Donald Trump

Pundits say it’s a new, bipartisan era for Donald Trump. Are they high?

There’s a new narrative in the air intoxicating the Washington media elite: President Donald Trump is not a Democrat or a Republican. He is an independent, scuttling all party loyalty in the White House.

Navigating the corridors of pundit groupthink, you can practically touch and taste it. It is convenient and reassuring, proudly neglecting recent history. And it’s great for retweets.

“In spirit, Pres. Trump isn’t a Democrat or a Republican. He’s a freewheeling, transactional pol who looks for wins,” tweeted The Washington Post’s Robert Costa in September.

Echoing his media colleague, The New York Times’ Peter Baker tweeted, “In some ways, Trump is the first independent to serve as president in modern times.”

“Trump the independent,” The Associated Press chimed in. “The deal President Trump cut with Democrats seem to show a different kind of president.”

And so we have it: Since Trump cut a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and now appears to be collaborating with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi again to find a way, legislatively, to carve out a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, he is officially a freewheeling nonpartisan. He is neither Democrat nor Republican. He is the mythical independent, here at last, beholden to nothing but his own gut instinct.

Except that’s not what’s really happening.

RELATED: Why does the left hate Donald Trump so much?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Trump is not your typical Republican. He violated long-held GOP orthodoxies to win the Republican nomination. He is a former registered Democrat who has donated heavily to Democratic politicians. No one in the Republican establishment wanted him to win the party’s nomination, and he seized it anyway, rather easily.

So, taking all of that into consideration, Trump is still (with very few exceptions) governing like a very conservative Republican. He has assembled the wealthiest and most conservative Cabinet in recent memory. He has appointed Neil Gorsuch, a constitutional originalist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to the U.S. Supreme Court, doing such a mitzvah for the hardline conservative cause that most complaints about his Democratic flirtations should be taken with a grain of salt.

His vice president is Mike Pence, whose politics are so retrograde conservative that he doesn’t want his wife dining with men alone. His attorney general is Jeff Sessions, a man who seeks to crush a criminal justice reform movement that was actually attracting a modicum of bipartisan support, unlike most every other issue in this country. His Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, does not believe in man-made climate change, and hopes to eventually end the very mission of the agency itself – environmental regulation. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a billionaire opposed to the very nature of public school education in America.

Trump’s tax plan, which couldn’t have been written better by the Koch brothers themselves, is redistributionist in all the worst ways by drastically cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. None of Trump’s working-class supporters will benefit.

And then, of course, there is health care. It’s remarkable the same Washington journalists who have covered Trump’s ceaseless quest to shred and destroy the Affordable Care Act can also walk away thinking this man is not a right-wing Republican extraordinaire. Trump, the supposed independent allegedly beholden to no party, is happy to do the bidding of party leaders by slashing Medicaid and overall coverage for the sickest and most needy people.

The latest iteration of this health care disaster, pushed by U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would’ve thrown block grants for health care at individual states and hoped for the best. It was a nonsensical approach that, thankfully, has been temporarily shelved after failing to garner enough votes. Naturally, it had Trump’s blessing.

RELATED: Dems desparately need a direction besides "not Trump"

No flickering moments of bipartisanship can undo this record. They won’t change Trump’s predilection for stoking white nationalist fury. They won’t change the fundamental reality for so many that live in fear of what Trump will try to do next.

Yet journalists and pundits, caught chiefly in the New York-D.C. vortex, are willfully blind to this. For them, politics is a game, like taking in the Washington Nationals or Redskins on a Sunday afternoon. There are winners and losers, but these pundit-reporters aren’t on the field of play. They are fans, observing passionately, thrilled by the competition. No matter what, they can go home and eat at night. After all, they have health coverage.

No regular person seriously believes Trump is an independent, willing to dole out goodies to the right and left equally. A Muslim immigrant, a criminal justice reform advocate, an environmental activist, a person with pre-existing conditions clinging to health insurance – for these kinds of people, the pronouncements of the pundit class must read like insanity. They know exactly who he is.

And for conservatives fretting that Trump is too mercurial, too unreliable, unwilling to toe the Paul Ryan-Mitch McConnell party line, they should look to the evidence. They should be heartened.

Donald Trump, the record shows, is their man. 

Ross Barkan writes a monthly column on the Trump administration for City & State. His work has appeared in the New York Observer, Village Voice, The Daily Beast, Salon, Harvard Review and more.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.