbelo said, as quoted by The Miami Herald. "Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons' foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious."
Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps Mr. Curbelo has confused populism with being a Democrat. It does seem that the two presidential candidates leading each party in the polls are populists. In that sense, one could easily have the sense that two Democrats will win the nomination, one for the Republicans, one for the Democrats.
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