In June, Donald Trump offered a conservative perspective on how to handle illegal immigration. Since then, he’s rolled out liberal policy proposal after liberal policy proposal and somehow he’s been able to keep many conservatives on his side. What’s his secret?
Before we get into details about how that worked out, it’s important to take a look at what made all of this possible in the first place. Trump has been considering a run for at least 13 years. It’s likely he considered it as early as the late-80s, but those days are a little less politically-focused. His pseudo-run in 1999 allowed him to dip his toes in the water. Then, around 2003, Trump started sharpening his tone against politicians, particularly George W. Bush. It was during this time that he worked his network of allies to gauge whether or not George W. Bush was weak enough to be beaten. It’s hard to beat an incumbent, though George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter showed that it can happen when the candidate is weak enough. Based upon the fear of another 9/11 and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan still semi-popular, he decided against it.
He thought about it again in 2007. He ramped up his attacks on Republicans in general and President Bush in particular. It was at this time that he talked to his good friends Bill and Hillary Clinton about whether or not they thought he should run. When it became clear early in 2007 that Hillary would be running, he backed off once again. In fact, he probably abandoned his dream of being President.
Something miraculous happened. Hillary didn’t win. She didn’t even get the nomination. Trump came out with some nice words for young President Obama, but the seed for another avenue came around. Could he attack Obama? Was there an opportunity to reverse his reputation as a liberal Democrat? It would be challenging since he was on record as supporting universal healthcare, the Clintons, abortion, Harry Reid, gun control, Chuck Schumer, affirmative action, Nancy Pelosi, and gay marriage, but it wasn’t impossible. Not for him. Nothing is impossible for The Donald, at least not in The Donald’s own mind.
He studied. He had his team do the research. He found the path. He found the flash bang that could discombobulate the Republican party and the liberal mainstream media in one fell swoop.
Immigration Trumps All
Trump’s team and his own incredibly sharp sales and marketing mind came to the conclusion that illegal immigration was the nerve that could numb all other senses if touched. It was the river of Republican gold that he could tap into to erase his liberal history and smokescreen his other liberal policy ideas. The Republican Establishment has considered illegal immigration to be taboo since the 90s, the wishlist item that could never be turned into a primary platform item out of fear of losing all of the minority voters. Nobody likes to be labeled as a racist, so they viewed it as a second term item for a future President to possibly consider handling. Trump saw it not as taboo but rather as the main ingredient in the magic spell he wanted to cast on the people.
In 2011, he strongly considered it. While it wasn’t ideal to try to usurp a popular sitting President, he explored the possibility and came to the conclusion that Obama wouldn’t be easy enough to defeat. Besides, as long as he could stay healthy for four more years, he knew that it’s always easier to be the opposition party following a two-term incumbent. The rest of the decision-making process has played out before our eyes over the last year.
Illegal immigration is an important topic to many Americans, particularly conservatives. Invoking it, particularly with ideas such as building a wall and deporting all illegal immigrants, is the trump card against all other issues when it comes to conservative credibility. If someone is tough on illegal immigration, they’re conservative across the board (or so the thinking goes).
The problem is that he’s not conservative. Not at all. Looking at his policy proposals from his moderate progressive tax plan to a trade policy that is the closest to matching Bernie Sanders’ (yes, Trump’s plan is closer to Sanders’ than even Hillary Clinton’s plan), we see a trend. He’s conservative on two or three talking point issues while being liberal on literally dozens of other items.
It doesn’t matter, at least not to his supporters. They want a wall built and that’s all there is to it. They don’t care (or know) whether his other platform items are more liberal than Clinton’s proposals. On the surface based upon his straight-talk and immigration rhetoric, he’s their guy to the end.
The sad part is that Ted Cruz is even more conservative on immigration and national defense, but he has the conservative economic, foreign relations, and Constitutional platforms to go with them. In other words, he’s not hiding liberal ideas behind immigration the way that Trump does.
There are two types of Republicans who don’t care that Trump is a liberal: those who don’t research any of his policy proposals other than immigration and moderates who agree with touchback amnesty, affirmative action, eminent domain, and his other liberal platforms.
Here’s a video we did discussing how his liberal perspectives have flourished: