Republicans willing to support Donald Trump as their presidential nominee hoped by now to see him pivot into being, well, actually presidential, to have any chance of winning the White House.
Instead he has even Newt Gingrich among others terribly disappointed by his latest racist assumption: Because the judge in his Trump University fraud case is “Mexican” he won’t be impartial to the defendant Trump. After all, he wants to build The Wall and deport undocumented Mexican migrants by the millions back to Mexico.
A few weeks back, we suggested Trump needed to get a political philosophy and coherent message in order to wage a serious campaign against the Democratic nominee. She is likely to be Hillary Clinton, barring any conceivable legal action against her stemming from those “damned emails,” as Bernie Sanders put in one of their debates early on.
Not only must Trump consolidate support from factions of the GOP by the end of the Republican convention in Cleveland this July, he is going to need to attract independent white voters and a much larger percentage of Hispanic and African-American voters than polls show him losing now.
But instead of adopting a political philosophy solidly in line with the American political tradition, Trump has (cliché warning) doubled down on his offensive, divisive style that only reinforces the sense that bigotry guides his campaign.
Trump’s strange attack on this American-born judge of Hispanic descent in the Trump University fraud case is easily explained. This case at its heart contains the worst kind of accusation that can be made against Trump, the ostensible friend of the little guy. That he ripped them off as would any cheap flimflam man, con artist bilking them out of their hard-earned savings. The Builder will have to get a better strategy and a real campaign organization to ride this one out.
The Trump temptation for millions of voters attracted to him at long last is much more than he “says it like it is” as vanquisher of that irksome political correctness they so heartily reject. It is that he is an agent of change that will get things done. More than that, Trump has managed to become to each of his supporters a reflection of their own political desires, fantasies and wish fulfillment.
To this I plead guilty myself for suggesting a few weeks back that in Post-Conservative America, the American Nationalist Trump is placed to be the Progressive Conservative candidate in the line of Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, Lincoln, and both Teddy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. But it may be sheer fantasy that Donald Trump has the depth of historical imagination to be the Empire State Builder, a Progressive Tory such as Britain’s Disraeli or Canada’s John A. Macdonald.
Instead of the pugilist Archie Bunker, Trump could pivot into the Keynesian Big Government Conservative who would spend billions to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure—highways, bridges, airports, railways. Stimulate manufacturing plants and revive whole industries, steel, iron, coal. Grow oil and gas production and foster new technologies that create jobs. Put great swaths of the underemployed blue-collar working classes back to work at living wages.
Some would argue the restoration of the American manufacturing plant is a quixotic dream flailing against the realism of the global marketplace. Others would say conscious public policy choices were made that got us here.
Trump is in the end the nostalgia candidate. The one my mother and late father favored. The one who spoke to that generation who came of age in the 1950s and prospered in the ‘60s and early ‘70s before it all went to hell in 1973-75, but Reagan made great again in 1980. It is no accident that Trump borrowed Reagan’s slogan.
History beckons: Will Trump give a majority of American voters a coherent message and reasons to vote for him? Or will he merely turn out to be one big accidental nominee propelled onto the national and world stage by a dumbed-down populace star-struck by celebrity? Flash over true substance, the stuff of history – Gravitas. Trump must now show some of it to be fit for this highest office.