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Donald Trump continues to dominate political news and the Republican presidential field.
So what’s new? Well, with time running out — only 10 weeks before voting begins in Iowa — Trump may trump all the rules of politics. If he ends up winning the GOP nomination, American politics will never be the same. Historians may call it the Trump Era. And that’s true even if he loses the general election.
Here are some of the new rules in the Trump Era:
Gaffes Are Good
Before Trump, when candidates said something egregious, they had to acknowledge the error and perhaps they’d lose so much credibility they would flame out. But with Trump we need to put quote marks around the word “gaffes” because he doesn’t suffer from them in polls. Sometimes he actually spikes higher after a supposed “gaffe.” If his support rises, that must mean it wasn’t an error. Indeed, some wonder if he intentionally says something outrageous, knowing the media will react (i.e. overreact in the view of his fans) and then he can castigate the media as “politically correct” and insufferable.
Others don’t think he is doing it deliberately; they think he can’t help but blurt whatever he is thinking. A guy on Twitter said Trump is “like a Roomba in a sandbox.”
Flip-Flopping Is An Acrobatic Art
It’s a fact that Trump often changes his positions — not just little adjustments, huuuuge flip-flops. Someone tweeted, “Trump’s positions are incoherently extreme — deport ‘em all, then let ‘em all back in; let Putin handle ISIS, let’s bomb the s**t out of them.” Much the same could be said about his reversals on health care, abortion, accepting Syrian refugees and other issues.
Saying It’s So Makes It So
Trump has cited “facts” that turn out to be false. For example, as CNN reported: Trump retweets fake, racially charged crime data from non-existent group. And Trump claimed to remember seeing thousands of Arab-Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrating the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City. Challenged to offer corroborating evidence, he just double-downed and insisted it happened. Even Breitbart News, ordinarily pro-Trump, had to concede his claim was “unfounded.”
Truth Isn’t Really Relevant
Comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness.” An assertion may not be “true” in the old sense of being accurate, but if you believe it, that’s good enough. Don’t argue with your brain if your gut is more convincing. NBC News' First Read called Trump “The Post-Truth 2016 Candidate.” That seems true.
Twitter Is For Squelching Opponents
Trump has used Twitter as a way to dominate news coverage and lay waste to his opponents. But he also just loves to opine on Twitter, maintaining his celeb critic cred. As trite or insulting as his tweets may be, many people — including reporters — retweet him, so he has instant impact. In the old days, campaigns put out news releases. Now, many follow Trump’s lead by tweeting their pronouncements instead. If you like to see complex national issues distilled to 140 characters or less, this is real progress.
Politics Should Be Anti-Political
Ironically, the celebrity celebrated as a non-politician may be the most adroit politician running. That’s not something Trump would want said during the GOP nomination race. But if he’s elected president, that might be a boast he makes in his inaugural address. “Some say I’m the greatest politician ever. That’s what the polls said on Election Day! Who am I to disagree?”
Todd Domke is a Republican political analyst and a regular contributor to WBUR Politicker.
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