The GOP establishment has thrown its hat in Trump’s corner, thinking that they can muscle in after the billionaire takes down their real boogeyman, Ted Cruz. They think they can control or manipulate Trump because at heart he’s a dealmaker.
Erick rightly pointed out that “a third of Republican voters take him very seriously and a smart businessman whose army is carrying torches and pitchforks will not so easily accommodate a Washington political class thinking it can co-opt Donald Trump.” If Trump is working for the voters who put him in office, why would he be so stupid as to betray them?
“Ha, crossies!” Do you see Trump saying that in his inauguration speech? No, me neither.
Trump’s detractors claim that he’s immoral, clueless, clueless and immoral, a RINO, a liberal, uncivil, and even a criminal. I won’t bother linking all of them; just Google “Trump immoral” and they’ll all show up. Trust me.
I am a Trump detractor for many reasons, but I don’t think he’s immoral. Way back in July, Michael Gerson, a self-proclaimed defender of the GOP (who would love to see the GOP become the Democratic Party Lite), wrote that “A GOP led by Donald Trump will fail, and deserve it.”
Trump’s success is clarifying about the nature of the populism we are seeing. If he leads the revolt, it has little to do with constitutionalism or limited government. Trump is a recent heretic on nearly every issue important to conservatives, from taxes (raise them on the rich) to immigration (Mitt Romney was too harsh) to health care (more liberal than President Obama). Before ambition revised his views, Trump was far to the left of, say, Jeb Bush, or even Jon Huntsman. So Trump’s candidacy can’t primarily be about ideological purification.
This is typical of a Washington political writer, by the way. Populism is an almost pornographic word to them, like “Mother” to the Alphas in Huxley’s “Brave New World.” An ugly pejorative fit for the hoi polloi. My God, a populist actually wants to do things that voters decide they want done? How utterly pre-historic and savage!
In truth, Trump’s rise (and Cruz’s) has everything to do with constitutionalism. And Donald Trump is a Constitutionalist. Tell me, is it against the Constitution to build a wall to keep foreign invaders (what do you call it when 700,000 people cross your southern border?) out? Is it against the Constitution to ban Muslims from entering the country when Muslims inflicted billions of dollars of damages on our country and took thousands of lives?
Is it against the Constitution to negotiate trade agreements favorable to the United States with foreign governments? Is it against the Constitution to run for president as Donald Trump?
No. It’s not.
Many, many people (to paraphrase him) agree with Trump’s positions on these issues. Now, Congress doesn’t agree, and, by the Constitution, Congress has to enact most of these measures–or at least fund them. But let me ask you this: Did Donald Trump say he was going to do these things by executive order? Did he say he wanted to become a dictator?
No. He didn’t.
Barack Obama fashions himself a dictator. Our president is not a Constitutionalist, unless you consider a law professor who taught about the Constitution (I’m not sure you can prove he actually ever actually taught a class, by the way) looking for ways to subvert it a “Constitutionalist.” It’s sort of like calling a bank robber an “economist.”
People dislike Donald Trump because he’s brash, outspoken; and many times, descends beyond the level of simple trash talk into the realm of being a top-notch a-hole. He would not be the first president to be one. Or the last. It’s perfectly valid to oppose Trump for being this way, but it’s who he is.
It’s also valid to oppose Trump for “the lady complaineth too much”–that he’s held nearly every position on every issue at one point or another, so why would we actually think he believes what he says? But a true populist will do what the electorate wants, so angry voters are simply happy that someone is finally listening.
I, personally, believe he’d be a truly awful POTUS. And it’s not because he’s a bad business executive (although I don’t think he’s Henry J. Kaiser or Milton Hershey and bag of chips, either). I think Trump simply isn’t a statesman. He’s a meritocrat dealmaker, and whoever is in the White House has to put up with daily fails large and small. Presidents who tend to focus on the minuscule details end up doing nothing good for the country. Add a healthy dose of a-holishness, a huge capacity for risk-taking, and P.T. Barnum’s ability to find a sucker in every situation, and you have a recipe for disappointment.
Should Trump get into office, I believe he will disappoint in a major way, and when he does, he’ll simply say “I’m right, you elected me, so take what’s coming to you.”
You can agree with me, or you can disagree with me on this. But you can’t argue that Trump is not a Constitutionalist, or that he doesn’t love America, or that he’s “dangerous to democracy” (Gerson again) because he’s uncivil.