Another week has passed and I'm still unenthusiastic about Donald Trump's presumptive GOP presidential nomination. Instead of allaying our fears, he's intensifying them — as if on purpose.
Throughout the primaries I've expressed doubt that Trump is a reliable conservative, and my skepticism has already been vindicated.
Yes, I've held my nose and supported RINO nominees before, always believing that less damage to the conservative cause and nation would come in supporting those candidates. But with Trump we have a different situation than ever before.
Trump opponents have not only denied Trump's conservatism; they've also warned that it would be a gamble to bank on any of Trump's campaign promises.
His supporters insist that he has changed, like "Ronald Reagan changed." But Reagan became the national spokesperson for conservatism for years. Trump, on the other hand, has never even claimed to have a conversion, and he speaks of conservatism as if it's a chain around his neck, not the best remedy for America. Further, Trump seems to change his stance on issues every other day. How can anyone feel comfortable with that?
Now that he's virtually the nominee, Trump is beginning to change his positions on major issues — defiantly. It's obvious he doesn't believe he's accountable to voters, only to himself.
Trump said on ABC's "This Week" that he's very different from everyone else who's ever run for office, so perhaps the party doesn't need to be unified in the traditional sense. He thinks he's going to get millions of Democrat voters. "I'm going to get Bernie people to vote because they like me on trade. I have to stay true to my principles, also, and I'm a conservative, but don't forget this is called the Republican Party. It's not called the Conservative Party."
None of this bothers Trump's supporters, who say he's electable despite his negative approval ratings because he'll put blue states in play.
But if true, which I doubt, at what price — being liberal on many issues, including trade?
And what does Trump mean that he'll have to be true to his principles? How can we possibly know what those principles are, as they don't appear to be moored in any coherent philosophy of governance?
Is Trump firm on any position, other than the wall and tariffs? Those may be all that matters to some voters, but forgive me for not being so narrow in focus.
Putting aside his secret interview with The New York Times in which he allegedly confessed that even his positions on immigration would be negotiable, he's already hinted that he supports "touchback" amnesty.
Plus, last week he also said he was going to tax the rich — not just hedge funders, but all high-income earners. Never mind that he put out a written tax plan promising to reduce the highest income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. That was just his opening gambit, you see. To him, everything is a negotiation. He shamelessly admitted on "This Week" that his plan shows those taxes going down, "but by the time it's negotiated, they'll go up."
I pointed this out to Trump supporters on Twitter and they cynically said he had to say what he needed to say to win. Just like they defended him as a buyer of political influence because he had to protect his empire. Just as they'll doubtlessly defend his ludicrous statement that he'll reduce the national debt by negotiating with our creditors, full faith and credit of the United States be damned.
I then asked them how they know he isn't just saying what he needs to say now to win the general. Ah, but who cares? A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little Lyin' Ted Cruzers.
Trump has also reneged on his pledge not to raise the minimum wage, and he's rationalizing his flip like he did his transgender bathroom support — it's a states' rights issue. Oh, yes, he's now a 10th Amendment crusader.
Trump's boast that he would finance his own campaign to be free of political influence has also gone by the wayside, but don't expect his supporters to object, though it was one of their main stated reasons for supporting him.
Though it is the Trump supporters' prerogative to be blindly forgiving on his brazen flip-flops and his behavior, how can they be surprised that the rest of us won't fall in line?
His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, arrogantly proclaimed that the people have endorsed Trump's agenda, so the onus is on Republicans to move toward Trump and not the other way around. May we at least ask, "Just what is that agenda? What Trump statements can we rely on? Are any non-negotiable?"
Conservatives are more nervous than they've ever been about a GOP presidential nominee. We've always understood the threat Obama represents to the nation, but we could fight him like blazes because he's on the other team. Now we have a guy, ostensibly on our own team, who is problematic in too many ways to count, and is all over the board and mostly moving left — as we predicted.
Despite his supporters' blithe dismissal of Trump's unlikability, FiveThirtyEight reports, "Trump's average 'strongly unfavorable' rating, 53 percent, is 20 percentage points higher than every candidate's rating besides Clinton's." Even if Trump continues moving left, it's doubtful Democrats will trust him any more than conservatives do.
As such, Team Trump better reconsider its apparent decision to continue to snub and insult the conservative base. Constitutional conservatives are not about to go down without a fight — not because of sour grapes or ego, but because they know the country can't survive the destruction of the conservative movement, as the nation can't turn itself around without reaffirming its founding principles. To win their support, Trump will have to prove to them he'll mostly govern like a conservative, not like a liberal or a guy who constantly flips a coin.