Presidential candidates usually moderate their positions after they win the party primaries. The message designed to gain the support of a base that holds on strongly to ideology begins to soften to appeal the general electorate, who are usually closer to the center of the political spectrum and reject extreme positions.
That is what the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to be seeking with his recent change of mind regarding immigration and Muslims. The turn is surprising because his proposals for massive deportation of undocumented people and ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. have been important pillars of the discourse of resentment he espouses, one that has strongly resonated among the white, nationalistic and frustrated Republican base. Every time the magnate has repeated such ideas, his polls have gone up among supporters, and dropped among the general electorate.
Now, Trump says that he only wants to deport the “bad dudes,” after spending almost a year spewing out reckless, hateful rhetoric in which he called Mexicans “rapists,” and exploiting every existing case of an undocumented person committing a murder. Today, the millionaire is saying that he wants something similar to Obama’s policy of only going after dangerous undocumented people, even after he has spent a long time promoting the ideas of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on immigration.
The same goes for his views on Muslims. Even though he has said at nauseam that he will ban anyone who professes that religion from entering the U.S., he now says that the prohibition only applies to “terror states.” There is no explanation on which countries he considers to be among those, or how he plans to identify who is Muslim and who is not.
This follows a strategy of contradiction and confusing positions to have everyone on their side. He did the same with abortion and with the fight against terrorism, among other topics. Despite his intentions, it will be very hard for Latinos and many other voters to forget the hatred and resentment he has brought.
A candidate’s change in posture always leaves voters wondering what the person’s real views are. With Trump, it is harder to tell because he says whatever is convenient to him at the moment, and his “ideology” consists only of winning at any cost. However, voters should not let him trick them, as he has already shown an outrageous lack of humanity and an unlimited capacity to exploit the fear of immigrants for his own benefit.