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Donald Trump’s Immigration Flip Flop

Trump Debate

Following through on something that’s been hinted at for the better part of a week now, Donald Trump appears to have significantly changed position on a major part of his immigration policy with just seventy-five days left to go before Election Day:

In what would be a stunning reversal on an issue central to his candidacy, Donald Trump floated a possible process to allow undocumented immigrants to remain in America in a town hall that aired Wednesday.

“No citizenship,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview taped Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas. “Let me go a step further — they’ll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there’s no amnesty, as such, there’s no amnesty, but we work with them.”

Trump said he was moved by concerns from fans who opposed his previous calls for a “deportation force” to remove all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

“When I look at the rooms and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out,” Trump said. “But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject…they’ve said, Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump.”

While Trump’s comments on legalization were inconsistent in the years leading up to his presidential run, he maintained during the primaries that all undocumented immigrants must be removed throughout his campaign.

At one point he proposed expelling all 11 million undocumented immigrants within two years — a goal that experts say would require a brutal and expansive deportation regime to carry out.

But Trump has a tendency to flip flop on policies, sometimes issuing detailed white papers only to contradict them in public or abandon them entirely later on. He recently disavowed a tax plan he released earlier in the race and is currently hedging on whether his plan to ban all Muslim travel, a signature campaign proposal that is still on his website, remains his current position.

He sounded unsure of his own immigration position on Tuesday, at one point turning to the audience to survey them on the issue.

“Look, this is like a poll, there’s thousands of people in this room,” Trump said. “Who wants those people thrown out?”

He later asked “Who does not want them thrown out?” and concluded “there weren’t that many for the number two, but the few people that stood up, I get that.”

But while Trump fell far short of making any concrete pronouncement, his open discomfort with his prior call to remove all undocumented immigrants and not just “bad ones” who committed serious crimes was a jarring shift for a candidate who had outflanked 16 Republican rivals on the issue during the primaries.

The “back taxes” line in particular leapt out to observers. A common plank of various immigration reform proposals to provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants is a requirement that they pay back taxes in the process.

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill that passed the Senate in 2013 before dying in the House included such a provision in addition to requirements that qualifying immigrants pass a criminal background check, learn English, and live in the country on a trial basis for 10 years before becoming a permanent resident and eventual citizen.

Trump’s “no citizenship” pledge, while counter to the “Gang of Eight” bill, nonetheless echoed other immigration proposals from other Republicans that Trump had explicitly denounced as “amnesty” for entertaining legal status for some undocumented immigrants.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for example, co-authored a book outlining an immigration reform plan that would grant earned legal status to undocumented immigrants but permanently bar them from citizenship. Texas Senator Ted Cruz also floated a possible compromise involving legal status short of citizenship during the 2013 immigration debate. While Cruz later renounced the idea and denied having seriously considered it in the first place, Trump attacked him over the proposal without hesitation.

“Ted was in favor of amnesty,” Trump told CNN shortly before the Iowa caucus earlier this year.

Any move by Trump towards legalization would risk alienating his more hardline supporters. At outlets like Breitbart, whose president Steve Bannon recently took over as CEO of Trump’s campaign, Republicans who support a path to legal status are frequently attacked as “amnesty” supporters who sold out the conservative base. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, one of Trump’s closest advisers, is also a leading opponent of such efforts.

“There’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven,” Trump supporter Ann Coulter wrote in her new book “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome.” “Except change his immigration policies.”

