It might seem impossible to be ambivalent about Donald Trump, but it’s true: I am a right-winger who is ambivalent about Trump.
The back and forth between Trump haters and lovers has not been much help, either. The haters ignore the potentially tectonic strengths Trump could bring to the general election and to shaking up the DC Cartel, while Trump lovers are way too quick to write off Trump’s foolishly liberal track record on many important issues.
So here’s what should make Trump appealing to conservatives, followed by what should give us nightmares.
The case for Trump
Reason One: The Democrats are on the cusp of importing enough very poor immigrants to create a liberal electoral lock that would spell an end to limited government and endanger everything conservatives have labored on for the last 50 years. Already, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.
Anti-Trump conservatives have replied with meaningless bromides like “Latinos are natural conservatives” and “America is a nation of immigrants.”
Democrats have not won their massive policy gains in our lifetimes by changing minds, as Ann Coulter points out. They did it by changing the electorate.
Countless studies have shown legal and illegal immigrants are more liberal than American citizens. They are more supportive of Big Government and government run health care, and less protective of the first amendment, the second amendment, and other basic tenets of conservatism. Immigrant households also use taxpayer-funded welfare programs at a dramatically higher rate than native-born households.
Open borders and mass amnesty will doom Constitutional conservatism and further expand the welfare state. The fundamental transformation will be complete. Trump is centering his candidacy on preventing this.
Reason Two: As Matthew Dowd, former consultant to President George W. Bush, recently said about Trump: “Do I think he can be the badly needed match that burns down the status quo? Yes.”
Simple question: is the bipartisan status quo that controls Washington and Wall Street working for America? Sure it works great for the 1%. I’d say it works quite well for the top 10%, perhaps a bit more. But for the other 90% of Americans, it’s a raw deal, one that is hollowing out our nation and weakening their future.
Trump is one of a precious few candidates who could plausibly break the DC Cartel. (The others are [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson.)
And it’s not just politicians. Trump can break the grip of what Andrew Breitbart called the Democrat Media Complex. CNN’s Candy Crowley actively intervened to help destroy Mitt Romney’s momentum and ensure Obama’s reelection. Think Trump would allow a reporter or TV network to do that to him?
While Republicans typically suck up to and cower before leading Democrats like Jorge Ramos and Stephen Colbert, Trump is willing to go to war against the powerful media forces that carefully select what is seen and heard by tens of millions of Americans. Trump threatens Democrats’ 50-year monopoly on media messaging.
Take anchor babies. For years, there was a media blackout on the hundreds of thousands of babies born each year to illegal aliens – babies that guarantee a lifetime of payments from the American taxpayers to these families. Many or most Americans had no idea it was even happening. Now, everyone from your Aunt to my 7-Eleven cashier is debating birthright citizenship and the merits of our taxes funding millions of anchor babies and their families.
How many other inconvenient truths the Democrat Media has kept hidden will Trump educate Americans about?
Reason Three: Trump might be able to steal away from Democrats millions of African-American and working and middle class white votes, in a realignment not seen since Reagan’s victories.
If Trump wins 20% of African-Americans, for example, he will win the election. In addition or alternately, Trump could peel off millions of white union members, whites without college educations, and other groups that the Democrats despise except on election day.
George Will, in an article attacking Trump, noted that Romney won only 59% of the white vote. After decades of Democrats waging war on working class whites, who doubts that Trump could increase that level of white support?
His immigration policies, his hints that his tax plan will side with the middle class over hedge fund multi-millionaires, his willingness to criticize multinational corporations, his outsider status, and yes, his celebrity, give him a realistic chance to realign the parties to the gain of the GOP.
Reason Four: celebrity.
Put aside all the position papers and consider this: In every presidential election since 1972 (some would say even earlier), the more charismatic candidate has won. Also in that time, conservatives have been further and further marginalized in movies, TV, music, the news media and now Silicon Valley – the places where the culture is defined for tens of millions of Americans who vote every four years but have almost no interest in politics or public policy.
