Many are predicting he’ll ditch all the positions that have gotten him this far; in fact, perhaps he already has:
But over the past few months, there has been a lot of evidence that Trump’s populist-nationalism is disintegrating. In September he released a tax-reform plan that is much beloved by the most anti-nationalist conservative thinkers around. In fact it is the very thing that Beltway creatures like Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth cite when they try to explain their sudden and perplexing support for Donald Trump.
Trump has also sounded completely out of his depth on immigration, much to the chagrin of his restrictionist fans. In a debate in Detroit, where Trump would supposedly have some of his most nationalist-minded fans, Trump said, “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in.” He described his position on immigration as “softening” and then long-windedly explained why Americans would not take seasonal jobs on some of Trump’s American properties. One of the reasons he offered was the weather. That’s right, the pro-American-worker Trump says that America is just too hot for American workers. Trump also pushed “touchback” amnesty, where illegal immigrants are granted legal status if they go home and obtain a guest-worker pass from an employer. Suddenly the “big beautiful door” in the Mexican border wall sounds a lot bigger. As Trump has begun to emphasize about immigration, “everything is negotiable.”
Trump’s non-interventionism also seems to be on the table. In the Detroit debate he talked about creating “safe zones” in Syria to stem the refugee flow. And in the Miami debate he said he would commit ground troops to Syria and Iraq: “We really have no choice, we have to knock out ISIS… I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000-30,000.” It is unclear which generals have Trump’s ear, but the number of troops he cited sounds remarkably like he has been told about Frederick Kagan’s white paper on defeating ISIS. Essentially, Trump endorsed the plan for Iraq and Syria that has been promoted lustily by Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. In other words, gone is the America-first foreign policy, in comes the non-credible plan to transform the region again through force of arms, with America leading a mythical, and surely quite moderate, Sunni fighting force.
As Ben Carson aptly put it last week, “There are two Donald Trumps.” Indeed, Trump has confessed he plans to change from nationalist caterpillar into establishmentarian butterfly. “When I’m president I’m a different person. I can do anything. I can be the most politically correct person you have ever seen.”
Indeed, the transformation is already showing. On policy, Trump is caving to normal Republicanism. He’s trying to get elected by pining for someone to finish the dang fence but has amnesty on the mind. He’s promising to protect American workers from unfair competition, but angling to pass a plutocratic tax reform. By the end of his campaign the only thing he’ll have added to the Republican Party is a reputation for crudity and disorderly violence.
His nationalist challenge to the status quo is disintegrating before our eyes. Instead of the inevitable transformation of the American right, Donald Trump is just the most successful huckster, selling gold coins and survival seeds to a scared public.
So, if that happens, that he completely dashes the hopes of those who vote for him by doing nothing of what they believed he would?
Again, they’ll become dis-illusioned. They’ll lose their illusions, and stop the farce of bothering to vote, unless someone arises who actually gives them a reason to vote.
They’ll henceforth withdraw their consent, and show the system to be the farce it already is…
Something will have to give; the ruling class will have to give people a reason to believe in liberal democracy, or they’ll stop doing so, and with good reason.
Then things will get really interesting. There will be some sort of resolution, though it may not be what many would like.