Tag Archives: ideology

On a number of issues, Trump sounds like a Democrat

As he tries to charm Republicans still skeptical of his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump has a challenge: On several key issues, he sounds an awful lot like a Democrat.

And on some points of policy, such as trade and national defense, the billionaire businessman could even find himself running to the left of Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic rival in the general election.

Trump is a classic Republican in many ways. He rails against environmental and corporate regulations, proposes dramatically lower tax rates and holds firm on opposing abortion rights. But the presumptive GOP nominee doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional ideological box.

“I think I’m running on common sense,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I think I’m running on what’s right. I don’t think in terms of labels.”

Perhaps Trump’s clearest break with Republican orthodoxy is on trade, which the party’s 2012 platform said was “crucial for our economy” and a path to “more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living.”

Trump says his views on trade are “not really different” from the rest of his party’s, yet he pledges to rip up existing deals negotiated by “stupid leaders” who failed to put American workers first. He regularly slams the North American Free Trade Agreement involving the U.S, Mexico and Canada, and opposes a pending Asia-Pacific pact, positions shared by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

“The problem is the ideologues, the very conservative group, would say everything has to be totally free trade,” Trump said. “But you can’t have free trade if the deals are going to be bad. And that’s what we have.”

Trump long has maintained that he has no plans to scale back Social Security benefits or raise its qualifying retirement age. The position puts him in line with Clinton. She has said she would “defend and expand” Social Security, has ruled out a higher retirement age and opposes reductions in cost-of-living adjustments or other benefits.

“There is tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, but I’m leaving it the way it is,” Trump recently told Fox Business Network.

It’s a stance at odds with the country’s top-ranked elected Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who has advocated fundamental changes to Social Security and other entitlement programs. But it’s also one that Trump argues keeps him in line with the wishes of most voters.

“Remember the wheelchair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your vice president?” Trump told South Carolina voters this year, referring to then-vice presidential candidate Ryan’s budget plan. “That was the end of that campaign.” Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.

Complicating the efforts to define Trump is his penchant for offering contradictory ideas about policy. He also has taken recently to saying that all of his plans are merely suggestions, open to later negotiation.

Trump’s tax plan, for instance, released last fall, called for lowering the rate paid by the wealthiest people in the United States from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Trump described it as a massive boon for the middle class. Outside experts concluded it disproportionately benefited the rich and would balloon the federal deficit.

Close to clinching the nomination, Trump now appears to be pulling away from his own proposal. While he still wants to lower taxes for the wealthy and businesses, he now says his plan was just a starting point for discussions and he would like to see the middle class benefit more from whatever changes he seeks in tax law.

“We have to go to Congress, we have to go to the Senate, we have to go to our congressmen and women and we have to negotiate a deal,” Trump said recently. “So it really is a proposal, but it’s a very steep proposal.”

Trump has a similar take on the minimum wage. Trump said at a GOP primary debate that wages are too high, and later made clear that he does not support a federal minimum wage. Yet when speaking about the issue, he says he recognizes the difficulty of surviving on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“I am open to doing something with it,” he told CNN this month.

On foreign policy, Trump already appears working to paint Clinton as a national security hawk who would too easily the lead the country into conflict.

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump said at a recent rally, He listed the countries where the U.S. had intervened militarily during her tenure as secretary of state and pointed to her vote to authorize the Iraq war while she was in the Senate.

Trump’s own “America First” approach appears to lean more toward isolationism. One of his foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, recently described it as a “third way.”

“This doesn’t fit any of the boxes,” Phares said.

Clinton has advocated using “smart power,” a combination of diplomatic, legal, economic, political and cultural tools to expand American influence. She believes the U.S. has a unique ability to rally the world to defeat international threats.

She argues the country must be an active participant on the world stage, particularly as part of international alliances such as NATO. Trump has criticized the military alliance, questioning a structure that sees the U.S. pay for most of its costs.

“The best thing about Donald Trump today is he’s not Hillary Clinton, but he’s certainly not a conservative, either,” said GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus and a Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 race, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

The great divide: Political partisanship outgrows the voting booth

Political polarization in America has broken out of the voting booth.

A survey from the Pew Research Center finds Americans are divided by ideology and partisanship not only when they cast ballots, but also in choosing where to live, where to get their news and with whom to associate.

And peaceful coexistence is increasingly difficult.

According to the poll, the share of Americans who hold across-the-board conservative or liberal views has doubled in the last decade, from 10 percent in 2004 to 21 percent today. Only 39 percent of Americans have an even mix of liberal and conservative positions, down from 49 percent 10 years ago.

The numbers of ideological purists are larger among the politically engaged than the general public, suggesting the ideological stalemates that have become more common in Washington and statehouses around the country are likely to continue. A third of those who say they regularly vote in primaries have all-or-nothing ideological views, as do 41 percent who say they have donated money to a campaign.

And among partisans, ideological purity is now the standard. Majorities in both parties hold either uniformly liberal (on the Democratic side) or conservative (among the GOP) views.

The shift toward ideological purity has been more visible among Republicans due to the popularity of the tea party, seen most recently this week in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss to a tea party-based challenger in Virginia, but the survey found it’s happening in nearly equal measure among Democrats.

