Published August 24, 2016
Over the past year I have watched the Donald Trump for President phenomenon with keen interest. My attraction mostly had to do with Trump’s focus on immigration, his claims that it is at the root of so many of our society’s problems, and how he has the answers to these problems. No less interesting to me is the wave of popularity Trump has ridden, despite asserting extreme or disparaging generalizations regarding Mexicans, Muslims, women and others. And yes, eventually there were the public mockings of a disabled person and the parents of a fallen war hero. The list goes on and on. I have tried to understand how Donald Trump has gotten so popular, even after blatantly flip flopping on supposedly unshakable stances on core issues and otherwise, just being a bully to anyone he does not like. These days, with our presidential election less than 3 months away, I especially wonder whether Donald Trump ever means what he says.
On immigration, it started with headline grabbing pronouncements about building a wall along the entire U.S./Mexico border and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. The problem of having 12 million undocumented individuals in our country is a real one indeed and the ideas of deporting all of them and building a wall have had an attractive tone to a good number of Americans. Such remedies were especially well received after Trump misleadingly declared that it was the rapist/drug dealer demographic that is representative of the large Mexican undocumented population in the U.S.
Trump’s “deport them all” stance has been anything but subtle. But now, that’s apparently all changed. Now after securing the Republican nomination for president, Trump appears to be “softening” his tone, and is returning to a message where he would focus on increasing border presence, and of only deporting the “bad ones” among us and allowing the “good people” to remain. In other words, his immigration stance has evolved to one that is essentially identical to Hillary Clinton’s, Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s.
For a guy who attempts to package himself as a strong, blunt leader with unequivocal and unwavering positions, Trump seems to be engaging in the same political flip flopping he so strongly condemns in others. These flip flops, to be sure, are on core positions which were so central to his appeal. So, like most of the realistic politicians around him who have spoken on the issue, Trump has come to terms with the fact that initiating removal proceedings and trying to deport 11 million individuals, while doable in theory, makes almost no practical sense. So in posturing to secure the Republican nomination for President – NO, Donald Trump did not mean what he said when hollering his stance on immigration.
As to how and why Donald Trump has remained so popular despite being consistently inconsistent and uninformed on so many big issues, and even worse, by being a mean spirited bully, the answers have less to do with him than they do with his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Hillary is seen by so many in our country as a liar of the worst order and unworthy of our trust. To them, she is so bad that it would be better to vote for a flip flopping, uninformed bully. Make that, they would rather vote for anyone other than Hillary. As to Hillary, I am not sure she is more of a liar than most other successful politicians in recent history. For certain though, her stances on important issues of policy have remained largely consistent and her temperament is more in line with that of a dignified, reasonable individual. And no, I am not a cheerleader for only Democrats, and yes, I have voted for both Democrat and Republican candidates in previous elections.
True or False: Donald Trump wants to be President. This is one I have wondered about from the beginning. My sense is that he could never have imagined the immense jackpot of popularity his campaign has generated. Like Chauncey Gardner (Peter Sellers’ kind-hearted, simpleton character from the movie “Being There”) Trump has found himself accidentally looked to for wisdom and at the center of more people’s attention than he could ever have imagined. Unlike Chauncey Gardner though, Trump is undignified, although his misleading or uninformed pronouncements, have an audience, a big audience, an angry audience. Combine that with Trump’s extraordinary knack for marketing, and the huge anti-Hillary sentiment in our society, we have a bona fide candidate in Trump.
The stars have lined up indeed. The question is whether Trump really wants to burden himself with the day to day, humdrum and difficult responsibilities of running a country, or is he mainly looking to monetize his popularity and further build his “brand”. More and more, it’s looking like the latter.
PUBLISHED August 24, 2016– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2016, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois