If someday Donald Trump writes a book and comes clean about his run for the White House, I’m not going to be shocked if he says he gave serious thought to running as a Democrat but declined for one and only one reason: because he figured he had a better chance of winning the nomination running as a Republican.
Trump is like the wildebeest at the watering hole, the one with the most advanced, the most finely-tuned instincts; instincts that tell him to take off a nanosecond before the lion shows up to devour his pals. And it’s those well-developed reflexes, I think, that convinced Trump that a run against Hillary for the Democratic Party’s nomination would be futile. So, Trump figured, if I want to be President of the United States that leaves only one other choice.
But in spite of his decision to run as a Republican, Trump would have been right at home running as a Democrat. He thinks (as I’ve written in this space) that Bush “lied” about getting us into a war in Iraq. That’s what Moveon.org and Code Pink believe.
He thinks eminent domain is “wonderful” – and not only when the government confiscates private property to build a road or a school or a hospital. He thinks it’s great even when big government takes somebody’s house in order to build a factory, or a resort, or even a limo parking lot for gamblers at Trump’s casino in Atlantic City.
He says he’s against ObamaCare but in favor of universal health care paid for by the government. As recently as last September he told 60 Minutes, “I’m going to take care of everybody.” And when he was asked how he would pay for taking care of everybody, he said: “The government’s going to take care of it.” Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the socialist, would be fine with that.
And before he got into the race he sounded more like Rosie O’Donnell than William F. Buckley.
In 1999, he said the GOP was “just too crazy” so he joined the Reform Party.
In 2000, he let everyone know just how he felt about guns. “I hate the concept of guns,” he said.
In 2004, he came right out and said it: “I identify more as a Democrat.”
In 2007 he said that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified person to make a nuclear deal with Iran.
A year later he said he was “impressed” with Nancy Pelosi and backed the idea of impeaching then president George Bush.
But, yes, people evolve, so it’s possible that Donald Trump woke up one morning in his penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York and had a come to Reagan moment and decided that conservative values made more sense than liberal values.
But who are we kidding: It’s possible only in the way that anything is possible – like going to Mars next Tuesday for doughnuts and coffee is kind of possible.
I’m not cynical, but if you ask me it was something else that turned Donald Trump to the right – on guns, on abortion, and the rest. I think it was good old-fashioned opportunism. And it was easy for Trump. He’s not an ideologue. More than anything else, he’s a practical businessman. His motto might as well be: I’m for whatever works – as long as it works for ME!
At any other time, voters would see Donald Trump for what he is, which as a friend of mine puts it is, “At best a phony untrustworthy ally and more likely an antagonist to most things they claim to hold dear.”
But this isn’t any other time, which explains why so many Republicans along with more than a few Democrats fill auditoriums wherever he goes. They may not know, or care, what his position is on taxes or how he would defeat ISIS or make Mexico pay for his wall. Those are mere technicalities to his loyal followers.
For them, Donald Trump, more than anything else, is a symbol. He is the middle finger aimed at everything they’ve come to despise about politicians.
And as crazy as it sounds, a lot of them aspire to be Donald Trump, the guy who flies into town on a big jet with TRUMP plastered in big letters on the side of the plane.
The Trump mystique works for them. And so far it’s been working pretty well for Trump too.