If you just beamed onto planet earth, you probably were shocked to learn that New Yorker Donald Trump, a celebrity entrepreneur, is the Republican presidential nominee. Here's what you need to know about him.
Trump is an ultra-nationalist. To a degree not seen since GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, Trump touts nationalism. One of his campaign themes is "America First," last used by isolationists in the run-up to WWII.
Trump's nationalism has five parts. First, he lauds the military and claims Obama has weakened it -- he hasn't; Trump plans to spend an unspecified amount to strengthen it. Second, Trump claims that Obama and Hillary Clinton have humiliated America -- he touts Benghazi as one example of this. Third, Trump preaches a form of economic isolationism, where the US would leave trade partnerships such as NAFTA, and impose tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico. (Trump has also mused about leaving defense partnerships, such as NATO.)
Fourth, Trump is against immigration. He plans "to build a great, great wall on our southern border" and "have Mexico pay for the wall." Further, Trump has called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Fifth, coupled with his anti-immigration stance, Trump has flirted with overt racism. He's routinely re-tweeted tweets of white supremacists and suggested that President Obama has Muslim sympathies.
Another of Trump's campaign themes is "Law and Order;" resurrected from Richard Nixon's presidential campaign. Trump acknowledged this connection: "I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first. The '60s were bad, really bad. And it's really bad now. Americans feel like it's chaos again." "I am the Law and Order candidate."
Trump is an independent running as a Republican. For the GOP, Trump is the ultimate alien invader. As recently as 2009,Trump was a Democrat. In 2012 he reregistered as a Republican and, beginning in 2015, managed to convince GOP primary voters that he was one of them. Trump accomplished this by campaigning as the ultimate outsider, promising to self-finance his campaign -- a promise that he dropped, once he secured the GOP nomination. Trump has tacitly accepted the social conservative bias of the Republican base -- he was once pro-choice but now, like most Republicans, is pro-life.
Trump has adopted many mainstream GOP policies. He promises to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a "marketplace alternative." He also promises to cut taxes, reduce the Federal deficit, and protect Social Security. (These claims are contradictory.) He promises to "renegotiate" the Iran agreement signed with China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States -- even though this would require agreement with our allies.
Nonetheless, Trump has not secured the endorsement of many prominent Republicans such as Senator Ted Cruz, Governor John Kasich, and the Bush family.
Trump is a loose cannon. Writing in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik proclaimed: "Trump is unstable, a liar, narcissistic, contemptuous of the basic norms of political life, and deeply embedded among the most paranoid and irrational of conspiracy theorists."