Making political predictions this year is a losing game, and if analysts were betting money, they would all be broke. One thing has remained true this year, though: In American politics, anything is possible — so be prepared. Those possibilities include businessman Donald Trump being elected the next president of the United States.
One thing has remained constant among Democrats as well: their wish for Trump to become the Republican nominee.
Even according to most Republicans, there is no way Trump would ever win a general election.
I cannot say I have disagreed with them — until now.
If the insanity that has been this cycle is any indicator, Trump could win a general election. He has far more appeal than anyone would like to admit, except perhaps him.
Trump’s explosive rise to the top of Republican primary polling last summer, his historic stability at the top of those polls and his victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada have utterly shocked much of the country.
Trump’s ability to change his positions every three weeks without appearing inconsistent is precisely his strength. He takes something on which he has changed his opinion, such as a single-payer insurance program, LGBTQ rights or pro-choice issues, and shifts them to his advantage.
He could easily use that ability to change positions simply to appeal to a broader voting base because many of his current supporters have little preference for policy.
You could easily paint him as a liberal, as many of his competitors have tried to do, but you would fail because no one cares about consistency anymore. They care about personality.
The United States has always had a tough persona. A large bloc of the country wants a president who matches that persona. They want Trump because his main strength is his strength. If Trump wins his party’s nomination, many blue-dog Democrats will look past Trump’s nativism and political incorrectness.
Trump will appeal to many progressive voters who despise international free-trade agreements, which they believe cause jobs to be shipped overseas. In his initial tax plan, he intended to raise taxes on those rich like him, something with which many progressives would agree.
His ability to shift positions and win over swaths of the voting populace will make him a far more dangerous challenger for the Democratic nominee. He will be able to position himself as a moderate on policy once he wins the nomination, simply because of his ability to shift.
He’s able to appeal to people who believe the government is corrupted by big business and twisted politicians.
Trump appeals to people who want the government changed so it doesn’t benefit millionaires and billionaires — he constantly talks about how the government helps the powerful.
But he also appeals to people who don’t want to tax the rich, people who believe in the idea of American entrepreneurial strength and people who see the government as working against the average citizen’s best interests.
He’s the perceived billionaire capitalist savior riding in on a white horse to save the country from statesmen who make lousy deals, bureaucrats who make shoddy decisions and politicians who lie about back-room agreements and email servers, or so his followers believe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying today’s Trump will win the 270 electoral delegates he will need to become president, but tomorrow’s might.
Chip can be reached at community@ThePlainsman.com