Donald Trump Is Not Who You Think He Is

Onyx Contributor:  Tim Druck (@southendtimd)

Whether or not you agree with his politics, Donald Trump’s brilliance can’t be overstated.  This man is far from ignorant.  And he’s crushing an entire field of professional politicians at their own game.  Think about it.

This is a guy who has managed to run a basically cost-free campaign — by repeatedly saying outrageous things (which I suspect are not at all sincerely-held positions) he has replaced the necessity of paid advertisement with free media coverage.  This has also freed him from the necessity of kowtowing to his corporate masters for more campaign funds, which actually seems to give him the appearance of being the candidate with the most integrity in the Republican primary fight.  Can that be possible?  Donald Trump is the guy who got the money out of politics?  And he did it by getting the news media to fund his campaign?  Brilliance.

This is a man who is destroying the Republican field while calling the Iraq War a mistake.  While calling out the Bush administration for lying about Iraq.  Trump wants to close tax loopholes for the very rich and the special interests, and wants to use infrastructure projects to spur the economy.  Trump supports requiring companies to pay prevailing wage to H-1B visa workers.  Trump wants to punish trade ‘partners’ who depend on sweatshop labor and lax environmental laws to beat American companies on cost.  Trump is against Obamacare, but has proposed a national healthcare program that is remarkably similar to the single-payer Federal system advocated by Democrats during their primary eight years ago.  Trump is as much a supporter of abortion rights as any Republican can be, and has been willing to stand up to members of his own party when they say ridiculous things.

Do any of those things sound like a Tea Party Republican to you?

What has Donald Trump’s politics revealed?  That Democratic goals are conservative goals, and that Republicans aren’t really conservative at all.  Make keeping your house in order your first priority.  Don’t pick fights unless you really mean it.  Treat people fairly and with respect.  Pay a fair price, but make sure you get your money’s worth.  Don’t do business with people with the unprincipled and unscrupulous.  Take care of those who take care of you.

All values that most of us learned at home.

The truth is that Donald Trump is the best Republican that progressive liberals could ask for.  Take away the outrageous rhetoric, and he’s one of us.

There’s lots that I disagree with re:  Trump.  His attitudes toward women are appalling.  But many of the controversial statements he’s made are simply that — empty statements.

Donald Trump is a businessman, and a fairly successful one — if you think he really believes he’s going to build a wall on the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it, you’re dumber than you think he is.  But in this Tea Party-controlled environment, that’s what a majority of Republican primary voters want to hear.

Donald Trump is a negotiator.  You don’t really think he believes he’s going to send the Army all over the world and make good Democrats and Republicans out of Kim Jong Un and Hassan Rouhani, do you?  But that’s what a majority of Republican primary voters want to hear.

Donald Trump doesn’t hate Blacks and Mexicans and Muslims.  His properties employ hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and market to wealthy Middle Easterners spending oil money.  The majority of Republican primary voters hate blacks and Mexicans and Muslims, and that’s what they want to hear.

He has to say those things to win the Republican primary, because the marketing genius under that hairdo recognizes that it’s the simplest path to the Presidency.

The truth is that Donald Trump is BY FAR the most centrist candidate in the whole shooting match, by actual position on the issues at hand.  He’s running the most-effective campaign.  The reason his opponents look like bumbling fools is that they actually are.  And you’d best believe that, because he was a Democrat for so long, he’s the best-positioned Republican candidate for the shift back to the center that the General Election requires — the move that made John McCain and Mitt Romney look so inauthentic and dishonest.

Want to know why Hillary Clinton shows so poorly against Trump in general election polls?  He’s cleaner than her, and more liberal to boot.  For many of us, there’s just so much water under the bridge with Hillary.  To me, she represents an old way of thinking, a system that perpetuates itself by creating more dependency on itself, a system that tells you that you need the system.  Her ties to banking, corporations and the Democratic establishment make us feel like the fix is in, and like she’s more of what came before Barack Obama — the systemic politics-as-usual we were revolting against in 2008 and 2012.  She’s become the anti-Obama.  She’s become The Man.

Whither Bernie Sanders?  If you take away the free college and the misogyny, they’re largely the same guy.  Today’s voters distrust the establishment, and they distrust Big Money.  Trump and Sanders are the two candidates who represent this sentiment the best — Sanders by eschewing the usual big funding, and Trump by largely ignoring funding altogether.  But Bernie Skywalker is depending on the Jedi vote — he has to get every one of his own base, because he’s not going to win any of the opposition.  This is usually a problem for arch-conservatives who don’t sell well with swing voters and moderates, but applies more and more the more Sanders’ opponents are able to collar him with the ‘socialist’ label, no matter how much he tries to own it.  Alternately, Donald-Wan Kenobi is on his Jedi Mind Trick, essentially waving his hand at the most conservative voters in America saying, “I’m the bigoted, outspoken radical you’re looking for”, winning the radical vote from a position from which he can still reach the center.

Trump still has to deal with the outrageous statements — the misogyny and the apparent racism and the justified anger of Latinos and Muslims and women.  But there will be a time in this campaign he can run on his record.  That time has not come, but it is not far away.

“Sure, that’s what I said, but look at my company’s track record of hiring women and minorities.  I might have a big mouth, but women make equivalent salaries to men in the same positions in Trump, Inc.  If I didn’t like Islam, would I have built a copy of the Taj Mahal in New Jersey?  Judge my actions, not my words.”  He may even state outright that his outrageous comments early in the campaign were calculated to jump-start his run. This is 2016.  People understand marketing.  I’m not endorsing Donald Trump.  I’m not endorsing anybody.  But I’m suggesting that it might be time to view the Trump candidacy in the light it deserves — a masterful execution of the art of running for President, on a level that most of the other candidates can’t even comprehend, let alone emulate.  I’m not willing to say that Donald Trump would be the best President, but he’s by-far the best at being a candidate.  And that counts.  A lot.

Photo credit:  Damon Winter

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