Sunday, July 26, 2015

Donald Trump is a Mushy Moderate

Anyone who has seen Trump's "The Apprentice" should already know what I know: That, despite his bloviating and general lack of language discipline (intentional or not), he is in his heart a reasonable business guy.  Yes, he prefers to make big, bold, and often controversial proclamations to make his point clear -- and to create a power advantage in negotiations. And, yes, when he's personally attacked, he replies with almost unheard-of levels of venom. Further complicating things, he is a sloppy (if not slightly dyslexic) communicator.

But, when push comes to shove, he generally ends up developing rational and fairly reasonable determinations when the matters get specific.

Case in point: his stance on immigration. You'd think from his rhetoric, which was truly over-the-top and insulting to many Mexicans, that he is essentially a racist and anti-immigrant.

Yet, if you read what he said...

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
What he's really saying has nothing to do with immigrants. He's making a nationalist argument while sounding like a nativist racist. He's saying that the problematic immigrants are part of an intentional import/export strategy of the Mexican government.  He's clearly making this a Mexican government problem -- similar to how he appears to distrust China, Japan, and presumably every other country in the world.  As a business man, he likely sees other countries like other companies  -- constantly looking to compete and put you out of business.

Remember how I said above that Trump "ends up developing rational and fairly reasonable determinations when matters get specific" while you probably rolled your eyes and almost clicked "close" on this browser window?  Check out how problem-solver Trump looks at immigration when it comes to the immigrants themselves -- once he gets beyond the us-versus-them nationalism he defaults to in his rhetoric:
"[First,] we give [the trouble-making illegal immigrants] back to Mexico or we make sure they stay where they came from.  [Then], I have to tell you, some of these people have been here; they've done a good job; in some cases sadly they've been living under the shadows. We have to do something, so whether it's merit, or whether it's whatever, but -- I'm a believer in the merit system. Somebody's been outstanding, we (ought to) try to work something out."
Let's be frank: it's usually far more effective for progressive policies to be hosted by conservative politicians, and visa-versa. And this looks like the makings of a truly progressive policy that is wrapped up in a conservative firebrand shell.  This is the Donald Trump I've seen in action for decades (with the key exception of his "birther" tendencies - which really did seem unhinged; yet still influential enough to force a sitting President to produce his birth certificate).

Donald Trump is a real long-shot to be President due to the very attributes that get him so much attention during the primary season. But if he were to become President somehow, I for one would not be nearly as worried as so many are. I have watched The Apprentice enough to know that his bluster and hyperbolic antics are merely the fire-breathing facade that gives him the cover and political space to be far more reasonable while not losing support of his base - or the fear of his adversaries.