New York real estate magnate Donald Trump is a hard-core conservative who gained fame on the political front by challenging Obama’s legitimacy as an American citizen. Besides real estate, Trump’s businesses include clothing and the Miss USA beauty pageant. Since 2004, he has hosted his own reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” He is also an author and the founder of Trump University, which teaches the art of deal-making.
As a young teenager, Trump was sent to the New York Military Academy to correct behavioral problems. He attended the Jesuit’s Fordham University for two years then transferred to the Ivy-League University of Pennsylvania. While there, he took undergraduate classes at the Wharton School of Business. Despite Trump’s business acumen and successes, he has filed for bankruptcy four times.
According to a recent Washington Post–ABC News poll, Trump’s support is strongest among white Republicans with limited education. For them—and others—he fills a political void by saying what other candidates think but are generally “too smart to say out loud.“ This is not unlike liberals’ favoring Bernie Sanders, though Trump is more brash in voicing his beliefs.
Trump’s pet issues are the economy, immigration, and just about anything Obama, especially Obamacare. Trump calls the program a “catastrophe,” and he would repeal and replace it. In the past, he has supported universal healthcare and a system that mirrors Canada’s single-payer program.
Given his speech when announcing his candidacy, it is no secret where Trump stands on illegal immigration from Mexico. He is fiercely opposed to a path toward citizenship for undocumented workers and would build a wall on the southern border and have Mexico pay for it. On the other side, he would allow more European immigration and a legal status to those graduating from U.S. colleges.
On the economy, the billionaire promises to crush “our enemy” China, end outsourcing, and create “tens of millions of new jobs.” He favors creating two minimum wages—one for young workers and a slightly higher one for older workers. However, he would not support those increases if they create a disincentive for business development.
Trump would end corporate taxes and lower individual rates. He says he would consider a one-time tax on the wealthy to pay down the debt. He would change the current income tax rates to a five-tier system with the lowest earners paying a 1% income tax. Americans earning more than $1 million would pay 15%.
Instead of cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits, Trump believes the economy should be grown to save them. He tweeted in May that he knows “where to get the money from” and “nobody else does.”
Trump believes climate change is a hoax and, at one point, held that the concept was created by the Chinese to suppress the U.S. economy.
Very strong on the second amendment, Trump would limit restrictions on guns, which he says are needed for self-defense. He does, however, favor a ban on some assault weapons and an extension of the waiting period for purchase.
Although he was pro-choice in 2000, Trump has since stated that he’s pro-life. He believes abortion should be banned at some point in pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. He believes same-sex marriages should be a state issue, although he had indicated that the Supreme Court could issue a ruling to determine the law.
Regarding foreign policy in the Middle East, Trump says he would walk away from nuclear talks with Iran and, instead, increase sanctions. He denounces Obama’s interactions with Netanyahu and wants to strengthen the relationship with the prime minister. He favors sending a limited number of combat troops into Iraq to defeat ISIS and stop Islamic terrorists.
Claims to fame
• Stoked tea party suspicions about Obama’s legitimacy.
• Formed Trump University
• Created Trump Tower and the Trump Taj Mahal, which was the world’s largest hotel
• Won an Emmy award for “The Apprentice.”
• A pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
• Green energy as a priority
• A woman’s right to choose
• Legal requirements for hiring women and minorities
• Same-sex unions
• Expansion of Obamacare
• Expansion of free trade
• Eliminating income tax
• Common Core standards
• A market-led recovery versus a stimulus
• Keeping God in the public sphere
• Vouchers to allow school choice
• Stricter punishments to reduce crime
• Supporting American exceptionalism
• Expansion of the military
• Absolute right to gun ownership
• Privatizing Social Security
• A reduction in EPA restrictions
• Higher taxes on the wealthy
No opinion on—
• Making voter registration easier
• Avoiding foreign entanglements
Announcing his campaign (June 2015): “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.”
What to watch for in the debate
There’s little doubt that Trump will command much attention in the debate. But which Trump will arrive on stage? Will it be the outspoken Trump as the world knows him, or will he be more nuanced? That question, along with the as-yet unclear picture of exactly who makes up Trump’s base, creates a conundrum for the other candidates, making it difficult for them to figure out how to challenge him.
One task facing the top tier of candidates is to acknowledge the current national malaise and present credible ideas that go beyond Trump’s boastful arrogance. People gravitate to Trump because he’s made money, built things, and been very successful. None of the other Republican candidates can really say that. Consequently, they’ll have a hard time convincing anyone they have the answers
Trump has claimed that he would “make America great again” and be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” But he’s said little about how he would accomplish that. His rivals are likely to press him to get specific.
Given the recent controversy, one topic that could dominate the debate is funding for Planned Parenthood. Trump has said he’d support a government shutdown to block funds. That almost ensures the hot-button topic will come.
A lifelong communicator, I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb talking. But with no siblings to chat and play with, I learned to express myself in writing. My subsequent birth as a politics junkie came while I watched my father, a career Marine, sob uncontrollably over Kennedy's assassination. Intuitively, I knew the world would never be the same, and I should pay attention. So I did.
Now, some 50 years later, I find myself dumbfounded by the trajectory of American politics and the prevalence of ignorance, bigotry, hate, and violence. I started Two Cents of Sense, hoping to help change that trajectory and to promote progressives' conversation, knowledge sharing, and actions.