One of the ideas that I read fairly consistently is that Donald Trump is some type of social liberal. This was originally taken up by Republican operatives who wanted to push the idea that Trump was not a “true conservative.” This is laughably incorrect. I can’t even believe I have to address this. Trump takes conservative values and turns them up to 11.
The extent to which people think Trump is some type of liberal is based on his campaign donations to Democratic candidates; based on previous interviews where he claimed he supported pro-choice policies; and portions of his books where he talks about a way to have universal healthcare. I don’t believe I’m missing anything.
The thing you have to remember about Republican operatives is that they want every losing candidate to be portrayed as not a true conservative. Mitt Romney was portrayed as a squishy liberal because of Romneycare and whatever else the topic of the day was. John McCain was called a liberal because of his support for McCain-Feingold or his “maverick” Senate record or possibly siring a black child.
So why am I hearing it about Trump from people on the nominal political left? The short answer is that people want to justify their hatred of Hillary Clinton (or whoever the Democratic nominee would have been) and want to be able to say that voting for Trump is not going to be as bad as you would think because of some beliefs that he may have held in the past. Or maybe they really like what Trump is saying and want to find a place to hide behind. I’m not sure. But ultimately:
It does not matter what a politician sincerely believes.
Trump, if elected President, would certainly have a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate. Trump would sign whatever legislation that the Republican Congress would put forth. If you think that Trump would not sign legislation taking away rights of the LGBT community, rights of women, rights of minorities, you are simply mistaken.
Further, Trump’s judges that he says who are on the short list for federal court nominations would have to be approved by the Heritage Foundation and make up, as Scott Lemieux notes, the Conservative dream team. Replacing Antonin Scalia’s seat with a more conservative judge would set back the progress made over the last 10 years, by 50 years. The votes on the Supreme Court would be there to overturn Obergefell and Windsor. Say hello to more decisions like Shelby County.
But hey, at least we will have solace that Trump, maybe, does not in his heart of hearts believe in a conservative agenda.
Now that we got out of the way, we can go into actually dissecting his views. What evidence has Trump espoused on the campaign trail that he is a social liberal?
One of the ideas that Trump is a social liberal is based on the idea that Trump described himself as pro-choice for years. He even went so far as to say that partial-birth abortion is ok:
The idea, I guess, that some are trying to point out is that Trump, in his heart believes that abortion is ok. Ask Strom Thurmond if personal actions necessitates political beliefs.
At any rate, Trump, largely because he is running for the Republican Party’s nomination has repudiated that position. He has taken a more extreme position than most pro-life advocates have taken.
Transcript for the video: Here
So Trump believes that we should punish women for having abortions. The men would not be punished.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 59% of women obtaining an abortion are mothers. The idea behind Trump’s punishment of women having abortions would jail or fine mothers. Most of these mothers are poor, 49% of those who have had abortions make less than 100% of the federal poverty level. The majority of the women having abortions (54%) were either married or cohabitating. 1.06 million abortions were performed in 2011. These women would be punished if Trump had his way.
I should mention that Trump and his campaign later tried to clarify Trump’s point that he was referring to doctors performing abortions should be punished. It’s amazing what happens when your job is predicated on being able to keep up with the lies a compulsive liar tells.
Trump reiterates that his point is that the abortion laws are currently set and that when he is President, he would protect the unborn via judicial appointments. We could quite literally say good-bye to the standards from Roe v. Wade and say hello to personhood amendments.
If you believe that Trump is pro-choice based off of the video where he claims that he is pro-choice, then you should probably have doubts of that position based off of his video appearance with Chris Matthews. Again, it doesn’t matter what Trump believes. It matters what bills he would sign, who he would appoint to the judiciary, and what laws he would enforce. Based on his campaign and his actions, he would appoint reactionaries to the federal judiciary and would have the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Donald Trump, himself, said that he would be much better for “the women than [Hillary Clinton] is. I’m much better for the gays.” I talked about abortion above and as a side note:
I think it does a disservice to lump women’s equality and rights with the idea that I can sum it all up with abortion. According to polling, women are much more liberal than men on a number of issues. This includes support for the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage, stricter gun control, abolishing the death penalty, and support for same-sex marriage. The only issue that I have seen where women diverge from men on “liberal” issues is that women are more likely than men to think that marijuana should not be legalized. I can certainly talk at length (as if there is any other way for me) to talk about all of these (and perhaps I will).
