IMHO, there isn’t that much public outrage over Trump’s policies - that is, from moderates/centrists - it’s more the packaging that causes the outrage than the product. The packaging is Trump himself - someone who tweets dozens of childish-sounding, petulant Tweets per day, comes from an outrageous reality-TV background, etc.
Suppose that a sane, calm, dignified Republican president were endorsing every single one of Trump’s policies - building the wall, caging kids, trade war, appointing right-wing judges to the courts - but did so without a single Tweet, spoke and wrote with a lot of gravitas, released all his tax returns, had no skeletons in his closet, etc. - I think such a president would have approval ratings well upwards of 50% and, in fact, be coasting towards an easy reelection victory right now. He would be considered “acceptable” by most of America - not Dopers, and not to many Democrats, but he would certainly be considered more palatable than Trump, despite espousing all of Trump’s policies to the letter.
Here on the Dope, people object to both Trump’s persona and his policies - but IMHO, much of America, and many swing voters, wouldn’t mind Trumpism if it were a different, more dignified person preaching them instead. What say ye?
I think a lot of his base where apolitical before finding Trump. They like that he’s a loud mouth asshole. So, a ‘regular’ Trump may not lose those people, but he won’t be inspiring them to go to the polls either.
In general, I agree with this. There is a percentage of the voting populace who responds positively to someone who exhibits a sober dignified demeanor, regardless of policy, and respond negatively to the opposite.
Regarding the “what”, the policy priorities, I would expect any President to prioritize trade, immigration, tax policy, and international conflicts. The principle of protectionism that seem to drive Trump is in the spectrum of legitimate policy choices that one can debate.
The top level “how” Trump is addressing these priorities is also worthy of serious debate (a wall for immigration, tariffs as a lever in trade negotiations, tax cuts to the top earners, etc.)
However, with Trump, the built-in nonsense chaos tornado prevents these types of serious debates. Which I believe is unintentional, but provides cover for those who don’t really want to have a serious debate on merits.
I think if he acted “presidential”, he would indeed be more popular. Gravitas and the economy (until very recently) would probably get him the election. It is important to note that his policies are actually hurting people, however, and there would be significant room to challenge him. Chipping away at the ACA, for example, has impacted his base. In the absence of his current demeanor, there would be more room in public discourse for the substance of his presidency.
But the Tweeting is a very astute political strategy.
It bypasses the media and insures that his message, his response, gets out there without going through the filter of the system. This has aggravated the media to no end, but it works for him. The White House press corps has been marginalized and no longer control the message of the day.
This is not an accident or action of a stupid person, it will become the new future standard. You are more in control of the message that way.
Personally, I don’t care about the majority of Trump’s tweets (except the ones where he gaslights the idea of becoming President for Life) or that he’s crass.
High level policies like “Illegal immigration is illegal. Let’s actually do that.” I’m fine with. Locking kids in cages, morality aside, is stupid. A competent President wouldn’t do it as part of an anti-illegal immigration agenda, so it’s moot to talk about it being a policy point of someone more acceptable than Trump. A polite and quiet incompetent who ruins everything he touches still is still going to be hated.
At a high level, Trumps policies are fine. Many of them are, in essence, the same policy that Obama had: Taking on China, reducing illegal immigration, etc. Trump’s version stands out not because it’s evil so much as that it’s undertaken in moronic fashion that does more harm than good. That these measures also contain evil is just icing on the cake.
Here’s the thing about policies. How you go about them is just as important as what the goals are. It’s entirely possible to have a desirable goal, but go about “achieving it” in such a ham-handed manner that it destroys any positive gains you get from having a desirable goal in the first place.
The best real-world example of this is Trump’s approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. I’ve supported closer engagement with NK for years, because I think this is ultimately the only way we can reduce the risks of NK’s nukes. But the way Trump has gone about engaging NK is mind-numbingly stupid. A more rational President, going about this in a more rational way, would most likely have my complete support. But Trump? Fuck that guy, I want him to shut up, because he’s just making things worse, even though the ultimate goal of deescalating the NK situtation is a good idea.
