Why Trump's Position Changes Matter

| by Nicholas Roberts
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald TrumpRepublican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump

Donald Trump is the de facto Republican presidential nominee, unless something truly stunning happens at the Republican convention in July.  As with all presidential nominees, Trump is now trying to attempt to "tack to the center" to get the crucial votes from moderates and citizens in swing states.

He is not good at it, because he isn't fooling anyone.  He has recently reneged on one of his most controversial issues -- a temporary "ban on Muslims" from foreign countries entering the U.S. -- which quite literally goes against his self-cultivated political image as a man of action in a country governed by "idiots" and "weaklings."

Since he announced his candidacy in June 2015, Trump has changed his positions on a number of issues several times -- some examples here are his comments on abortion, the minimum wage and how to handle the national debt.  

Trump does an accelerated version of the traditional political "flip-flop," in which a candidate changes his or her position on a hot-button issue due to public pressure. On the minimum wage, for example, first Trump was just against an increase, then he was against any federal minimum wage, then he was suddenly open to an increase, but not to $15, as politicians like Democratic rivals Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have advocated.

Politicians who "flip-flop" are typically seen by themselves as engaging in a compromise with the other side, but risk losing support of their base for "selling out" on important issues.  It is not unreasonable to think that Trump, a man with no governing experience, might be the ultimate "flip-flopper" if elected president as he would scramble to make compromises with a political establishment he has spent almost an entire year mocking and demonizing.

As Vox's Dana Lind explains, Trump's backpedaling on his proposed Muslim ban -- now calling it a "suggestion" rather than a formal policy proposal -- proves he cannot be trusted to stay true to what appeared to be a genuine conviction, however horrifying.  The only other two portions of his platform which he has not gone back on -- yet -- are his advocacy of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and his opposition to "horrible trade deals" like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But on other issues, in which the candidate supposedly differed from the Republican Party, he is moving ever closer.  During the primaries, he painted his Republican rivals as out-of-touch elitists who wanted to "do a number" on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare which largely benefit the middle class.

As of May 11, it seems that he has flip-flopped on that issue as well: his policy adviser Sam Clovis told a group at a Washington conference that a Trump administration would take a "hard look" at these programs once in place. He also said that Trump's economic policies would spur growth and a surplus between $4.5 and $7 trillion by 2027, according to Reuters.

These types of news releases show that candidate Trump is an enigma and there is little telling of which policies he would pursue as absolute priorities once in office. Like all politicians, he is attempting to be all things to all people. Unlike other politicians, his brash and utterly uncompromising public behavior has helped him maintain the support of his base, even as he is beginning to discard some of his more populist proposals.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Vox, Reuters / Photo credit: Disney-ABC Television Group/Flickr

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