Vox posted this morning about people trying to get a handle on Trump’s ideology — a tall order, since he doesn’t really have one in the sense we’ve come to expect from politicians. He has beliefs and goals, of course, but they weren’t formed by years of fitting into a political party and being instructed by special interest groups. They come from a lifetime of seeing what works — and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work, because he’s had plenty of failures too — and applying those lessons to situations as they come along.
The irony of so many conservatives attacking Trump is that his viewpoint and attitude are much like that of their idol Reagan. Reagan was more intelligent and educated than people thought, but he didn’t have an ideology based on white papers and party politics either. He had a common-sense, small-town conservatism that came from growing up and working in the Midwest. That gave him an optimism about America that may have led to some mistakes — most notably the immigration amnesty in 1986 — but which also helped him to inspire people and lead them to accomplish things which hadn’t been thought possible. He had a “Hey, this isn’t right, let’s fix it” mentality that’s very traditional American.
Trump is the same way. His image of America may not always be entirely realistic, but goals don’t have to be. What matters is that he’s going to walk into the office each day asking what is being done to move America in that direction, instead of what needs to be done on the other side of the world today, or what he can say to look good in the media.
The knee-jerk perspective says that a man who owns casinos and is on his third marriage can’t hold a Norman Rockwell-like ideal of America. But maybe owning casinos and being through divorce, and seeing what that world is like, makes a man long for a better America.