The OP’s thought experiment is something I’ve considered before, and I think this is the correct answer. Much of Trump’s base LOVES that he’s a blustering d-bag with no filter. If he didn’t behave like that, he wouldn’t have had a reality TV career to use as a springboard into politics, and he wouldn’t have been elected. He’d just be another rich political dilettante like Bloomberg and Steyer.
What if Trump had become dignified and “presidential” after taking office, as many of his GOP enablers hoped he would? That’s a more difficult question. The party would still love him, because they love all their Presidents while they’re in office. But they wouldn’t be afraid of having their careers ended with a mean tweet, so maybe they wouldn’t be so sycophantic. I’m not sure if he’d be quite as popular with his base, though. They’d love the wall and the Muslim ban and all that stuff, but I think they’d be a little disappointed if he started talking like a normal politician.
Well, I think the OP is missing the overarching point of Individual-ONE’s bombast. It is sleight-of-hand. Like, if a bag lady bumps into you, you are going to notice her and her ravings and her ickiness, not so much the hand of that other guy deftly lifting your wallet out of your pocket.
The “draining the swamp” thing is actually happening. The administration has people working in the background to carve out the heart of the government and sell its sweetmeats on to the highest bidder, not to mention the federal bench packing (he has filled more appeals court seats in 3 years than Obama was able to do in 8). But that is getting almost zero attention, because the slug in charge is doing its level best to distract the media and the citizens with its ridiculous gastropodal dancing and antenna-waving.
Would a less absurd head of state be more effective at accomplishing the destruction of the federal government? Hard to say. There would most likely be considerably more attention paid to the details of the policies and effects, but perhaps a different person – say, a Rafael Cruz – might be adept at selling the nihilistic policy choices.
Right now, though, the state that he las left the CDC and NIH in could ultimately prove problematic, unless he is able to jive that off as someone else’s shortcoming.
I tend to agree. For all his failings (and they are many), Trump can work a crowd. He is the consummate salesman; he knows how to read an audience, play to their weakness, get them to like him, and get what he wants from them. He could be selling used cars or tariffs on China, it doesn’t matter. Always be closing.
I really detest the pep-rally aspect of politics. I also can’t deny that it works.
ETA: When I say “it works”, I mean that it gets people elected, not that we wind up with better leaders.
I tend to agree sadly. I don’t think most americans understand or care about policy that much, so a Trumpian politician who declares war on democracy and institutions but who does it subtly wouldn’t really arouse much resistance the way Trump does.
The main aim of the current Republican party is to reduce taxes on the wealthy and get rid of entitlements. His base, even the ones who depend on those entitlements are not really opposed to this since they believe that most of those entitlements go to “those people”. A sane Trump might be even better at this. Does no one here recall that W wanted to end Social Security, but wiser heads prevailed. Those wiser heads have left the party. No, I prefer an incompetent Trump to a competent one.
I am astounded by OP’s thesis. Trump is
[ul][li] Actively pushing policies to enrich the already-rich at the expense of the poor and working class,[/li][li] Repealing, whether with legislation or executive action, environmental protections, consumer protections, employee protections, and other regulations,[/li][li] Decimating U.S. government science, once the envy of the world. He has also stripped the State Department of its best personnel, and so on. Much of the damage is almost irreparable,[/li][li] Treating immigrants, whether legal or not, without compassion. Students with valid visas have been turned around at airports for worshiping the wrong God,[/li][li] Following a course in Middle East relations advised by nobody at all except his fellow dictators and the right-wing Jewish lobby.[/li][li] Changing Iran from a country on a better track, to being a major U.S. enemy once again developing nuclear capabilities. Trump’s foreign policy decisions have been so stupid that it’s hard to believe he is NOT acting as Putin’s puppet.[/li][li] Making blatant corruption the new norm for American politics,[/li][li] Preaching that the media is the enemy,[/li][li] Giving new vitality to racists and bigots of all sorts,[/li][li] Et cetera.[/li][/ul]
I hope OP is auditioning for The Onion. I pity him if this thread is ingenuous.