Confronting the Malleability of Donald Trump

People didn’t vote for Donald Trump. People voted for their ideal vision of Donald Trump.

Between Election Day and Inauguration Day, we have consistently heard Trump voters explain they voted for Trump despite what he said. Nothing hit me harder than the woman alive thanks to Obamacare who did not believe Donald Trump would repeal Obamacare, despite saying that for 18 months.

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This week, USA Today ran an editorial from a woman who said she voted for Trump and not to defund Planned Parenthood, even though Trump ran on a platform that included defunding Planned Parenthood. It’s mind-boggling, right?

But that was Trump’s secret to success – he was a political outsider without a history. He could say whatever he wanted and it didn't matter because Donald Trump was a cartoon character, propped up by a willing media, running against an actual politician.

Guess what? People tend to like just about any type of person over a career politician. That’s just how it works.

In practice, it gave Trump an out about everything. Look at the Iraq War. We know Hillary was for the war because she was a Senator and her opinion actually mattered. We don’t truly know what Trump thought of the war because he was a D-list New York City celebrity and the only person asking him was Howard Stern.

Did it really matter if Trump was or was not for the War in 2003? There were a thousand more troubling aspects to his campaign than his supposed views on that war.

And that essentially was the problem – all Trump had were views. He didn’t have any positions. Hillary posted thousands upon thousands of words of policy to her website, so the world knew exactly where she stood on every issue.

Trump’s positions changed by the day. Without a track record, none of his words mattered. It became a “Who do you hate less?” contest and Middle America chose the white man over the white woman. It’s annoying to think, in retrospect, that I was surprised.

Starting now, Trump’s ability to be all things to all people stops. He can no longer say that he wants health care for everyone and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He can no longer say that Mexico will pay for the wall without getting Mexico to pay for the wall.

There is plenty of blame to go around for Donald Trump, but the ultimate truth is that he did indeed provide people with hope. The problem is that it was false hope.

His voters superimposed their own thoughts, their own feelings, their own hopes, their own dreams and their own beliefs on the man who promised them change. He didn’t say how, he just said he would. And they believed him.

Now, the façade is slowly being revealed. Carrier workers still lost their jobs. GM factory workers will still lose their jobs. I imagine these people feel what those Trump University students felt when they realized Trump University wasn't a university at all.

This week, Trump “unveiled” his 2020 campaign slogan in a desperate attempt to keep campaigning because that’s what he’s good at. He’s been a master at manipulating the media for attention for the past 30 years. He never goes away.

But a good President needs to go away and do their job. They need to read security briefings. They need to attend Cabinet meetings. They need to make hard decisions based on fact, intelligence and intuition.

It’s sadly poetic that George H.W. Bush has been in the news this week because he provides a window into Trump’s future. The elder Bush was our last one-term President because he made a campaign promise he couldn’t keep.

The phrase “Read my lips” may not sound jarring anymore, but it was the 1988 equivalent of a fire tweet that went viral. I was six at the time and it’s literally my only memory of that campaign as a child.

He couldn’t keep that promise because taxes needed to be raised to fight a recession. He, unfortunately, had lied to the American people and they took it out on him in 1992.

Now, the malleability of Donald Trump ends and the accountability of Donald Trump begins. There is no more gray area. He must begin to make ‘yes or no’ choices that makes his positions abundantly clear. Do you repeal ACA or do you provide health care? Do we pay for the Wall or does Mexico? Does he ban all Muslims or does he not?

People have been waiting and pontificating about Donald Trump’s demise for two years to no avail. It’s not his detractors that will take him down. It will be his supporters, when they find out they’ve been lied to. We all mush keep him accountable for what he said over the past 18 months.

Donald Trump, you do not want to mess with a scorned electorate.

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