Those differences in visibility are partly due to the Democratic hold on the White House, according to Pew Research Center vice president Michael Dimock.

“Levels of alarm about the direction of the nation, and about the `threat’ the other party poses to the country, are substantially higher on the right than on the left right now, and at least in part this reflects the fact that Barack Obama is in the White House,” Dimock said.

But Democrats have expressed their share of distrust in the past, he noted in an email. “Democrats felt pretty passionately about George W. Bush and the GOP in his second term,” he said.

The survey used a battery of 10 questions on issues such as regulation of business, use of the military, the environment and immigration to assess ideological leanings. Across nine of the 10 issues tested, the views of Democrats and Republicans have grown further apart since 1994.

These ideological shifts have been accompanied by increasing animosity across party lines, and those on opposite sides of the partisan and ideological divide are now more apt to separate themselves in their personal lives as well.

About 8 in 10 Democrats say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, and for 82 percent of Republicans, the feeling is mutual. This cross-party dislike has increased by double digits on both sides.

Among those with ideologically consistent views in each party, many go further than dislike and say they see the other side as a threat to the nation’s well-being. Republicans with consistently conservative views are more apt than Democrats with a strictly liberal view to see the opposite party as a threat, however, 66 percent to 50 percent.

Amid all this rancor, partisans and those with clear ideological leanings are more often choosing to associate only with those who hold views similar to their own. Two-thirds of consistent conservatives and half of consistent liberals say most of their close friends share their political views. Three in 10 on each side of the divide say it’s important to them to live in a place where most people share their political views.

And one-quarter of consistent liberals say they’d be unhappy if an immediate family member married a Republican, 30 percent of consistent conservatives say the same about a union with a Democrat.

The findings are based on a telephone survey of 10,013 randomly selected adults nationwide, conducted between Jan. 23 and March 16. Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

On the Web…

Pew Research Center: HTTP://WWW.PEWRESEARCH.ORG

Vatican ambassador: U.S. bishops should not preach ideology

The Vatican ambassador to the U.S., addressing American bishops at their first national meeting since Pope Francis was elected, said this week they should not “follow a particular ideology” and should make Roman Catholics feel more welcome in church.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano noted the challenges from broader society to Christian teaching. He cautioned that the bishops’ witness to faith would be undermined if they failed to live simply. Francis, in office for eight months, has captured attention for eschewing some of the pomp of the papacy, including his decision to live in the Vatican hotel and his use of an economy car.

“There has to be a noticeable lifestyle characterized by simplicity and holiness of life. This is a sure way to bring our people to an awareness of the truth of our message,” said Vigano, the apostolic nuncio based in Washington.

“The Holy Father wants bishops in tune with their people,” Vigano said, noting that he visited the pope in June. “He made a special point of saying that he wants pastoral bishops, not bishops who profess or follow a particular ideology.”

In a September interview, Francis said Catholic leaders should give greater emphasis to compassion and mercy, arguing the church’s focus on abortion, marriage and contraception has been too narrow and alienating. For the last several years, the public sessions of the fall bishops’ assembly have centered on those hot-button social issues. This year’s meeting gave the first glimpse of how that message was resonating among American leaders.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, dedicated his speech to persecuted Christians overseas, asking the bishops to make international religious freedom a top priority. 

Dozens of Catholic charities and dioceses, along with evangelical colleges and others, are suing the Obama administration over a requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage. The bishops say the religious exemption to the rule violates the religious freedom of nonprofit and for-profit employers. The issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Dolan said in a news conference his speech was not a shift away from that fight – but an expansion of it. “It’s almost raised our consciousness to say we can’t stop here,” Dolan said.

But Mathew Schmalz, religious studies professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., said highlighting the fight with the Obama administration would be seen as out of step with Francis’ message, especially at a time when the Vatican is moving away from a European focus. Francis is the first pope from Latin America.

“The bishops realize that they themselves are going to have to change their tone if they are to become more inclusive and complement the new tone coming from Pope Francis and the Vatican,” Schmalz said. “There is definitely something going on here: The American hierarchy is going to have to change its style or be left behind.”

The bishops had early in the meeting prayed for the thousands of victims of Friday’s typhoon in the Philippines and also discussed the response to the disaster by Catholic Relief Services, the bishops’ international relief agency.

But after a presentation on overall priorities of the U.S. bishops, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, a former president of the conference, rose to say it was “missing this essential element” of a focus on the poor.

“It would help our conference be on record as trying to achieve what Pope Francis has put before us,” said Fiorenza, who retired as archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas.

Bishops also discussed how they would collect the information the Vatican is seeking ahead of a major meeting, or synod, on the family in Rome next year.

Last month, Vatican officials sent a survey to the national bishops conferences that took the unusual step of seeking broad input on how parishes deal with sensitive issues such as birth control, divorce and gay marriage. Bishops in England have put the questionnaire on the web for parishioners to respond. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said he planned to post the survey online within days.

Dolan is at the end of this three-year term as conference president. His successor will be elected today (Nov. 12), the final day of the public part of the meeting.