The Quest For The Serious Side of Donald Trump Begins
Earlier this week, in response to an article by Peregrin Wood pointing out that Donald Trump’s web site is devoid of policy, and almost completely barren of any content other than Donald Trump’s praise for himself, one of our readers asked if we could please try to dig deeper, to discover and discuss Donald Trump’s policy ideas.
This request represents a worthwhile pursuit, helping voters make an informed choice in the 2016 presidential election, so starting today, I’m taking up the challenge. I’m going on a quest for the serious side of Donald Trump, the side that has specific ideas about how to, as Trump’s baseball cap says, “Make America Great Again”.
I thought I’d start with the most recent press conference the Donald Trump for President campaign has staged. Here, I thought, is an event at which Donald Trump was directly questioned by journalists. Surely, there would be some meaty policy discussion involved. I watched the full video of the event, provided by C-Span…
… and I didn’t find much. Trump started out with more of the racism that has become his campaign’s hallmark, explaining that he is confident that he will have the support of large numbers of Hispanic voters because he owns large numbers of them himself. “I have thousands of Mexicans and Hispanics,” he said. “Over the years, thousands and thousands of Hispanics have worked for me.”
The press tried a few times go get Trump to move beyond his vague assertions that “something” has to be done at the border shared between the U.S. and Mexico, but Trump brushed off their questions over and over again. “The first thing we have to do is strengthen our borders, and after that, we’ll have plenty of time to talk,”
Strengthening borders is a goal, but it’s not a policy itself. Journalists pressed for more details. When asked by a reporter, “What would you actually do?” Trump responded, “You have to create, you have to make the people who come in actually legal. You have to let people do their job, the Border Patrol, the patrols, which by the way, I see the unions are very much involved with the patrols, but you have to let them do their job.”
So, we hear that Donald Trump wants to “make” people who cross borders into the United States “legal”. Does that mean that he wants to provide legal amnesty for all the people who have crossed American borders, so that they won’t be treated as criminals under American immigration laws?
Trump didn’t say.
Donald Trump said that Border Patrol workers should be allowed to do their jobs. What he didn’t explain is what exists in the present situation that prevents Border Patrol workers from being able to do their jobs. What aspects of their jobs are Border Patrol agents not allowed to complete? Are there tasks that Donald Trump would have them do that are not currently part of their job descriptions? Trump didn’t offer details.
When a reporter asked, “Are you in favor of a wall?” Trump responded that, “In certain sections you have to have a wall, absolutely. The wall will save you a tremendous amount of money, but you absolutely, there are areas where you have to have the wall.” What Trump apparently doesn’t understand was that there have been areas of the U.S. border with Mexico that are blocked off with walls for decades. Here’s a photograph of one such wall. Donald Trump’s one specific idea of a border policy – for there to be walls on the border in some places – is for things to stay exactly as they already are.
Finally, when asked if he had any ideas about how to deal with the escape of El Chapo, infamous the Mexican drug cartel leader whose escape from prison made international headlines 12 days before Trump’s news conference in Laredo, Trump merely said, “I know nothing about it.” Not only does Donald Trump have zero policy ideas for how to deal with drug cartels like the one led by El Chapo, he also doesn’t even have the most basic knowledge of what’s happening with those cartels.
This press conference shows the same image of Donald Trump that’s presented through his campaign web site: A candidate who mostly likes to talk about himself, who is unable to offer any policy ideas of substance. To the extent that Republican voters are supporting Donald Trump, it’s because they like his style. So far, my quest for substance behind Trump’s egotistical displays has found nothing there.
I’m not giving up the quest already, of course. Tomorrow, we’ll look at another Trump appearance, and see if there’s any policy substance to be found there.