As noted, there isn’t very much difference between the position that Trump suggested last night and those taken by Republicans that he spent the better part of the past year bashing during his campaign for the Republican nomination. At various times Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz, just two name three such candidates, have all advocated an immigration proposal remarkably similar to what Trump is now saying he could support. In some cases, such as Rubio’s support for the 2013 Senate immigration bill, Trump doesn’t go quite as far because he says he wouldn’t allow any of the 11 million people here illegally to become citizens (although who’s to say he wouldn’t change position on that question in the future too?). In others, though, there are almost no differences between what Trump is talking about now and what he was criticizing just a few months ago. Jeb Bush, for example, finally settled on a reform plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to legalize themselves as long they did not have violent criminal records and paid back taxes, but which would have foreclosed them from becoming citizens in the future. During the debate over the 2013 plan in the Senate, Ted Cruz proposed a similar plan although he ultimately abandoned it and later claimed that he only proposed the plan as part of a legislative tactic to try to block the Senate from voting on the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’ plan. Immigration proposals put forward by other candidates had similar positions, and Trump’s position isn’t all that different from the immigration reform plan that Hillary Clinton has outlined during the course of her campaign. Now, Trump appears to be saying that he’s ready to change position himself, adopt the position of his opponents on how to deal with the people in the United States illegally after spending the better part of a year talking about how they would be required to leave the country, and to try to convince people who previously opposed him to change their minds and back the “new” Donald Trump.

Voters would be foolish to accept this change at face value, though.

First of all, one has to recognize that this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. Not only can’t we assume that he’s actually serious about making such a drastic change to something that has been a central tenet of his campaign from the day he announced until he makes it, but there’s no real guarantee that he won’t change his mind before Election Day. Heck, there’s no guarantee he won’t change his mind before lunch time today, especially if it seems apparent that his base supporters are reacting negatively to the idea that their hero might be “going soft” on the issue. Additionally, the meat of Trump’s plan is fundamentally flawed in several significant respects, most notably the idea that the group of people we’re talking about should be permanently barred from becoming citizens. As I’ve noted in the past, that would essentially mean creating an underclass of immigrants who would be saying in advance could never be “real Americans.” That’s an attitude utterly incompatible with the way we’ve treated immigrants, documented and undocumented, in the past.

Additionally, as Politico’s Sarah Wheaton and Tyler Pager note, much of what he’s talking about now doesn’t really make much sense:

Donald Trump may be “softening” his incendiary language on immigration, but those versed in the complexities of immigration law say his plan has gone from unrealistic to downright incomprehensible.

Trump’s campaign insists that he hasn’t changed his views. But as the Republican nominee ramps up his outreach to minorities, his latest talk on immigration has created a muddled mess, with Trump insisting in one breath that he’s open to “softening” laws that deal with undocumented immigrants, and pledging to be “100 percent” behind his wall in the next.

(…)

“We’ve followed every candidate over the last year-and-a-half and he’s definitely the most difficult to pin down exactly what he’s meaning at times,” said NumbersUSA executive director Roy Beck. The group pushes for stricter immigration laws, and Trump’s “revisions and new information raises some concerns about where he’s headed.”

Beck said there’s “no sign,” however, that Trump is moving toward offering work permits to the millions of undocumented immigrants currently here.

And that’s another flaw in Trump’s proposed revised “plan.” If you can’t ever become a citizen and you wouldn’t be able to work here legally, then what incentive would someone who is here illegally have to turn themselves in and comply with the provisions that would lead to their legalization? Additionally, if they do comply with those steps, then why shouldn’t they be permitted to work in the United States? These are only some of the problems with the revised plan that Trump is talking about.

The real question, of course, is what impact Trump’s change in position, assuming it is for real, would have on the election, which really involves two questions. The first, of course, is what impact such a change will have on Trump’s die hard supporters who have been part of the campaign from the beginning. Already, we’ve seen some conservative commentators who have spoken positively of Trump in the past, such as Mark Levin and Ann Coulter, react quite negatively to last night’s developments. Whether that would be true of the mass of supporters out there is unclear, although interviews with people who were in the audience for last night’s “town hall” event with Sean Hannity seem to indicate that these people are so far in the tank for Trump that it doesn’t seem to matter that he’s changed position on one of the central elements of his campaign. That, of course, is the sign of a cult of personality, which is a danger in and of itself. The second question is whether a change this late in the campaign would cause voters who have rejected Trump up until now to change their mind. While we won’t know the answer to that question unless and until Trump actually announces this as new policy and wait to see what impact it has on the race, my guess is that a change like this isn’t going to have much impact on people on who are already strongly negative on Trump. For them, a year of anti-immigrant rhetoric isn’t going to be changed by one speech, especially since it’s common knowledge that Trump is just as likely to jump back to his old position as he is to stick with the new one.

