As noted earlier at LU, Donald Trump announced his aspiration to the presidency today. To get the negatives out of the way right up front: he is an egotistical narcissist. He is also highly successful, despite some difficulties along the way which will, no doubt, get a lot of attention. His speaking style is all his own: a sprinkling of specifics and an overused “…everything” expression.
The problems for Republicans, most especially establishment Republicans, are threefold. His positions are, for the most part, unabashedly conservative. He owes no political allegiance to anyone, and he doesn’t need anyone else’s money. He can and will say anything about anyone. There is also the potential for some significant entertainment value with Trump on the stump – and we’re going to need some of that before this is all over.
- A pass through the scattered, frequently off-the-top-of-his-head announcement speech reveals that his policy positions were very clear.
- Repeal and replace Obama-Care.
- Attack the Islamic State.
- Physically secure the Southern border.
- Stop the Iranian nuclear program.
- Eliminate the Obama executive orders related to immigration.
- Support the 2nd Amendment.
- End Common Core and return education to local control.
- Rebuild infrastructure.
- Save entitlements by stimulating the economy; no cuts.
- Bring American jobs back to America.
- Rebuild the manufacturing economy.
- Re-negotiate trade deals.
- Expand the military and find the next General Patton to lead it.
- Defend Israel.
Beyond these positions, he gave voice to things that many, on both sides of the aisle, can agree to, such as that the government is overpopulated with incompetence and corruption. He spoke of the “true” unemployment rate, 18% – 20% based on workforce participation. He spoke of the self-image that goes with having a good job. He was unabashed in discussing his own wealth and success, and refused to run away from that success. Trump argues that is exactly what American needs: successes. And he has a point, one clearly directed at those who sense malaise.
Trump castigated politicians controlled by lobbyists, donors, and special interests, while admitting he has his own cadre of lobbyists. Is there anyone who can effectively dispute the point that special interests of all stripes have motivated and supported political corruption?
Trump has some blind spots, arguing that he will inflict a tariff on American companies moving jobs overseas. That’s not something he can do unilaterally. A successful “do it my way” guy will have to deal with both Congress and a court system that may not allow him to do it his way. Employees are one thing; self-interested politicians are quite another.
It remains unlikely but not impossible that Trump will catch on in a way that has him there at the end of the primary process. The questions revolve around how people respond to straight talk, and how successfully Trump connects with the general dissatisfaction in the electorate. One pundit’s first impression was that Trump needed a speechwriter, but I think not. Trump, regardless of the odds, needs to be himself; it’s a significant part of whatever appeal he may enjoy.
Trump on the stump: it’s going to be fun, one way or another.