Donald Trump’s Supporters Are In Love & Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry
The hills are alive with the sound of xenophobia. At Donald Trump campaign rallies, cries of "Build a wall!" are eclipsed only by the ubiquitous "Make America great again!" Indeed, Trump's immigration policy — centered on the building of the infamous wall on the U.S./Mexico border and the deportation of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants — has been one of the campaign's tentpoles. But all that seemed to change Sunday, when Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said the proposal was "to be determined."
In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Conway declined to give a "yes or no" answer when asked whether deportation would remain a cornerstone of Trump's immigration policy, stressing instead the campaign's desire to make any such policy "fair and humane." These comments came after Trump met with his Hispanic advisory council over the weekend. According to BuzzFeed, council members said that Trump indicated a new openness to a less draconian immigration policy, possibly including the ability for undocumented immigrants to pursue a path to legal status. The Trump campaign refuted the BuzzFeed account.
Trump is set to give a major immigration speech later this week, but the possibility that he could be softening his stance on immigration is difficult for me to believe. This is, after all, the candidate who accused a federal judge of Mexican heritage of being incapable of neutrality in overseeing the Trump University lawsuit because of Trump's proposed immigration policies.
But if Trump does soften his hardline stance on deportation forces, won't he lose some of his most ardent anti-immigrant supporters? Won't he lose enthusiasm in his base?
In short, no. That is because Trump's campaign has never been about policy, and I believe most of his supporters don't — and won't — care.
This is the candidate who, before running for the Republican nomination, donated large amounts of money to Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton. In the past, he's called himself "very pro-choice," and he criticized "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" back in 2000 in an interview with The Advocate, adding he "liked the idea" of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. These positions are anathema to a large swath of Trump's so-called "base" — white Republicans devoted to limiting reproductive and LGBT rights. Trump now speaks differently about social issues, but even so, he won the Republican nomination, despite running against candidates with far more established anti-choice and anti-LGBT credentials.
Trump supporters love to attend his rallies. They love to tweet at and about their candidate. But as far as I can tell, they don't love actually listening to him.
In one of his most infamous comments of the campaign, Trump claimed that he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" without losing voters. Four months later, he clinched the Republican nomination. There is an old saying about politics: that "Democrats fall in love" with their candidate, while "Republicans fall in line." But Trump supporters, many for the first time, are in love — and love means never having to say you're sorry for flip-flopping.
Image: Bustle/Dawn Foster