Right wing commentator Charles Krauthammer is no fan of Donald Trump and in his latest column tries to understand why Republicans voters have chosen him as their standard bearer.
He says that the conventional analysis of Trump’s rise being due to the base being angry with the feckless leadership of the party establishment does not make sense.
This is the narrative: GOP political leaders made promises of all kinds and received in return, during President Obama’s years, major electoral victories that gave them the House, the Senate, 12 new governorships and 30 statehouses. Yet they didn’t deliver. Exit polls consistently showed that a majority of GOP primary voters (60 percent in some states) feel “betrayed” by their leaders.
Not just let down or disappointed. Betrayed. By RINOs who, corrupted by donors and lobbyists, sold out. Did they repeal Obamacare? No. Did they defund Planned Parenthood? No. Did they stop President Obama’s tax-and-spend hyperliberalism? No. Whether from incompetence or venality, they let Obama walk all over them.
But he says that this analysis cannot be right because the person whom these disenchanted party members have turned to has views that don’t correspond to what they are supposedly looking for.
Trump has expressed sympathy for a single-payer system of socialized medicine, far to the left of Obamacare. Trump lists health care as one of the federal government’s three main responsibilities (after national security); Republicans adamantly oppose federal intervention in health care. He also lists education, which Republicans believe should instead be left to the states.
As for Planned Parenthood, the very same conservatives who railed against the Republican establishment for failing to defund it now rally around a candidate who sings the praises of its good works (save for the provision of abortion).
Krauthammer then arrives at a somewhat startling conclusion.
The ideological realignment is stark. On major issues — such as the central question of retaining America’s global preeminence as leader of the free world, sustainer of Western alliances and protector of the post-World War II order — the GOP candidate stands decidedly to the left of the Democrat.
The idea that Trump is some kind of stealth left-wing candidate is a bit much to take. But Trump’s recent musings suggesting that he is in favor of higher taxes for the rich and higher minimum wages (though as Greg Sargent points out, he presented these ideas in his usual confused style that leaves them open to multiple interpretations), suggest that he, in this election where populism on economic issues has been a major draw, may be trying to be ‘more populist-than-thou’ with the person he expects to be the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.