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Trump Is Everything To Everybody Who Doesn’t Know Anything

I get more news from Scott Adams’ blog sometimes than the actual “news” organizations. The creator of “Dilbert” is harping on how Trump has successfully undefined the word “conservative” by claiming to be one while holding positions on every side of every issue.

Adams calls this “strategic ambiguity.” It’s kind of like Nancy Pelosi saying “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” A Trump presidency will be conservative, but we have to elect him to find out what that means.

If you’re a racist, you have a reason to like Trump because of CNN’s intentional misreporting and the fact that Trump didn’t do enough disavowing that one time. If you’re not a racist, you can like Trump because he disavowed racists several times, in writing and on video.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you hate socialized healthcare, you might like Trump, because he hates socialized medicine too. Except that he also says he won’t let people with no money “die on the streets.” So if you like socialized medicine, you might like giving free healthcare to those people, like Trump.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you hate illegal immigrants, you might like Trump because he says he will deport every one of them. But if you feel compassion for illegal immigrants who are otherwise good residents of the country, you know Trump always makes a big first offer and will later negotiate to something humane and reasonable.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you oppose war, you might like Trump because he opposed the Iraq war and has a history of being reluctant to commit U.S. forces overseas. But if you think the U.S. should keep bombing other countries, Trump might be your candidate because he wants to bomb the shit out of ISIS and maybe kill some of their families too.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you want a religious president, Trump can give you that. He has belonged to a church since youth and says the Bible is a great book. But if you don’t like mixing religion and politics, Trump might be your candidate because he hasn’t made a big deal about religion.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

There’s more where those came from. Pick an issue, and Trump is likely on both sides of it. And for people who don’t have particularly strong positions on most things, but care deeply about one or two things, it works. Adams wrote “And as ridiculous as it seems for a strategy, it works like a charm because of confirmation bias. People see whatever they want to see.”

Conservatism, as a movement, actually does have a definition, hewn from the quarries of liberal executive, legislative and (especially) judicial activism. It means a balance of federalism and republicanism–operating a federal republic where the central government does not practice wanton delegation of powers by fiat; where personal responsibility matters; where government does not pick economic winners and losers; where personal effort yields personal consequences, or the reverse. Where trying to lift, by its handle, a bucket you’re standing in is not a prescription for success.

But low-information voters will buy whatever the media is selling–or what a crafty salesman offers them. The media, for years, has sold the concept that conservatism is anything not liberal. Here, Adams echoes it:

A year ago I could not have said what I just said without being drummed off of the Internet. But Trump has laid bare the ridiculousness of the conservative label. In 2016, the word conservative can be seen as a tool of influence – a shaming tool – used by the party elites to bring people together under their handpicked puppet. Conservative doesn’t have a normal definition that is useful and widely understood. That’s why it works so well for persuasion. If it had a rigid definition, lots of people could find a reason to disagree. But by leaving the definition of conservative in ambiguity, people see nothing with which they can disagree. That is classic persuasion.

Jonah Goldberg, who has spent his entire career honing the sharp edges of the conservative blade, using it to carve up the indulgent mixture of liberalism, progressivism and pure fascism, was disgusted by the phenomenon of the con man leading the uncaring uninformed into a brave new world. He lamented in September.

And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons.

We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them. Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.

And that leads me to my central point. Trump has no core, no coherent, rational set of beliefs, other than to make you believe him. The more informed a person is, the less he can stomach Trump. If Trump were a planet, he’d be a gas giant. All gas and wind, with no core. He’s the Jupiter of candidates.

The antidote to Trump is knowledge. This is why negative ads work so well on him. It’s not that organizations like Our Principles PAC slander Trump. They simply tell the truth about him using his own words. The truth just happens to be negative. The left-leaning media knows the truth about Trump–they’ve covered him for years. The truth is plainly available on the Internet. It’s not even covered up.

“Hillary would wallop him,” Cruz said.

“Donald may be the only person on the face of the planet that Hillary Clinton can beat.”

In July 2015, David Cay Johnston wrote 21 questions for Donald Trump. Cay wrote that he’s covered Trump off and on for 27 years. Read the questions. It’s all there. Most of this stuff is being held by the press until such a time as they need it, like if Trump wins the GOP nomination. Hillary would destroy him.

So the answer, dear friends, is to educate voters. Most of them don’t know anything about Trump other than he’s a billionaire running for president, and that he says things they agree with (because he says things everyone agrees with). They hear the things they like and ignore the stuff they don’t care about. They defend Trump on the things he says that contradict what they agree with.

But the more they know about the race and Trump and his politics of deception, the more they’ll have second thoughts about heading to the polls to vote for him. Talk about politics with your friends, neighbors, and even with fellow churchgoers. You don’t have to directly disparage The Donald (it rarely works). Just talk to people about what issues matter to them.

An informed voter is less likely to vote for Trump. Its why he has lost 4 out of 5 caucuses. I am sanguine about this election for one reason: Americans eventually get around to caring about something. Even Obama’s supporters supported him because he stood for something. Even Hillary has the benefit of being the first woman (likely) to win nomination for president by a major party. That’s something.

But Trump has the anti-virtue of having a campaign that mirrors the TV show Seinfeld: it’s totally about nothing. Which means, if you know nothing, you can believe everything about Trump. Cruz was right–it has to fall by gravity. The question is whether it will fall fast enough. I believe it will.


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