Donald Trump is a man who requires many labels.
He’s an uber-successful billionaire businessman and real estate mogul, who will go down in U.S. history as one of the more polarizing figures long after he’s gone. He’s an outspoken promotion king, whose last five letters are proudly brandished on high-rise hotels, golf resorts and countless other assets nationwide
But as Trump has ascended to the front of the Republican pack vying for the White House, he has also been branded by some as a savior — a true conservative leader who can utilize his business practices to reverse the slumping nation’s course under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Critics consider him an unfit candidate — a xenophobic hate-monger for his harsh stance on illegal immigrants from Mexico and Syrian refugees.
At least one of those things can be proven untrue: Trump is not a conservative.
As an estimated 10,000-plus packed the Sun Dome to capacity on Friday for Trump’s second campaign visit to the Tampa Bay area, many supporters opened their arms to the political outsider.
To their delight, Trump railed against Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. He laughed off former GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush, calling him low-energy and “a total stiff.” He spoke of the atrocities by the Obama administration and how much the media has opposed his campaign.
If only they knew the real Trump.
Over the last decade or so, Trump donated to the Democratic campaigns of former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Weiner and Charles Schumer among others. On four separate occasions, Trump donated to the Senate and presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, according to financial disclosure records. She was also a guest at his 2005 wedding to model Melania Knauss.
On abortion, Trump once claimed that he was “very pro-choice.” Now, all of a sudden, he’s pro-life.
In 2012, Trump said former Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to allow those in the U.S. illegally to voluntarily return home was too harsh. Less than three years later, he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border, make them foot the bill and institute serious deportation policies.
“They have to go. We either have a country, or we don’t have a country,” Trump said in an August interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He initially wanted to leave the handling of ISIS up to the Russians. Now, he wants to bomb the you-know-what out of them.
He says he would abolish Obama’s Affordable Care Act, yet has praised municipalized healthcare in countries like Canada. He told talk-show host Larry King in 1999 that he believes in a universal, single-payer system.
That is not the makeup of a conservative candidate that believes in limited government. If anything, it shows just how left Trump is.
Trump is a marketing genius. He has said things and taken stances that no other candidate would dare to touch, with the end goal of getting face time in the major media outlets he claims to dislike. It’s why his campaign has been self-funded – he simply doesn’t need to take the hundreds of millions in PAC money for advertising.
He also takes advantage of people’s anger — igniting their fire inside with things they want to hear. Things that an Average Joe might discuss around the water cooler.
Sure, Trump has never held political office. But it’s all a political gambit.
If a true conservative candidate is what you seek, look at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He’s arguably the most right-of-center choice the GOP has fielded since Ronald Reagan won twice in a landslide during the 1980s.
Maybe Marco Rubio can earn your vote. After all, the fresh-faced Florida senator was the darling of the tea party movement in 2010.
Bush? John Kasich? Ben Carson? All are more conservative than Trump. Heck, even recent dropout Jim Gilmore — who received just 12 votes in the Iowa caucus — would have been a safer choice.
If it’s a chameleon you seek, however, choose Trump. Just don’t be astounded when “Make America Great Again” unravels into a mystery box full of surprises — and another “X” in the loss column for the GOP come November.
Jeff Odom is a senior majoring in mass communications.