I don’t know if it is permissible for anyone to declare someone else’s view the most sensible because it happens to be the same as theirs, but this piece on Trump in The Weekend Oz by John O’Sullivan is the best I have seen: US election 2016: Donald Trump continues to defy the rules of politics-as-usual. As I see it, Trump is essentially a New Yorker with many of the attitudes and sensibilities of someone from New York. But he is also in his late sixties and has a residual set of values based on the way things were half a century ago. A liberal in the 1960s is someone whose values were laid down around the time JFK was president, which means he has approximately the same values that Ronald Reagan would have twenty years later. Over the span of those years, what was mainstream Democrat became mainstream Republican. Today, mainstream Democrat is Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, while Hillary is held back by a residual, although minimal, grasp of the values of the early sixties. But here the issue is Trump who in many ways sees the world much the same way as I do, and I think in much the same way as O’Sullivan.
It is this that causes Trump to make those peculiar kinds of mistakes when he tries to walk away from the things he believes in and try to imitate what he thinks a Republican believes. My advice to him is just to do the Kennedy thing and not try to pander to the religious right. They will never support him so long as Cruz is running, and in any case, it is those same fools who decided not to vote for Romney in 2012. The bigger game is in pulling Democrats across to the Republican side, not trying to shore up his near-certain constituency should he become the nominee. This, I think, is the same point O’Sullivan has tried to make.
Will Trump’s suggestion this week that women who have had abortions should face legal penalties finally trip him up?
This was a serious mistake on two levels. To pro-choice voters it looked like a barbaric threat to a constitutional right millions of American women have personally exercised. Echoed by the media, also mainly pro-choice, it will confirm the caricature of him as brutalist right-winger. To conservative voters and anti-abortion organisations, however, it revealed the very thin and outdated understanding that Trump has of the conservatism he now espouses. The anti-abortion movement long ago abandoned any thought of penalising women for having the procedure. Today they typically characterise such women as victims and direct almost all their criticisms at “abortion mills” that murder women through negligence as well as babies intentionally, or at organisations such as Planned Parenthood that provide abortion almost as a late stage method of birth control.
Or then this:
On other issues as well, such as killing the families of terrorists, Trump expresses what he supposes to be hardline conservative opinions; but because he is late to the faith (and perhaps not very devout), he constantly gets it wrong, and expresses instead what liberals (like himself until recently) think conservatives believe in their dark hearts.
Reporting that concentrated on this misunderstanding might weaken Trump with at least a segment of the Right. But most mainstream journalists have a view of conservatism only slightly less skewed than Trump’s.
What Trump doesn’t get is that there are plenty of us on the right that, whatever our religious beliefs, hold other values as more important, with the preservation of our way of life high on that list. We are not worried that he won’t get the exact nuance right about abortion nor about the way that terrorists should be dealt with through constitutional procedures. We don’t need him to take the hardest most-Rambo line he can think of. For myself, I am content to let him enter the Oval Office and in the company of the cabinet he chooses, work through what needs to be done. It is his instincts that I am looking for him to guide him as these issues arrive on his desk. Again I think O’Sullivan is exactly right about this.
Trump voters discovered their hero in the early debates not because he was an alpha male or a star of reality television — though these things helped — but because he expressed their own feelings and opinions on matters that both major parties sedulously avoided. . . .
Trump discovered his voters and their issues almost as much as his voters discovered Trump. Once he had done that, however, reporters and sociologists noticed the existence of entire classes of voters whose interests government had largely ignored and whose angry discontents were fuelling an insurgent campaign that broke half the rules of polite electioneering. So angry were these voters, indeed, that they simply tuned out criticisms of Trump, however seemingly justified, as emerging from a failing, inactive, and remote establishment that despised them and therefore him.
And then these same non-insightful journalists and political insiders also discovered something else.
As the primaries wore on, Trump proved to be winning votes at all levels of wealth and education, even if disproportionately at the lower end. And Tea Partiers were more concerned with fiscal solvency, expenditure control and constitutional limits on what government can do, whereas Trump supporters were enthusiasts for activist government that would get things done at home and abroad.
It therefore comes down to what Trump can and cannot do if elected. But the one thing he most certainly could do by winning the election is deprive Hillary of the office herself, with this conclusion:
Trump could never inflict the same amount of damage on the Republican vision of America as Clinton. She would enjoy the support of a major party, the media, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and all the great social and cultural institutions of America. She would be virtually unimpeachable as the first woman president.
This really is the reality since it is all of the above who will do all they can to elect her, and without Trump her success is assured, at the 95% level. None of the other 17 Republicans who have gone for the nomination has ever had the slightest chance of winning. The immense amount of money that is coming to Cruz and Kasich from among the largest Democrat donors is a sure sign they know who Hillary’s most formidable opponent is. O’Sullivan ends with this:
Trump would have none of [Hillary’s] advantages as president — not even the support of congressional Republicans. He would be unable to pass controversial parts of his program. His administration would become a byword for gridlock.
The Road Runner would run out of steam and finish up wrapped entirely in red tape — not a cartoon threat but a cautionary tale.
I would expect more, but first we have to see Trump win. Although O’Sullivan doesn’t say so in words, he seems to have been saying it very clearly between the lines of his article, the best analysis of the election I have so far seen anywhere.