In true conservative style, Donald Trump’s views and politics have remained the same in the last four decades. The only thing that has changed is his delivery.
Judging from old interviews, it is clear to see how Trump has gone from a business and entertainment legend – a television person speaking in a similar manner to other television people, and generally about television people, to a legendary, larger-than-life figure addressing real people. His rhetoric in his younger days was smoother and more fluid; he was a different cat then, a calmer cat. But the context was also very different, while the content has barely changed.
In an interview with Larry King in 1987, he criticized US foreign policy, specifically its mismanagement of funds and subsequent high deficit at the expense of American farmers, the poor, the sick and the homeless. This was an honest man, talking to an honest host about honest and serious matters.
Fast forward to today, he continues to repeat many of the same things but in the manner of an angry frustrated older man. This is to be expected, since by his own admission he only went into politics because he was angry: angry with corruption and with unnecessary and expensive foreign interventions. One could accuse Trump of many things, and indeed he has been, but inconsistency is not one of them. And for that alone, he deserves respect, especially since many politicians have proved notoriously inconsistent from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton and most recently Barack Obama.
The thing about Trump is that he is a polymath at heart. He could have easily been a full time entertainer, Hollywood executive, or Wall street CEO. But he is not a seedy Wall Street type, he does not share the same servile, self-serving disposition as many of those people do. He is not, despite his wealth, a member of that particular elite. And he is much too principled to dedicate himself to a lifetime of mindless entertainment.
Donald Trump builds things, from high towers to modest residential properties and he is proud of both. He is a very expressive man who can’t help gesticulating, shouts when angry, laughs when amused, taunts when attacked, so much so that he often reminds me of a cantankerous but well-meaning Balkan grandmother. And much like a worn-out Balkan granny, he has a great deal to be pissed off about.
And it is precisely his colloquial manner, the authentic display of who he is warts and all, that has warmed many to him, and alienated those who believe all Presidents ought to sound and act like Barack Obama. This dichotomy is increasingly less about his politics, and more about who he happens to be. Many of those who initially hated his policies, are now more or less indifferent to them and more obsessed with his apparent flaws helping therefore to elevate his status from a mere right-wing oligarch in their eyes to someone who transcends politics and social norms, objectively speaking. His politics are therefore largely irrelevant at this stage, he could well have been a Democrat and some his opponents might have hated him just as much.
But he has touched many ordinary people. His romanticism is growing, and he will likely be remembered in the same way JFK is remembered: with fondness and nostalgia. Many would happily sit with Donald Trump hoping to share a laugh, or better still, a good bitch and moan. Ultimately, what most people truly want is a solid listening ear.