Just what kind of political animal is Donald Trump? Stay inside the political bubble and he will perplex you. Think outside and it becomes clear.
Ignore the cries of ‘He’s a fascist’ from people who couldn’t define fascist even if Mussolini explained it to them. But how can we categorise Trump? He has no coherent political ideology and no party loyalty. A New York Democrat and financial supporter of the Clintons, he became a Republican to capture the presidency; few consider him a genuine Republican and many fear his politics will destroy the GOP.
Things become clear only when we look at his actions. Whether it is to retain his base or from deeply held conviction, it is clear that at heart Trump is radically anti-progressive. The Trump supporters who most relish the wars he is waging on their behalf are the conservative radicals of Middle America.
He is not only willing to take on the institutions beloved of and feared by mainstream conservatives, he relishes the fight. Trump intuitively recognises what conservative voters recognise, that the institutions of state and culture have been taken over by progressives and turned against them.
Trump’s response to this week’s Florida school shooting unleashed a predictable outburst. He didn’t mention the media’s favourite talking point – gun control. Instead, he spoke of the need for action on mental health. Following each shooting, the Left forces conservatives to defend guns. Perhaps there should be a pushback forcing the Left to defend the right of the seriously mentally ill to refuse their medication.
After each mass shooting psychiatrists rush to television studios to assure us the accused was legally insane and not responsible for his actions. Instead of being wise after the event perhaps preventative action would be more intelligent.
A minute percentage of the mentally ill are mass shooters, but an overwhelming percentage of mass shooters are mentally ill. When the common denominator amongst perpetrators is a characteristic found in a tiny percentage of the population Trump reckons we should focus on that.
In the months to come will we find the conversation changing and mainstream conservatives following Trump’s lead? Perhaps Trump, by going where others fear to tread, will be proven to have taken the right course of action once again.
Trump the radical outsider has declared war on those who have captured American society. Whether it is the FBI, the National Football League or the ‘impartial’ media, Trump is prepared to smite them hip and thigh.
Before Trump, the FBI was revered by conservatives. But Trump saw the existence of a group at the top of the organisation determined to undermine, even impeach him. Instead of trying to placate them he went for them. Now the FBI is under scrutiny like never before and no longer gets an automatic pass from conservatives.
Such was the loyalty of football fans that two years ago no politician would dare criticise the NFL. Football was more than a game, it was an American institution. Then players started kneeling – ‘taking the knee’ – during the national anthem as part of a protest movement against police brutality. Mainstream conservative politicians may have been disgusted, but for the most part they were silent.
Trump was assured by many that taking on the NFL was a sure-fire loser. Trump ignored their advice, he knew what he was doing and what an increasing number of Americans wanted. He blasted the players for their disrespect and called for a boycott of teams where players knelt for the national anthem.
People listened to Trump, attendance dropped, television audiences plummeted. Last year, the average NFL game drew just 64,698 fans, the lowest since 1998. Although the NFL claims falling attendance is not a consequence of kneeling some teams are willing to admit to reality. At the last game of the season, the Super Bowl, no player knelt for the national anthem.
Like the progressives who have captured the institutions of the West Trump does not play by the rules. He goes out of his way to pick fights with those previously sacrosanct institutions captured by progressives.
This is in part because they have already declared war on him. Rather than try to placate them, as so many conservatives do, he fights back. It is also in part because billionaire Trump has a better intuitive understanding of how ordinary Americans think than the insider political pundits. Trump is crass and inaccurate and too often shoots from the hip; but it’s percolating through that usually his targets are the right ones. Slowly Trump’s anti-progressive stance is beginning to reach out beyond his base. Middle America instinctively understands where he stands and where he is going, and approves.
He has declared war on ‘fake news’. Ordinary conservatives have been pointing out the prejudices of the mainstream media in the USA for years, yet conservative politicians for the most part kept their heads below the parapet.
Trump hit back. The media went into meltdown. The tenor of their complaint concerning Trump and fake news can be summed up: ‘It all started when the other guy fought back’.
Despite constant assertions that Trump is a danger to a free press it is clear that he does not attack the concept of a free press. Rather he goes after a press which is no longer free, one which has a systemic bias against conservative ideas and people because it is largely dominated by progressives and their ideology.
People are beginning to listen to Trump through the miasma of mainstream accusations and allegations. His approval ratings are rising, and are higher than Obama’s at this stage. Following a strong State of the Union address, which was trashed by the mainstream media, Trump’s approval figures have shot up.
We can count on the anti-Trump resistance growing in virulence as progressives begin to grasp the possibility that they might not be the inevitable winners. History is not linear, progressing in only one direction, neither does it have a ‘right side’, as Obama claimed.
Trump is demonstrating that it is possible not just to fight back, but to win. Just don’t expect establishment politicians to do it for you.