If nothing else, fishing for a new position this late in the campaign is yet another example of how the Trump campaign is grasping at straws trying to stop a slide in the polls that threatens to turn the Presidential election into a fait accompli long before November 8th. Whether it succeeds or not remains to be seen.

Update: Morning Joe had a great closing video this morning showing the “evolution” of Trump’s immigration views:

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    The really hilarious part is that Trump flip-flopped on the very day Coulter’s new book, In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! was launched. She’s having a total meltdown on Twitter.

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  2. PJ says:

    Taxation without representation.

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  3. Hal_10000 says:

    @CSK:

    I was about to say that. It’s so beautiful! If Trump did this just to mess with Coulter, I may have to reassess my opinion of the man. That’s A+ trolling.

    Here’s the problem for Trump. He’s tacking toward the center, which almost all politicians do between the primary and the general. The problem is that with someone like Romney or McCain or Obama or Clinton, they can get away with that. The base will see it as politics and stay. And the non-political junkies who inhabit the center will be only vaguely aware of their earlier position.

    But with Trump, he is very well known already. His “build a wall” has been the defining element of his campaign. Are latinos or liberals or even pro-immigration libertarian/conservatives like me going to be fooled? I don’t think so. And he might lose some of the hard anti-immigration supporters who have been his base (although most will probably stick; this is a Cult of Personality thing) Maybe it will help him stave off disaster. But when it comes to Trump’s positions on the issues alea iacta est. It’s too late for him to pretend he’s something other than what he is.

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  4. CB says:

    The reaction from (most) of his diehards? We have always been at war with Eastasia in favor of immigration reform.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    I think it will help him. It lowers the disgust level a notch or two for the benefit of educated white voters who are racists and misogynists but need their traditional Republican deniability.

    His base of support won’t care. They’ve gone all-in on the cult of personality.

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  6. Hal_10000 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah, it does mean they don’t have to hold their nose quite as hard. It’s like his “outreach” to black voters. It’s not really about reaching out to black voters; it’s about making white voters more comfortable with him.

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  7. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:

    it’s about making white voters more comfortable with him.

    Right…because he is losing Republicans. He’s making a play to just to rise to the level of support Romney had…not expand that support.
    77 days out from the election and he doesn’t have a coherent policy in what is his central issue.
    Two of his biggest selling points are his business skills and that he’s a winner. Well he can’t manage his own campaign, much less a country…and he’s losing badly.

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  8. SenyorDave says:

    I don’t think it will help or hurt him in any meaningful way. The people who like Trump will like him no matter what. They have already gone all in on this supposed crack businessman who cares about the middle class, despite making a career of scamming and cheating middle class businesses.

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  9. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    @michael reynolds:

    Indeed. Over the past week or so, it’s become increasingly obvious that the diehard Trumpkins aren’t enamored of the man’s positions, which change from day to day, but the man himself. I’d always thought his vulgarity, buffoonery, ignorance, bigotry, and authoritarianism were a large part of his appeal to his fans, but now I see that those qualities may be all of his appeal.

    Coulter’s apparently threatening to cancel her book tour. Maybe she’ll sue Trump for breach of promise.

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  10. MarkedMan says:

    I think it may hurt him with his base a bit, at least in turnout, but not because of the flip flopping. My impression is that a good part of Trump’s base doesn’t really register what he says but only how he says it. In this flip flop though he is trying to sound reasonable and fair. That’s not what that segment of his base are looking for.

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  11. al-Alameda says:

    Last evening I watched excerpts of the Hannity/Trump affirmation fest, and although it was very greasy and cringe-y, the fact remains, Trump is the “look, I don’t care if he sleeps with illegal North Korean sheep, he’s not Hillary” candidate so his supporters are fine with almost anything he says.

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  12. Tyrell says:

    I am not sure that the immigration issue is that big of an issue now. As far as ISIS getting in, these attacks of the last few years have been from people who are already here. It could be that these terrorists are programmed some how and then set into motion by some signal or something. The big issues are not discussed: the coming health insurance crisis (huge rate increases and companies leaving the government health exchanges), the debt problem, Europe in decline, and the Iran* – Turkey – Russia alliance (what gives with that ?)
    * News: Iran gunboats intercept and fire on the US Navy ! (Admiral Halsey – we need you !)

