Trump Will Never Pivot
Ezra Klein explains that Donald Trump is beloved by the Republican base because he is one of them on vox.com.
It’s become a joke on politics Twitter that Trump’s pivot is always around the corner, that the media can’t stop announcing that this is the moment Trump finally became president. But there will be no pivot. There will be no moment Trump suddenly and permanently grows into the job. Kelly can stanch Trump’s paper flow all he wants: Trump can still read Twitter, and click over to Breitbart, and watch Fox & Friends, and he does all those things.
What confuses the media about Trump is that he defies Washington’s categories. It’s true that he’s not a typical elected Republican, and that he feels little love for the GOP’s congressional leadership. But that doesn’t make him an independent. That makes him a very typical base Republican. He’s the kind of Republican who hangs out in the Breitbart comments section, who listens to Sean Hannity on the radio — not the type of Republican who donates to fundraisers for Paul Ryan.
If Trump’s policy preferences sometimes come out scrambled or inconsistent, well, that’s how most people’s policy preferences come out. If there are plenty of Republican elected officials he doesn’t like, well, that’s also true for most Republican voters. If he appears more enthusiastic about abstract border security than about deporting actual DREAMers, well, that’s what most people’s immigration preferences look like. But Trump’s tribal loyalties are fierce, his worldview is shaped by conservative media, and he never forgets who his true allies are.
This has always been Trump’s secret advantage. His connection with the GOP base runs so deep because he authentically is a member of the GOP base — he’s just the rare base Republican who had the money, celebrity, and media skills to successfully run for president despite never having held elected office.
And Trump continues to be that guy. For all his frustrations with elected Republicans, and for all Kelly’s efforts to bury him in professionalized “decision memos,” Trump still gets his news from Fox News and Breitbart and his own Twitter followers. He still hears about how Obamacare is failing and Democrats are conspiring. Like many voters, Trump often seems less motivated by love of his party than by fear and loathing of the other party. Negative partisanship is the tie that binds. It’s why Trump always comes back to his core politics: He may not love Republicans, but his worldview, and his information sources, is built around fighting Democrats.
Trump has been in the presidency for nine months now, and if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that he is who he has always shown himself to be. He’s not changing.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center