Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trump is a mostly empty vessel and that is the biggest scandal of all

Honestly, the biggest criticism of Trump should be the fact that he has not made his policies clear on almost every topic. His stupid racism is important and I understand why the press would have a hard time not being drawn to whatever dumb thing he says, or the crazy shit that his campaign people keep saying. But ideally these elections are supposed to be about policy. One candidate says she will do X, Y, and Z, and the other candidate says he will do A, B, and C, and then the people vote to decide what direction the country goes by putting one of those candidates in charge. That's the theory behind using elections to choose our leaders.

Various scandals and issues of character are really just a proxy for policy. To the extent they are relevant at all, they are supposedly relevant because they tell us something about what kind of actions the candidate would take if he or she were in office. Those factors about a candidate really should be secondary. The policies that a candidate publicly announces are a better predictor of what that candidate will do than any insight you can get when they unintentionally say something stupid.

But for some reason, the political press is almost completely uninterested in what the candidates have to say about policy. Hillary Clinton has made a ton of policy statements. She has actual positions on things like health care, taxes, the environment, labor issues, criminal justice reform, economic development, gun violence, women's rights, etc. Her campaign web site gives concrete policy positions on almost everything, and the candidate talks about this stuff on a daily basis. But that stuff is almost completely absent from the news coverage of her campaign.

Donald Trump's campaign web site gives the candidate's positions on seven issues, and two of those seven overlap substantially with others on the list, so really he is only giving his position on just five things (The "Pay for the Wall" issue is also part of "Immigration Reform", and "U.S.-China Trade Reform"  is part of "Economic Vision" because a key plank of Trump's "Economic Revision" is "Trade Reform"). Trump almost never discusses actual policies on the stump, and when he does his thoughts are muddled and incomplete.

That fact should be the biggest Trump scandal of all. He has been running for president for more than a year and he has said very little about what his specific policies would be if elected.