The Trump Brand is: strong provocateur, a master negotiator.
First, a moment of anthropology: Small City Power Structure:
There is a kind of Republican that I am familiar and comfortable around. I characterize them as Chamber of Commerce, Rotarian, civic-minded, country club Republicans. They are professional and business people in the solid upper middle class. They are financially comfortable and politically moderate. They are small-city "establishment", community leader people. They are on nonprofit and government boards: city councils, school boards, the boards of arts organizations. They drive nice cars, but don't own jets. They do not consider themselves "good ol' boys" but they do know and socialize with each other, raise money from each other for good causes, and appoint each other to local policy-making boards.
Those people tend to be Republican but there are Democrats among them. Partisan consciousness exists but it is usually muted, since the issues facing schools and symphonies don't break along partisan lines, and there in general agreement that these government and non-government institutions are necessary and good.
Local readers will recognize themselves.
My conversations with the Republicans in this group showed them to be uncomfortable with Donald Trump. Donald Trump has failed their propriety test. His insults, name calling, and contempt for people they respect bothers them more than it does the average Republican voter because they are accustomed to public civility in language and manner. People have to get along and play nicely on these various local institutions. But Republican leaders are coming around to support for Trump because:
***Currently Trump is the one Republican option on the menu.
*** It is Trump or Hillary, and they have a 25 year history of disliking Clintons.
***Trump has the capacity to shake things up, in a direction they think change is needed.
Voters voted for gridlock and Republicans have heard for 35 years that government is the problem and limited government is best. They wanted Republican congresses to stop Obama's initiatives. They thought they wanted hamstrung government. Trump has awakened them to a new idea: we need strong--not weak--government to advance American interests, and Trump is strong and can shake things up.
Effective government is not a foreign idea to local Republican leaders. They aren't anarchists or libertarians. They lead local government and non-government organizations and want them to work effectively. A few of them home-school, but they drive on city streets, drink city water, call 911 in emergencies, and want zoning to work well enough to protect the value of their home from a neighbor's wish to put in a home business machine shop.
|NY Times interview: "Everything is negotiable."|
What directions will Trump move the country? Everyone gets to imagine something nice. Trump himself is vague and inconsistent, and, remember, he is a showman and a negotiator, which allows troubled and skeptical Republicans to think that Trump doesn't actually mean what he says--that Trump is just taking a negotiating position. In fact, on the job, they reason, he will move things in the way that makes sense.
Will he really build a wall and deport 11 million people? Nah. He will do something, but nothing too disruptive. He can't. And Trump is practical.
Will he really apply a 35% tariff and start a trade war with Mexico and China? Nah. He will do something, but nothing too disruptive. He wouldn't want to destroy things.
Does he really hate abortion and will he get anti-abortion legislation passed? Or ban 14th Amendment birth citizenship? Or allow significant coal pollution? Or register Muslims? Or abridge the Kyoto treaty on climate or the Geneva Convention on torture? Nah, that is just stuff he is saying to get elected.
Trump's brand as showman, negotiator, and provocateur has insulated him from the charge of being openly dishonest. Instead, his comments are interpreted as craft--something good. The good-government small city Republicans, remain offended by Trump's insulting style, but have accommodated themselves to his policies. They have concluded that Trump's policies are "not that bad" because he doesn't mean what he says. He would really do something more benign and reasonable because, after all, he is a businessman who owns real estate and therefore he is rooted in American success just like they are.
Trump's real estate wealth assures that Trump is--at bottom--safe. Politicians and Wall Streeters can escape the consequences of their actions. Politicians can change positions and money can leave town. But Trump is stuck. He cannot do anything too crazy or he hurts himself. Trump can be trusted.
The Republicans in my cohort of the small city power structure are rooted here. They want government to work because this is their home and government does important things. Trump, too has roots, on the ground in the form of real estate.
They can trust Trump. He will shake things up but he is not a bull in a china shop because he, like them, owns part of the store. They figure he is a builder and a protector, not a destroyer.