Donald Trump tells us that he thinks that he should be the next president of the United States.
Donald Trump also bankrupted a casino. Let that sink in for a minute. Consider the almost herculean effort it takes for the house to lose money on gambling to the point that it has to go out of business, because registered Republicans apparently haven’t. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, according to multiple polls, Trump is your new GOP frontrunner.
In the age where the low information voter is king, how far Trump goes in the primaries is entirely up to Trump. Personally, I don't believe that he's serious enough to subject himself to detailed financial disclosure and the ridicule that would result from it. For example, the Donald is worth nowhere near his stated $9 billion, and he only got that number by valuing his name at $3.5 billion. Since Trump doesn’t take mockery well, I believe that he'll drop out in about 90 days.
But what if I’m wrong? Trump, whatever he’s worth, has enough money to self-finance through the convention, and run as an independent if he doesn’t cotton to the eventual nominee.
Trump isn’t much of a Republican but, as of late, neither are most Republicans.
Commentary is rending its garments over Trump’s donations to several high profile Democrats, but that’s undercut somewhat by the party’s almost schizophrenic populism. Republicans regularly denounce “crony-capitalism”, but their policy agenda continues to further the idea that corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want, frequently at taxpayer expense. They decry bank bailouts, but seem to ignore that the term “Too Big to Fail” might actually mean what it implies, thereby guaranteeing that another round of bailouts will someday be necessary.
Republicans generally, and the Tea Party in particular, believes that corporations are people with inalienable speech rights, so long as they’re donating money to Republican candidates and causes. However, when they speak their minds on gay rights or the Confederate flag, they suddenly become enablers of “liberal fascism.”
Like many Republicans, Trump extols the virtues of “traditional marriage”, despite being on his third one. And so, too, do many “values voters.” Jesus didn’t have much to say about homosexuality, but he was hard to shut up on the subject of divorce. It was notable that among the Republicans on the presidential debate stage in 2008, the only ones still in their first marriage were a Mormon, a Libertarian who didn’t care about the issue much and Huckabee.
Trump’s answer to almost any controversy with foreign governments (including China, which the United States is indebted to to the tune of at least a trillion dollars) is tariffs that are illegal under NAFTA and GATT and at odds with at least a generation of free market orthodoxy.
Like it or not, free trade was explicitly designed to facilitate the free movement of goods and people across borders. Almost by definition, it limits the concept of national sovereignty, which is why rank and file progressive are repulsed by it. However, the Donald is moving closer to the positions of Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter, who want not only to stem the tides of illegal immigration, but all immigration. In that, they are more isolationist than they accuse Libertarians of being in military affairs. It is increasingly a party that rhapsodizes about the free market, but wants the central government to limit the movement of goods and people.
Do primary voters care? The polls indicate that they don't, so long as he baits Mexicans and the very media that made him what he is today.
To be fair, Donald Trump did not create these intellectual schisms in the party. But like any master opportunist, he has exploited them to his benefit. Trump is, in my humble opinion, a joke, both as a candidate and as a human being.
But what he represents in the conservative movement isn’t funny at all.
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