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  13. SenyorDave says:

    OT, I see a main story on Yahoo is that Clinton plans to go after Trump on the alt-right angle. I think this should be a huge issue, that the Breitbart folks are trying to take over the Republican party. In the case of Breitbart’s people I’ll go full Godwin. I don’t think these people would have any problem with any level of extremism, they are crazy and dangerous. If you don’t think so, ask Leslie Jones, who was subjected to harassment, including death threats, because she dared to be in the Ghostbusters remake and happens to be a successful black female comedienne. The source – some troll named Milo Yiannopoulos who happens to be a staff columnist for Breitbart (and was also an instigator in Gamergate, where female game designers were threatened and harassed because they were female).

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  14. grumpy realist says:

    Trump’s trajectory reminds me of a drunken ant sliding down a corkscrew.

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  15. Tyrell says:

    @SenyorDave: Hillary has to be careful about moving too far to the left or she will find herself sitting in the left field foul section !
    Someone needs to speak up for the American middle class working folks !

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  16. Slugger says:

    I don’t think that Mr. Trump is trying to position himself as a thinker, an intellectual who weighs the positives and negatives of a problem, ponders the situation, and then careful enacts the decision with frequent checkpoints to allow changes if the decision turns out to have unanticipated problems. He believes that the American public would consider such an approach contemptuously. He appeals to “straight-shooters” who do stuff. Build a Wall and Get Mexico to pay for It!
    This has been very successful with many people, but not enough to get elected. So he throws out a bone. This is a common ploy in American politics. To play in our electoral system you have to show a certain flexibility to the people who are not part of your core. Deciding to enter politics is deciding to appeal to a broad spectrum because otherwise you become a Goldwater or a McGovern.

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  17. SenyorDave says:

    @Tyrell: @Tyrell: Going after Bannon, who is in charge of the Breibart site, an openly racist, fascist publication, is moving too far to the left?

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  18. Kylopod says:

    @SenyorDave:

    OT, I see a main story on Yahoo is that Clinton plans to go after Trump on the alt-right angle.

    If she does, she should avoid the term “alt-right” and instead use the term they were universally called until just a couple of years ago: white nationalists.

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  19. john430 says:

    Am “neutral” on Trump but are his comments actually any different than “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” or “it depends on what the definition of “IS” is.

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  20. Tyrell says:

    @SenyorDave: Well, no. She will have to explain what they stand for, not just labeling them “right wingers”. There were and still are Democrats who are on the right (Ervin, Russell, Hollings, Fulbright) in the conservative sense, on some issues.

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  21. Kylopod says:

    @john430:

    but are his comments actually any different than “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” or “it depends on what the definition of “IS” is.

    Yeah, because covering up an extramarital affair or fudging about how much choice people have in medical care can be reasonably compared with a proposal to round up millions of Latinos and kick them out of the country.

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  22. grumpy realist says:

    Dear Lord:

    Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, said on Thursday that her boss hasn’t changed his position on immigration—just “the words he’s saying.”

    Tyrell, going by your nomenclature, “liberal” is anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. Most Americans don’t think the way you do.

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  23. SenyorDave says:

    @Tyrell: Bannon and his ilk aren’t conservatives, they’re bigots. As far as Democrats on the right, there is always a limit to how far you go in trying to attract supporters. Ervin and Russell were lifelong segregationists, people who think like that will support Trump since he is running a white nationalist campaign. I do agree that Hillary will have to actually indicate what her presidency would be about, so far she has sat back and let Trump have his missteps. I think she is smart to mostly run attack ads – research has consistently shown that attack ads work much better than content ads.

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  24. al-Alameda says:

    @john430:

    Am “neutral” on Trump but are his comments actually any different than “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” or “it depends on what the definition of “IS” is.

