Now that Donald Trump has selected a running mate, and that unfortunate campaign logo is gone, the final run-up to the November ballot can begin. Here's a question, sensibly raised by political observers in this strangest of presidential elections: Just how liberal is the Republican nominee?
As Tim Pool explains in today's Seeker Daily dispatch, many consider the question to be essentially unanswerable. As a populist candidate, Trump tends to say what people want to hear. His public policy stances are extremely, hmm ... inconsistent is the polite term. And because he has no experience as an elected official or lawmaker, we can't go by his voting record, either.
What we do know is that Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 through 2009. As recently as 2011, he changed his party preference to "unaffiliated" before switching back to run for president as a Republican.
Trump has also donated a good deal of money to Democratic candidates and causes. As of 2011, he had donated nearly half a million dollars to Democrats in New York state campaigns. He even donated to Hillary Clinton four separate times between 2002 and 2007.
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As to his public statements on traditional liberal policies, Trump has openly supported the idea of universal healthcare. But he's also called the Affordable Care Act a "disaster," even though he kinda-sorta helped to make it the law of the land.
One area in which Trump has been relatively consistent is LGBT issues. He's been vocally supportive of gay rights throughout his career as an occasional seeker of public office. Of the North Carolina transgender bathroom debate, Trump took a refreshingly straightforward approach, saying that individuals should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate." Trump has even supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
On the other hand, in regard to issues like immigration and defense, Trump has been regularly accused of holding extreme right-wing views, with some even calling him a fascist -- you can read more about that here.
The bottom line is that Trump is rarely held accountable for his political views, and his supporters don't seem to mind. This allows him to shift his opinion depending on the political wind. He may have liberal leanings today on health care and LGBT issues, but tomorrow -- who knows?
-- Glenn McDonald
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