Donald Trump ran his primary campaign on Making America American Again. This meant kick out the illegal Mexicans, stop Muslim immigration, quit making bad “deals” with China, and make our allies pay for our protection. Fact: There’s absolutely no way Trump can win the general election with those positions.
In February, I outlined Trump’s plan to win the White House, which involved running to the left of every GOP candidate in the race. By necessity that means running to the left of Trump himself, but that’s no problem for a chameleon. I wrote “you won’t see the same Donald Trump, who said ‘I am very capable of changing to anything I want to change to.'”
Trump will run to the left of every GOP candidate in the race right now, and will out-conspiracy Sanders, and out-lie Hillary (if that’s even possible). He will appear the least scary choice of them all, sane, sober, and liberal as hell with an (R) after his name.
Trump has already backed down on immigration. At a friendly town hall hosted by extra-friendly Sean Hannity, Trump said “there certainly can be a softening” on deporting illegal immigrants who have “contributed to society.” Trump, the old softie, has gone soft on immigration.
Now, the wall. Hannity threw a softball (is there any other kind?) and asked how long the wall will take to build. The answer was “almost immediately,” with a twist. Trump veered into how environmental impact statements got in the way when they tried to build a wall “like in ’06.” Hannity volunteered that a turtle got in the way.
Without really answering, Trump went on about the wonderful Border Patrol that endorsed him (actually, it was the National Border Patrol Council, a union, not the federal agency itself). But what’s a little over-exaggeration between friends?
Given that Trump will have to move left on practically every issue, or suffer a humiliating landslide on November 8, let’s look at what else he can “soften.”
Mexico paying for the wall. Trump’s official position is to blackmail Mexico by banning people from wiring money from the U.S. to Mexico. He would require a document establishing citizenship to move money outside the U.S. Let’s start off with the fact that federal courts would likely block this. One other way Trump said he’d use to get Mexico to cough up cash was the threat of tariffs. To do this, he’d almost certainly have to violate NAFTA.
What Trump will do: Expect Trump to mention that he will uphold the law and respect the courts (he’s already made mention of this). He may even mention treaties–until he can renegotiate them, during which the Mexican government would tell him where he can stick it and how far up.
Second Amendment. Trump’s official position on gun ownership and law & order is actually pretty decent. The “put more people in prison” approach probably isn’t a good message for African-Americans, though.
“Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?” he asked. “You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
This message is more bait for college-educated whites who live in white communities than it is a real message for the African-American community. We’re not living in Reconstruction or the Great Migration where sharecroppers starved on white plantations. Most Black Americans live as well as whites of similar education, and the 58 percent unemployment figure includes every high school student.
What Trump will do: Trump will admit that law and order depends on trust, and that enforcing existing laws might require some changes to federal firearm laws, including tweaking background checks. Watch for him to advocate closing the so-called “gun show loophole” then walk it back halfway.
Health care. Trump has run on repealing Obamacare. It’s going to have to be essentially repealed anyway, even by Hillary, because it has failed. By the end of 2017, there won’t be enough choice in many states to maintain a solvent risk pool, meaning that premiums could theoretically increase to infinity. Just repealing Obamacare won’t mean a hill of beans. Trump’s official position is very similar to the Republican Study Committee’s plan from 2015.
But Trump’s a softie on health care.
What Trump will do: He’ll punt. He will delegate the entire mess to Congress. Watch for him to throw it at his running make, Mike Pence, and Speaker Paul Ryan. He’ll basically say, “this is an issue for Congress, and I trust my Republican partners there.” This is code for “there’s no frigging way this will make it through a Democrat-controlled Senate, so I’m going to play for a loss.”
China. Trump praised the Chinese in his answer on when he will build a wall. “And you think of China and the south China sea. They’re building this massive fort res. They’re building this, and they’re digging and digging. They said it on Sunday and on Monday morning, they started.” Very efficient, those Chinese.
Here’s Trump’s official position on China:
We have been too afraid to protect and advance American interests and to challenge China to live up to its obligations. We need smart negotiators who will serve the interests of American workers – not Wall Street insiders that want to move U.S. manufacturing and investment offshore.
There’s only one way to get China’s attention, and that’s gunboat diplomacy. Trump’s idea about declaring them a currency manipulator is foolhardy. Doing so would cause an enormous market crash as the Chinese divest their dollars. Hundreds of billions of investor dollars would vanish.
The other big issue with China is intellectual property theft. That’s absolutely a major issue, but it seems that Apple and other large manufacturers have gotten around it–for the most part. But let’s face it, China isn’t going to change unless we park a few aircraft carriers in the Taiwan Strait and shoot down a couple of Shenyang J-16’s. Then they’ll listen.
What Trump will do: Trump won’t go the gunboat diplomacy route. Expect him to blather on about how he will negotiate with the Chinese, and how he gets along with everyone. But the big thing will be his focus on keeping markets stable. Watch Trump to pivot on markets, and try to assuage fears that a Trump presidency will cause massive instability.
He will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with someone like Tom Farley, president of the NYSE, which is owned by EuroNext.
Social agenda. Trump has already signaled his social agenda: Abortion is fine because being pro-life is a personal issue. Transgender bathroom access is a distraction. Gay marriage–NTTAWTT. Religious freedom means attend the church of your choice, and leave the governing to us. This is all perfectly acceptable to most American liberals.
Inequality and opportunity. Watch for Trump to make a major (meaning teleprompter) speech (or during a debate with Hillary) about American opportunity. He will declare that economic inequality is immoral and wrong. He will talk about the disproportionate distribution of capital. He will talk about educational opportunity, student loan debt, and helping those who have been harmed by the policies of the Democrats over the last 50 years. He will sound almost like Lyndon B. Johnson, promising a Great Society.
These are all issues that resonate with liberals, and Trump will make a play for them. By November, he will want (at least for one day) everyone to forget that he’s said all those racist things.
Trump is not a racist. Before November, Trump will surround himself with minorities. Watch, he’s doing it.
Trump is planning trips to urban areas — with stops at churches, charter schools and small businesses in black and Latino communities — and is developing an empowerment agenda based on the economy and education, aides said. Under consideration is an early September visit to Detroit, where retired neurosurgeon and former Republican primary rival Ben Carson would guide him on a tour of the impoverished neighborhoods where he grew up.
Trump’s team also hopes to exploit what the campaign’s internal poll of black voters nationally shows to be a potential vulnerability for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton once voters are informed of the crime policy record of former president Bill Clinton, according to two Trump associates.
The only thing you won’t see Trump do in the next 75 days is release his tax returns. Expect that by November, you will see the real Donald Trump, from a political viewpoint. He’s always been a liberal.