Trust me when I tell you that there is absolutely nothing that would make me happier than to find out that Donald Trump would actually come to prove himself to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But I have this nagging little voice in the back of my head warning me to very wary of Mr. Trump. And while he most certainly has been saying all the right things, as my dear old dad used to say, “Talk is cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey.” So at the end of the day I am at the point where I still can’t quite bring myself to vote for Trump as I simply don’t trust him to follow through on so much of what he has promised, and continues to promise.
But be that as it may, as we all know, Trump currently leads, and has been leading, the polls nationally and in most states in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and essentially since the very first day he declared himself a candidate. And there are certainly some very understandable reasons for his maintaining what has become, in some polls, a very impressive lead. And while he has shown himself to be a skillful campaigner, I would caution conservatives in offering up their support to Mr. Trump in the caucuses and primaries. And please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying don’t vote for the man, just that you should think it through first.
Because in looking back over the history of our current Republican front-runner what we see is someone who has been described as being a “philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.” And upon closer inspection we find that the real-estate mogul and reality-TV star has supported everything from abortion to gun control to single-payer health care à la Canada, and even punitive taxes on the wealthy. So, again, all I’m asking for folks to do is that a little caution be used when going to the polls.
Now I will admit that since first declaring his candidacy, back in June of last year, Trump has tended to take a more conservative approach than he has in the past. Particularly on those issues that remain near and dear to the heart of those who closely identify themselves as being conservatives. And yet, one must admit that there does remain some rather sizable holes in Trump’s plan for addressing some of these issues, most of which tend to go ignored by a great many of his supporters. He has succeeded in exploiting the discontent regarding a government continues to be seen by many as one that can’t be bothered to enforce its own laws.
Trump’s mantra since then has been, and remains, one that has as its primary focus that Washington is full of problems, his claim of being a problem-solver and a leader, and a ‘let me at ‘em’ kind of an attitude. But if, like Trump, you have no real familiarity with the relevant details and the levers of power, and no clear principles to guide you, you will, like most tenderfeet, end up getting rolled. Especially if you are, at least by all outward indications, the most poll-obsessed politician in all of American history. Trump has shown very little interest in limiting government, in reforming entitlements, or in defending our Constitution.
As we have seen after listening to the three Democrat candidates, any candidate can, and usually will, promise the moon if only voters will elect him, or her, to higher office. But politicians have records of success, of failure, or plain of backsliding by which their promises must be judged. And while Trump can try to turn his blankness into some sort of virtue by referring to it as a kind of innocence, voters need to be taking such a claim with a grain of salt. Because like a man with no credit history applying for a mortgage, or, in this case, applying to manage a $3.8 Trillion budget and the most fearsome military on earth, Trump may be in over his head.
And if Trump were to become the president, the Republican nominee, or even a failed candidate with strong conservative support, what would that necessarily say about conservatives? Could it then be said, and with some degree of accuracy, that the movement that ground down the Soviet Union and took the shine, at least temporarily, off socialism would have fallen in behind a huckster? The movement concerned with such “permanent things” as constitutional government, marriage, and the right to life would have become a claque for a Twitter feed. Trump, nevertheless, has provided to the Republican Party with a valuable warning.
That being, of course, that if responsible men irresponsibly ignore, or simply refuse to address in any meaningful way, those issues deemed as being most important to those voters who proudly identify as conservative, then those in power should not be surprised when such behavior is then seized upon, and taken advantage of, by someone like Trump. If they cannot explain their Beltway maneuvers — worse, if their maneuvering is indefensible — they will be rejected by their own voters. If they cannot advance a compelling working-class agenda, the legitimate anxieties and discontents of blue-collar voters will be exploited by demagogues.
And, you know, I totally get the complaints coming from those who call themselves supporters of Trump when it comes to ‘Establishment Republicans”, I really do. But that doesn’t make him any less of a flawed candidate for them to get behind. And while I am certainly not going to be telling anyone that they should not vote for Trump, because that’s not my purpose here, what I am asking for is that those of you who do intend to vote for him, at least do some level of research on the man before doing so. But then, you should be doing that regardless of whomever, Republican or Democrat, it is that you intend on voting for.