On Tuesday night, Senator Ted Cruz suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, effectively ending the race and making Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. Kasich’s official withdrawal the next day was the only remaining formality and it came and went in an excruciatingly long, weird, and ultimately pointless way, as befit his entire campaign.
The very next day after that, the Trump Betrayal began. Like every project Trump boasts about, this one promises to be yuge and garish and, though he usually doesn’t mention this part, a total cluster.
In a period of less than 48 hours, Trump reversed himself in four spectacular betrayals that tell you volumes about what to expect. First, at around 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, literally minutes after Kasich’s speech, CNN aired Trump telling Wolf Blitzer that he had changed his mind and is now open to raising the minimum wage.
Next, just a couple of hours later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump would not be self-funding his campaign anymore. You know, the thing he bragged about every day forever, including just a day before in Indiana. Done.
Then on Thursday morning at about 8:00 a.m., CNBC released video of an interview with Trump essentially renouncing his own tax plan.
And finally, later that same morning, it was revealed that the man picked to head up fundraising for his no longer self-funded campaign, Steve Mnuchin, is a former Goldman Sachs partner, serious Hillary donor, and most unbelievably, a former George Soros bigwig. Seriously.
That’s just a few hours past one full day since Cruz dropped out. Four betrayals. Less than two days. Unreal.
Now, make no mistake, each of these are major reversals, and what’s more, they are entirely revealing. Take the minimum wage increase. Trump’s most rabid base is mad about job losses, about low incomes, and are invested in class warfare. But they are also bitter about race relations and the perceived unfair advantages given to minority groups. They hate talk of minimum wage increases when Democrats do it, because they see it as some sort of affirmative action, but when presented by Trump as a way of increasing income to them they’re willing to swallow the pill.
He was softening the target. He got them to agree to a betrayal of their own prior convictions. It’s like a sales technique. Get them to say yes to something small and they’ll keep saying yes to bigger and bigger things. “Come on, high interest doesn’t really matter, what matters is your monthly payment.” Get them to betray themselves.
Or how about the tax plan? Again, he pitches it as something his base will swallow: forget tax cuts for the wealthy, I want to help you. Of course, it is a complete reversal of how he pitched it in the first place. The argument he made for his tax plan was that as it stood it would help every American. That’s what he said and that’s what his base not only believed, but what they proselytized to others. Trump’s tax plan is genius! Look at all these people who endorse it! They wrote articles and sent Tweets and made Facebook posts about how great and wonderful and smart and well-received his tax plan was.
But now? Now it’s unfair to the little guy and helps out the rich too much. Trump knows his base will swallow that one too, if he makes it sound populist enough. They already said yes to the minimum wage increase, after all. A little further this time. A little more. Another yes.
Of course, the really big one is that he won’t self-fund. Now, Trump people are already trying to spin that one, saying he never intended to self-fund the general, that he can’t possibly be expected to front that kind of money, but that’s all a huge load of crap. Trump’s voters heard what he told them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. They heard and believed and repeated ad nauseum that his self-funding was his biggest asset because it put him outside the system. It made him his own man. What’s more, those who were taking money from outside sources were considered to be owned by those sources. Trump explicitly stated time and again that his opponents were beholden to those who funded them. That they were owned and that he wasn’t. The reason he wasn’t owned was that he wasn’t taking the money.
That’s a huge principle. A minor detail like “I never said the general election” is just Clintonesque, “what the definition of is is” parsing. It’s hogwash. He established relentlessly and without pause that self-funding makes you independent and pure, and that not self-funding makes you impure, owned, and a puppet of outside interest. Now he is saying he’s going to take that money. He’s agreeing to become owned.
And it’s worse than just a vague notion of fundraising. He put together a sophisticated operation to get big, big money from big, big donors. Remember how he went on and on and on demonizing Goldman-Sachs? It’s a favorite target of Trump’s base and the Occupy Wall Street crowd (with whom Trump’s base has a surprising amount of ideological crossover … or not so surprising). Well his finance chair was a partner at that evil firm. The one that his Twitter acolytes use as shorthand for “dirty Jew money.” That is who he hired.
And not just that. Mnuchin donated to Hillary Clinton many, many times. Even better, he was himself backed by billionaire and real life Dr. Evil, the Hillary-backing left-wing kingpin George Soros. Mnuchin is connected left and right. But mostly left. He’s got his fingers in Hollywood, in Wall Street, in progressive politics, and Democrat campaigns. And now he’s raising money for Trump from, one assumes, his big fat rolodex of lefties who, according to Trump’s own and endlessly repeated statements, will own and manipulate Trump because he will owe it to them. A return on their investment. That’s what he said about his opponents.
All of this happened in two days. And if you look at the big picture there are two obvious themes. First, he is now tacking left and second, he is taking money by way of a creature of the left.
Which should all fit nicely, by the way, with his Democrat running mate. Oh yeah, that’s a thing now too, guys.
Each betrayal on its own is something his followers are not only willing to defend, but are actively selling as good or reasonable things. Like they abandoned their long war against Social Justice Warriors immediately the moment that Trump told them that men in women’s bathrooms was super great, they are willing to abandon their opposition to government wage-control, their months long commitment to the genius of his tax plan, and their hatred of candidates who don’t self-fund. They’re even letting him slide on Goldman.
But taken all together … well it’s not pretty. He has immediately destroyed his every core principle that isn’t related to immigration. Because that’s the big one, and he will betray his voters on it. But he has to work up to it. It’s called softening the target. It’s what salesmen do.
And man, did you Trumpers get sold.