Possible futures: how Trump or a populist could capture the left




Around the time that the Democratic and Republican conventions were over, there was an expectation that Trump and Hillary would swing towards the center. This is the traditional maneuver for Presidential candidates. I argued with my wife (a lefty) that Trump could capture a segment of Democrats if he kept his platform but changed the way he sold the ideas. My wife thought I was crazy, that he would never change and dismissed him as a typical boomer. She was right about him not changing his message. Then I thought that he might move more to the center during and after the inauguration.  Of course I was disappointed, he doubled down on partisanship. So it looks like Trump is not going to change and is going to continue to drive wedges between the left and right, which is really disappointing.

In this article I would like to give a rough outline how I think Trump could have sold his basic platform to lefties. Regardless of your political persuasion you should try to drop your normal framework before reading further. My outline is not oriented around the traditional left/right axis or ways of thinking about these problems. Also these are not necessarily my views but rather ways I think they could be sold.

Illegal Immigration – Clearly the whole illegal immigrants are rapists statements he made would have been hard to overcome, but he could of pivoted his message to one of class in America. Basically pointed out that there are two classes. Illegals who have no citizenship and are preyed upon by by businesses and subject to crime. We have a black market for labor which only benefits business. It hurts blue collar working people and those that need entry-level jobs such as young people. These entry-level jobs are also gateways to better jobs and businesses. He could also have skewered the Democrats for creating this “class” system and furthering it. He could have offered a more permanent solution instead of the band aids that the left proposes.

I think he could have skirted around the whole amnesty issue by saying that he didn’t want to incentivise more illegal immigration which hurts the children of illegals and creates a larger black market of labor for businesses to exploit. It also further drives the hopelessness and despair felt by blue collar workers. He could have attacked the left by being completely out of touch on this issue… which they are.

Bottom line he could have made it a issue of working people vs. black market labor, business and the left perpetuating the system.

Immigration or the so-called Muslim ban – Instead of driving this issue with fear he could have played it differently. Basically he could have called into question the whole “we fight them over there so we don’t have to over here” argument. In the big picture which is more compassionate/humane? Invading, dropping bombs and trying to force our way of life on foreigners (what McChrystal called insurgent math)  or simply cutting off immigration from these countries?

Trade – Both Trump and Bernie were similar on trade. Basically Trump could have borrowed some Bernie’s arguments. In other words he could have stopped talking about trade as if it was just bad negotiation and started talking about it more as hurting working people. Trump could have also borrowed from Bannon regarding China and their unfair trade practices. He could have sold this to lefties in terms of government policy and crony capitalist being in bed to sell the American people out. To be fair Trump did some of this but it is more of matter where he put the emphasis.

Trump seems to have stumbled into a populist wave but he doesn’t really know how to sell it beyond his base or those who just want any change. I’m sure someone is watching this and taking notes. This is what really scares me. Competent people are watching and learning. Those are the ones who should keep us vigilant.


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