(Editor’s note: The following was written by columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson last December.)
There’s no shortage of chatter about Republican presidential contender Donald Trump campaigning. But almost nothing has been said about how a “President” Trump would actually govern.
While there’s no consensus that he can win the GOP nomination, let alone the White House, there is a consensus that he has a real shot at being a real threat to win the GOP nomination and make a real run for the White House. It’s based on these very real facts.
Since he officially declared for the presidency last June, except for one brief moment, he’s consistently gapped every other GOP contender in poll ratings; no expected implosion has happened.
He has fired up a big swatch of the GOP base, conservatives and white evangelicals, but more ominously he’s stirred passion and zealotry among millions of disaffected, alienated white blue collar workers. He’s been a rating’s and a cash cow bonanza for much of the media and a sound bite dream machine for newsrooms.
They will continue to play up every Trump quip, dig and inanity big. That will further cement his name, reputation and even appeal to millions.
Despite predictions that his backers will resoundingly shut down on him when they get in the voting booth in the primaries, there a good likelihood many won’t. The GOP presidential nominee needs 50 percent plus one of the 2,470 delegates to bag the nomination.
Party leaders gloat and nervously plot that Trump will crash and burn long before he gets anywhere close to that number. Maybe, but 11 states have winner-take-all primaries, 10 states assign delegates proportionally, and 17 states use a caucus and convention to hand pick delegates.
With only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio flirting with double-digit poll support, it’s no stretch to see Trump netting hundreds of committed delegates from more than a handful of states. Though Trump has seemingly warred with the GOP establishment, the fight has been mostly over his style, personality, and comportment, but not on the key issues from abortion and Planned Parenthood to the economy and foreign policy. Take Trump’s rough edge off his bluster about these issues, and his stance on them is mostly in line with the party’s on those issues with some curious exceptions.
So the question that once seemed absolutely ludicrous to think let alone ask is now a question that can be seriously asked and even to an extent answered. Just how would Trump govern?
There’s little reason to think Trump is suited to patient, give-and-take negotiation and compromise to get his initiatives through Congress. His style is to bellow, bully and harangue to get his way.
As for the issues, Trump has been on the political scene long enough to have enough of a paper trail to piece together from his statements in debates and interviews and speeches a fairly accurate picture of what he will say and do on the big-ticket issues. Those issues are the budget, government spending, civil rights enforcement, the environment, crime control, the military and foreign policy.
He’ll be totally hand’s off Wall Street and the banks on regulatory matters, slash corporate taxes to “0” percent, impose no cap and tax on big oil, and radically slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. But he’ll also cut funding for the Defense Department.
On civil rights and civil liberties, he accepts the Supreme Court decision in support of gay marriage, says he’s “fine” with affirmative action, and will enforce the laws on hate crimes. He’s disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement, but did acknowledge that black lives do matter.
He’ll let states decide what they will do about medical marijuana, legalizing marijuana, and the drug laws.
On the one hand, he derides climate change as a “hoax” but on the other hand acknowledges that there may be some need to take some action.
He repeats the GOP party line that the Affordable Care Act is a “disaster.” So, he will, of course, try to repeal and replace Obamacare.
He reminds all that he opposed the Iraq War, but will put boots on the ground against ISIS and take a hardline confrontational stance in confronting North Korea and Iran on their nuclear capacity.
On the signature issues that got him and gets him raves from millions, he’ll do everything to further erode labor unions, flatly oppose any minimum wage increase, try to wall off the borders, and crack down on Muslims coming and going in the country.
Trump hasn’t as of yet laid down a specific blueprint for how he’ll work with congressional Democrats or even congressional Republicans, let alone foreign leaders, if elected, but there’s really no need to do that at this point. It would actually hamstring his free-wheeling, shoot-from-the-lip approach to campaigning.
If anything, the absence of such a blueprint adds to his take-no-prisoners, tough-talking, rip the establishment, allure.
As for Trump’s hyped up, disgruntled, vengeful backers, they see all of this as the prescription for a new type of White House — and better still, a change in the substance and style of governance.
That would be nothing short of a monumental disaster and turn Washington into a laughingstock. But in a political season of wide voter rage and discontent, to many how Trump will actually govern is less important than that he will govern.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.