Donald Trump once famously said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters. While he has not gunned anyone down on the streets of Manhattan, his campaign-wide pivot of the last week is the metaphorical equivalent of that.
Trump rose to prominence through stream of consciousness rants, attacks on immigrants, and insults hurled willy nilly at everyone from the Pope to crying babies. He mocked the use of Teleprompters, dismissed competitors who relied on corporate campaign donors, and did not spend a dime on polling. He was going to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. He retweeted images posted by anti-semites and feigned ignorance of David Duke.
And all of that was leading him to what was going to be the worst electoral loss in a generation. Trump said he was going to put non-traditional states in play, and it turns out he has – except instead of Democratic strongholds like Wisconsin or Michigan, his singularly awful campaign has given Hillary Clinton openings in Georgia, Arizona, and Missouri.
So Trump has metaphorically taken out that gun and pulled the trigger. His campaign is now run by a pollster who feeds him lines he reads off a Teleprompter. He raises millions of dollars from big ticket contributors at the same closed-door fundraisers who once derided. He has uttered words of conciliation (without specific targets of apology) while claiming sudden interest in the plight of poor African-Americans and Hispanics. Most amazingly, that big wall he was going to build and that deportation force he was going to amass to round up all those awful “illegals” have been replaced with nods to "softening" language and letting people stay in the country if they have been law abiding and tax paying – ideas he once ridiculed.
In short, he is daring his most ardent supporters to rescind their support by disclaiming everything they liked about him and hold dear. He is relying on them to maintain their belief that he is uttering these poll-tested lines because that is what he needs to do to win. That it is ok if he reads off the dreaded Teleprompter. That it does not matter if he is no longer self-funding his campaign and is accepting money from monied interests, because deep down, he still believes Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers, that all Muslims should be banned from visiting America, that Second Amendment people may need to get involved if Hillary appoints Supreme Court justices, and that he alone can make America great again (for white people).
Donald Trump has become what he once mocked. He has become a politician, and a bad one at that.
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