In such a world, why not choose a nominee who is a genuine megastar, a proven hit on “reality TV,” and is himself a highly profitable personal brand in the league of Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan?
The GOP must win this presidential election. Trump is a marketing expert, TV star and media guru. His motto is the best of any candidate’s in decades – “make America great again.” His Twitter feed is an addictive hoot. GOP candidates seldom have a clue about any of this. Why not accept the world we live in and out-do the Democrats at their own game?
And yet conservatives should have legitimate concerns about Trump. Here are the four that keep me up at night.
Concern One: Supreme Court picks. GOP presidents have given us Justices Souter, Kennedy, Roberts and O’Connor and tried to give us Harriet Miers. GOP Senators have rubber-stamped almost all the Leftists rewriting what they call a “living” Constitution. It’s a piss-poor record.
We need to hear a lot more from Trump about his judicial selection philosophy. Not just a shout-out to Scalia or Thomas – we need Trump giving in-depth interviews with conservative thought leaders to hash out his plans and priorities on judicial picks.
We know [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] would fill the federal courts uniformly with unapologetic Constitutional conservatives. Trump (and the rest of the field) must convince us.
Concern Two: Electoral blowback from women and Hispanics. The GOP has been doing much better among single women in recent years. (The GOP has usually fared well among married women.)
The Megyn Kelly debate questions to Trump – like them or hate them – did foretell what would be a daily drumbeat, every day from the Convention to the general election, attacking Donald Trump as anti-woman.
Similarly, Jorge Ramos, George Stephanopoulos and their fellow Media Democrats have made it clear they will try to demonize Trump to drive low-propensity Hispanic voters to the polls next year. Democrats intend to register millions of new Hispanics to vote in 2016. We should take them at their word.
Trump has to demonstrate that he can win women and not hemorrhage Hispanics as he works to run the tables on white voters and carve out 20% of African-Americans. This will be particularly important as the Democrat ticket may have both a woman and a Hispanic on it next year.
Concern Three: Temperament. Sure, I love the persona. In a “nation of wusses” (to quote Democrat Ed Rendell), Trump is a man. But I want him to send a signal to us that he understands the seriousness of the stakes in the world. That he understands the national security threats posed by Iran, ISIS, North Korea and China. That he knows the next president has to lower the temperature on the race-hatred that Obama, Biden, Hillary and the Democrats have been fomenting to drive their base to the polls. That he understands our schools need to improve and our economy needs to grow or we will no longer be the preeminent nation during our children’s lives.
Trump’s outlandish persona has helped make him rich from licensing deals. It makes us cheer at the TV when we see him denounce some Democrat shibboleth that other Republicans swear fealty to. But dark days are ahead if America does not get its act together. Will Trump surround himself with the best people to take on entrenched, malevolent interests at home and abroad?
Concern Four: Liberal track record. Ten years ago, Ann Coulter wrote one of the greatest columns of our lifetimes, denouncing the nomination of John Roberts at a time other conservatives were fawning over his broad shoulders and chiseled jowl. She smelled a rat, declaring it too great a risk to support a Supreme Court nominee without a proven record as one of us.
Trump’s long record supporting liberal policies is even worse than Roberts’ blank slate was. But now Coulter is supporting Trump, no doubt based on her belief that if we don’t get a handle on immigration, we’ll lose on every other policy issue anyway in the coming years. If one were persuaded by that, it would be reason enough to support Trump. Still, with several rock-solid conservatives running this cycle, it’s a scary leap of faith to trust that Trump, a former – and some argue, current – liberal, will deliver conservative policies once elected.
Eight years ago this month, another tough, outspoken, somewhat liberal New Yorker held a big lead in GOP presidential polls. Trump could still crash the way Rudy Giuliani did. But whether he wins or loses the nomination, let’s hope Trump has taught mealy-mouthed Republican politicians a few things about strength, communications and leadership.