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Commentary: Trump is Not a Republican

These commentaries are a team effort. I can’t thank KBIA staff enough for their production support: Ryan, Sarah, Nathan, Beatriz and Kyle by name. If you enjoyed the recent Beatles commentary, thank Kyle Felling.


The commentaries also require topics to write about. My all-time favorite topic, by a wide margin -- the gift that keeps on giving – is of course Donald Trump. My first mention of Trump was in December of 2015. The next one was in January 2016, when I compared him to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. I will return to European political leaders in a moment.


In almost every commentary since – nearly forty – Trump has come up. He is a mixed blessing: Never a shortage of things to talk about, but since the commentaries have to be recorded in advance I run the risk of my commentary being obsolete by the time it’s broadcast.

Take the last three weeks for example. Steve Bannon fired. The Arizona sheriff pardoned. Trump’s defiant remarks about white supremacists in Charlottesville. His toxic feud with congressional Republicans. I’ll also return to that in a moment.

Last January a couple of weeks before the inauguration I said in this space that I had a pretty good idea what we could expect from President Trump.

First, he won’t change how he behaves. Check.

Second, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks except when you attack him, his family or one of his businesses. Check.

Third, he ran as a Republican but is not a Republican. Here’s what I said then: “The GOP was and is a conveyance of convenience. I predict that his biggest early battles will be with the old guard Republicans in the U.S. House and especially the Senate, and with establishment conservatives in the media and think tanks.” Check.

A growing group of disaffected Republicans are coming out against him. Recently the most respected living Republican in Missouri, former Sen. John Danforth, harshly attacked him.

But Trump doesn’t care. He’s not a Republican and party niceties are for swamp dwellers. He’ll shut the government down to get his wall and if the party suffers big losses in 2018 then it’s because they’re losers.

What President Trump would like is a presidency like the one in France. Earlier this year Emmanuel Macron founded his own party, ran as an outsider and won. Then his brand new party won the majority in the French parliament. What President Trump would give for an electoral system that would allow that.

There’s one more thing about Macron that President Trump could use: His makeup artist. At least the $31,000 Macron spent on cosmetics make his face look like actual human skin.

Terry Smith is a political science professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics offering sometimes serious… sometimes tongue in cheek… analysis and predictions.

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