But the idea that Trump is much better for the LGBT community is just astounding. It’s almost as if he is a compulsive liar.
Here’s Donald Trump on Fox News Sunday
WALLACE: But, Mr. Trump, let’s take one issue. You say now that the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land and that any politician who talks about wanting to amend the Constitution is just playing politics. Are you saying it’s time to move on?
TRUMP: No, I’m saying this. It has been ruled up. It has been there. If I’m a, you know, if I’m elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things.
But they’ve got a long way to go. I mean at some point, we have to get back down to business. But there’s no question about it. I mean most — and most people feel this way.
They have ruled on it. I wish that it was done by the state. I don’t like the way they ruled. I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint they should have given the state — it should be a states’ rights issue. And that’s the way it should have been ruled on, Chris, not the way they did it.
This is a very surprising ruling. And I — I can see changes coming down the line, frankly. But I would have much preferred that they ruled at a state level and allowed the states to make those rulings themselves.
WALLACE: But — but just to button this up very quickly, sir, are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?
TRUMP: I would strongly consider that, yes.
Trump is running on a strident anti-LGBT platform and nominated Mike Pence who was most famous for pushing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act through Indiana. He also co-sponsored an amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage; voted against ENDA; opposed a bill for prosecuting hate crimes; and voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
To be fair to Donald Trump, he said that people should be allowed to use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.
If you believe Trump at his word that he is going to nominate judges to overturn the same-sex marriage decision, it would seem that he is also going to nominate judges who believe in stronger RFRA laws than should be deemed appropriate, and give a larger latitude for businesses for “religious liberty.”
Child leave policy
Trump, under pressure from his daughter Ivanka I would assume, announced a child care leave reform policy. It’s predictably terrible. Why is it so terrible?
Single mothers, arguably the ones who would benefit the most from such legislation, don’t look to be included. Ivanka Trump in an interview with Cosmopolitan (which has done really great work with political issues over the last year or so, I’ve read numerous articles from them about abortion policies and birth control) said
“It’s meant to benefit, whether it’s in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code
Ivanka was widely credited with having helped draft the proposed policy which is not surprising to anyone who paid attention to the Republican National Convention. That sounds very vague and it’s almost intentionally done to be very vague because it’s “not written down yet.” The proposed policy on Trump’s website (linked above) doesn’t talk about who is included or not included but Ivanka’s interview seems to indicate that single mothers are not included. Over 3 millions single mothers living with children right now live in poverty. 70% of black children are born to unmarried women. If the goal of the legislation is to reduce the wage gap, help single moms, and reduce poverty, this policy is an abject failure. It needs specificities to note who is included and who is excluded.
Even if they clear that up, it does not include paternity leave, paid family leave to take care of sick family members, paid adoptive leave, surrogate births, same sex couples, etc. It’s really just a disaster of a policy. It’s important to include paternity leave because working fathers can take time off to be able to spend time with a newborn child to bond, allow the mother to get back to work thus reducing the wage gap, and also reduces the potential childbirth penalty employers have when they hire women. Focusing only on maternity leave would, almost certainly, make women more costly to hire than men.
Not to get to bogged down in specifics but by excluding adoptive parents, it is discriminating against millions to be able to spend time with their newly adopted child. Beyond that, it excludes nearly 40% of tax payers because they do not owe federal income taxes.
This is just getting started. It’s terrible policy. It would, in all likelihood, make things worse than they are and would leave it comically underfunded. If proposing terrible policy ideas that lack details makes you a social liberal, than sure, maybe he is one. But these are just some of the issues highlighting the comical claim that Trump is some type of social liberal.
It does not matter what a politician sincerely believes.
What matters is the legislation that they would support and for an executive what appointments they would make. It is clearer than anything in the world that Trump is a traditional conservative on both of these grounds. The legislation that he would push to be passed is terrible policy on a number of grounds and would exacerbate problems already held. I could talk more about a number of different issues where Trump does not differ form traditional Republican orthodoxy including taxes, the minimum wage, and civil rights and liberties.
But I am saving the last part, at least, for where I discuss why Trump is an authoritarian.
Trump, despite the claims of many Republican operatives, is a Republican in every sense of where the party is, currently. The extent to which Trump is a social liberal is so small that it would be smaller than his hands. He backs it up with a number of heterodox Republican stances and beliefs that I simply can’t ignore.