Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Election Watch: Trump’s Dubious Conservatism

Attempting to change his spots. (Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore)

Like all traditional followers of politics, I am baffled by the Trump phenomenon. The Donald has broken every rule of political etiquette, yet the polls have done nothing but reward him. From his crude criticism of John McCain’s military service to his mocking a disabled New York Times reporter, Trump has committed more “gaffes” than any serious candidate in recent memory. Yet, if I were forced to bet on whom would be the Republican nominee come July, I would bet on Trump.

Even though the traditional pundits declared him politically dead dozens of times over the past six months, Trump continues to thrive. He has used his talents as a reality television star to dominate broadcast and social media, barraging every candidate that stands in his way with sophomoric insults. Whether it was Bush, Cruz, or Carson, Trump has forced his way to the top of the polls and “whack-a-moled” every other candidate that dared pop his head up.

Almost more impressive than his media domination has been the coalition to which Donald Trump is currently appealing. According to certain polls, over half of Trump’s supporters are women, half between 45 and 65 years old. Over half of his supporters have high school diplomas, but less than 20 percent have earned college degrees. This is not a normal coalition of voters for either party, let alone for the “conservative” frontrunner.

Which begs the question: Are Trump’s supporters conservative at all? Looking at Trump’s political history, the answer to this question is clearly, No. Over the years, Trump’s politics have proven him to be a go-along to get-along liberal businessman.

Before five years ago, the majority of Donald Trump’s campaign contributions went to Democrats. In fact, Trump has often bragged about his relationships with top Democratic politicians. In the heat of the 2012 election, Trump acknowledged that he has known the Clintons “for years” and thinks, “[Hillary] is a terrific woman.”

Just this past week, Trump boasted about his relationship with the congressional democrat leadership, saying “ I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi” and that he was “close to [Senator Chuck Schumer]…in many ways.” While these relationships may have helped him in the business world, they ought to discredit him while he is running for the Republican nomination.

Furthermore, he has advocated for many liberal positions in the past and present. Until 2011, Donald Trump was proudly pro-choice, then said he changed his mind on the issue due to personal stories. This move is not necessarily an implausible flip-flop, considering this is exactly the kind of change of heart that the pro-life movement wants and needs. Nevertheless, his “evolution” deserves to be taken with a grain of salt considering his variable position on the funding of Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, he publicly praised the single-payer healthcare systems of Scotland and Canada at one of the debates, then later argued that the United States should adopt a “market-based” universal healthcare policy. Trump also uses leftist rhetoric to attack Wall Street and other wealthy individuals. Even on immigration, the issue that endeared him to the Republican electorate, he calls for Mexico to pay for a wall on the southern border and the deportation of all illegal immigrants in the country, while still supporting a roundabout version of amnesty by allowing most of the deported illegal immigrants back in legally once they return to their home country.

Even those who do not support him concede that Trump is taking on the entire political system and beating it thoroughly right now. The Republican “establishment” or special interests cannot coerce him, and he is entertaining to watch when insulting his competitors. None of these are completely illegitimate reasons to support him.

Yet Donald Trump’s entire political history calls for Republican voters to be skeptical of this one-time liberal billionaire. The past few years, Trump has shifted his public views and associations radically enough to undermine his claim to principled conservatism.

— Connor Kitchings is Managing Editor of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE

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