The Puzzle of Trump’s Ideology

President Trump recently began negotiating with both political parties in power, causing some conservatives to be skeptical of the President’s new approach. In response to this concern, President Trump stated, “I’m a conservative…I think that if we can do things in a bipartisan manner that would be great…if you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed it was done in a bipartisan manner.” After meeting with Democratic leadership, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, reports say the president and Democrats are close to achieving legislation that would enact DACA into law passed through legislature through the constitutional means that DACA was repealed in favor of promoting. To the chagrin of many of his supporters, he has repeatedly defended DACA saying in tweets, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age.” Similarly, he achieved the necessity of raising the debt ceiling through a striking a deal with Democrats that was tied in with aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. With increased communication and influence from Democrats, he is now attempting to pass tax reform in a bipartisan fashion.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the GOP plans to use reconciliation to pass tax reform–meaning the Senate will only need 51 votes to pass the legislation. If that were the case, the Republicans would only need to vote together to achieve their first major legislative success. Nonetheless, it appears Trump is refusing to leave the bill up to chance, as he did with healthcare. He has been courting Democrats by including aspects of the bill that they would support such as leaving the tax rate for the wealthy as it is, or by even going higher. Trump adds, “If [Republicans are] unable to stick together, then I’m going to get a little help from the Democrats.”

However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin contradicted the President earlier this week by saying many wealthy Americans would receive a tax cut from the plan. Yet, ultimately, the main focus of the bill is to decrease taxes on middle-income Americans and lower corporate taxes to further drive growth in the economy, whilst repatriating money from overseas. The administration has their eye set on a corporate tax rate of 15%, down from 35% but the final aspects of the bill will not be revealed until the plan is released the week of September 25th. Despite the mixed messages, there is no doubt Trump does not want to be embarrassed by again failing to pass major legislation.

President Trump’s recent bipartisan actions have confused many in the public. The New York Times ran an article on September 9th calling Trump the “first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system.” This revelation should not be surprising: Trump was a registered Democrat for years. Similarly, when he pursued the presidency in 2000, he intended to run for the Reform Party, “a home for disenchanted independents,” before dropping the Party after KKK member David Duke joined. Looking at the election, Trump was no doubt elected partly because he was the anti-establishment candidate. Independent voters greatly preferred Trump to the establishment candidate Clinton and proved to be the deciding factor in the election. This outside-the-political-norm moniker was also given to Bernie Sanders who spent most of his time in Congress as an independent.

Conservative Ben Shapiro has attempted to discern where Trump’s loyalty lies and came to the conclusion that Trump has no ideology and is instead a pragmatist, only focused on fixing current issues as they arise with no specific vision for the future. In the end, Trump’s recent actions have demonstrated that he is not going to be loyal to the Republicans if they cannot achieve the goals of his administration. President Trump has undoubtedly upset the balance of the two-party system, and the results of the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections will be a fascinating product of America’s expanding ideological spectrum.


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