As we get closer to actual votes being cast in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary, I want to explore the right’s fascination with Donald Trump. Riding high in the national polls, Trump has seemed to capture the support of conservatives, tea partiers, and disaffected Republicans turned Independent who are turned off by the current Republican leadership and are looking for someone to shake things up.
But just what is it about Donald Trump that has people so fired up? Why is he attracting so many people on the right side of the political spectrum to his banner? More importantly, what exactly are his supporters expecting out of a Trump Presidency? That is a hard answer to nail down, considering just about every position Donald Trump has taken during this campaign is a reversal of his previous positions. Consider this:
On Immigration – Donald Trump has made his biggest splash in the campaign by taking a hard line stance on immigration. He has called for the deportation of all illegal aliens, building the wall on our southern border, and a temporary freeze on all Muslim immigrants from entering the country.
But in 2011, he called for inviting foreigners who graduate from college to stay in the U.S. (Source: Time to Get Tough, by Donald Trump, p.145 , Dec 5, 2011). In addition, Trump’s companies have sponsored over 1,100 foreign workers into the U.S. through the H-2A, H-2B, and H1-B visa programs, which allow U.S. companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor that is beholden to the company that brings them here as they are forbidden to look for work anywhere else.
On taxes and spending – During this campaign, Trump has championed strong, fiscally conservative tax and spend policies, but in 1999 he called for a massive (albeit one time) confiscation of personal wealth in order to pay down the National Debt (Source: Boston Globe, p. A19 , Nov 10, 1999). This plan would affect people and trusts valued at more than $10 Million, taking over 14% of their net wealth. Most Americans would have been spared this tax hit, but the ripple effects through the economy of such a taking would be disastrous.
On Abortion – Donald Trump calls himself pro-life, but in 1999 he called himself pro-choice, even supporting partial birth abortion. In 2000, he said he would ban partial birth abortions. Today he still supports allowing abortions, only saying they should be banned, “at some point in pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother.” (Source: PBS News Hour “2016 Candidate Stands” series, Jun 16, 2015)
On Affirmative Action/Gay Marriage – Trump has previously stated that he is opposed to gay marriage, but in August, 2015 Trump declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling means Gay Marriage is a settled issue and that “anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons.” (Source: Hollywood Reporter 2015 coverage: 2016 presidential hopefuls, Aug 19, 2015)
Trump also signaled his support for Affirmative action, saying that there may come a time when we don’t need it, but that he’s “fine with it.” (Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls, Oct 18, 2015)
On Gun Control – During the current campaign, Trump has come out as a strong supporter of the second amendment, but back in 2000, in his book, The America We Deserve, Trump supports a ban on assault weapons and a 72 hour waiting period.
On Free Trade – During the current campaign, Trump has called for restricting free trade to protect American jobs, and that the TPP is a horrible idea. However in Jan, 2008, Trump declared that we should embrace globalization and the international markets.
“The important thing to consider is that more and more there is an interdependence of world economies. No one can afford to be isolationist any more. Keep your focus global. Globalization has torn down the barriers that have formerly separated the national from the international markets.” (Source: Never Give Up, by Donald Trump, p.158 , Jan 18, 2008)
On Health Care/Obamacare – During this campaign, Trump has called Obamacare a disaster which should be repealed and replaced, but in 2000, Donald Trump called for universal health care, and in his book, The America we Deserve, Trump said this:
“Our objective [should be] to make reforms for the moment and, longer term, to find an equivalent of the single-payer plan that is affordable, well-administered, and provides freedom of choice. Possible? The good news is, yes. There is already a system in place-the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program-that can act as a guide for all healthcare reform. It operates through a centralized agency that offers considerable range of choice. While this is a government program, it is also very much market-based. It allows 620 private insurance companies to compete for this market. Once a year participants can choose from plans which vary in benefits and costs.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds A LOT like the Obamacare exchanges to me.
Where does Donald Trump give his money?
Out on the campaign trail, Trump has attacked the Democrats and the Republican establishment with equal fervor. Yet Trump has a history of financially supporting Democrats and the GOP establishment. Does Trump give to Conservative and Tea Party candidates? Not so much. Consider the list of Democrats he has given money to:
Bill and Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Charlie Rangel, Kristen Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Anthony Weiner (to name a few). In addition, Trump gave over $77,000 to the Democrats in 2006, helping them take back control of Congress. Trump also gave $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel in 2010 for his successful campaign for Mayor of Chicago, and he has given $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
More recently Trump has given money to Republican causes…just not conservative ones. In 2010 Trump gave $50,000 to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC which helps moderate candidates. In 2012 he gave $100,000 to John Boehner’s Congressional Leadership PAC, which also worked to support moderate Republicans over Tea Party candidates. Finally, in 2013 Trump gave $50,000 to Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC to help him fend off a Tea Party primary challenge.
How can Trump really complain about the failures of GOP leadership when he helped keep them in power?
Now I know that some people will say, “he’s changed his position,” or, “he’s grown over time.” It’s true that some candidates may hold a bad position on an issue and will change their opinion over time. But we’re not talking about a single issue, or two, or even three. We are talking about every major issue that Conservatives care about. Can you think of any other candidate that could receive a pass on so many flip flops during their career? Marco Rubio holds more conservative positions than Donald Trump does, but he will never live down his membership in the Gang of 8 which tried to push amnesty on this country, and is a major reason why I don’t support Rubio for president.
So I want to hear from you. If you are a Conservative, or a Tea Party person, or someone who has walked away from the party because of your frustration with the weakness of the GOP establishment, please tell me. Why do you support Trump? What makes him “Teflon Don?” What exactly do you think he will do as President? Do you believe he will nominate Conservative judges to the Supreme Court? Do you believe he will follow through on his campaign promises? Given the numerous reversals of his positions on every major issue, and his financial support of leftist Democrats and the GOP establishment, what is it that makes you believe him this time?