    Or my favorite example of ambiguity in the use of words:
    “there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
    — Condoleeza Rice (the same words also used by Dick Cheney) in justifying our completely unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003

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  25. C. Clavin says:

    @john430:

    are his comments actually any different than “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” or “it depends on what the definition of “IS” is.

    No…because deporting 3% of the population in 18 months is not that big a deal. If you like economic ruin. Especially when you consider that I still have my same Dr.

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  26. Mu says:

    I think his campaign is testing the waters in how far they can soften the message without alienating his core support. Don’t forget, he new manager is a pollster. Two weeks of backpedaling, a round of polls, two days of analysis – wait for Sep 10 to show if this is a serious effort or a trial balloon.

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  27. bk says:

    @Tyrell: Maybe you could update your references to include people who are alive or still in office.

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  28. Pch101 says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Bannon and his ilk aren’t conservatives, they’re bigots.

    They’re both.

    The essential difference between right and left is that the right favors tradition and heritage, while the left wants change.

    In this culture, racists are usually traditionalists. American racists favor returning to the old ways of doing things that had made their tribe dominant.

    “Making America great again” is a conservative message — it appeals to tradition. And we know the kinds of traditions that these people want.

    Not all conservatives are racists, but most racists are conservative.

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  29. Pch101 says:

    It sounds as if Trump is trying to reduce Democratic turnout, particularly among minorities who might be motivated to vote against him.

    But I doubt that those who are motivated to vote against him for that reason are going to be placated by this. It’s a bit late in the game for this kind of pivoting.

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  30. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    The essential difference between right and left is that the right favors tradition and heritage, while the left wants change.

    I’m in strong agreement with you here, but I’d clarify that it’s not so much that the left wants “change” (the right wants change too, just in a different direction), but that they have a particular interest in reducing inequality.

    I’m not a huge fan of the whole left-right conception of politics, which is in many ways overly simplistic and reductive (it cannot explain, for example, why people identified with the “far right” are frequently less extreme than the “center right” on matters such as the social safety net), but the above seems to be a pretty accurate delineation of the spectrum.

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  31. C. Clavin says:

    Apparently Trump is not on the ballot in Minnesota…and has until Monday to get on it.

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  32. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: I just saw the 1:11 video put out by the Clinton campaign…it starts off with white supremacists, David Duke, and then cuts over to a CNN panelist who defines what “alt-right” is (“racists and a lot of other ‘ists'”) and then cuts to Bannon.

    It was pretty clear, no worries on leaving “alt-right” undefined.

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  33. Gustopher says:

    The two big job creation plans of the Trump Presidency were going to be The Wall, and the Deportation Force*. Does this mean no massive government employment programs based on demonizing a minority? That hardly seems like what the people who voted for him the the primaries were expecting.

    There are certain flip flops that destroy a candidate — Poppy Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” and reversal comes to mind — and this is going to be one. It demonstrates that he is a fraud.

    *I was also looking forward to Deportation Force action figures, and a cartoon.

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  34. Kylopod says:

    @Jen:

    It was pretty clear, no worries on leaving “alt-right” undefined.

    Maybe not in that video, and maybe not in some others, but I’ve been seeing the “alt-right” term thrown around without explanation in the mainstream media for a while now. I’m sure many average viewers have no idea what it means, and frankly the name makes the movement sound cool, almost sexy.

    Parts of the white nationalist crowd have had considerable success in getting their favored code words and euphemisms to seep into the mainstream. This has been going on for at least a few decades. My father remembers how irritated he got when he was watching David Duke interviewed on one of the Sunday programs in the early ’90s, and the host actually began using Duke’s term “European American.”

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  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am not sure that the immigration issue is that big of an issue now.

    No, you’re right: we have always been at war with Eurasia.

    Trump is the idiot’s Jedi, and you’re the one totally buying his mind tricks.

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  36. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yes, the other main distinction between right and left is that the right tends to defend or support social hierarchy, while the left supports more leveling.

    (Incidentally, the origins of right vs. left come from the French national assembly when the monarchists and supporters of the church sat on the right side of the hall, while those who wanted to change the system sat on the left. It’s a standard definition, not one that I conjured up.)

    However, you can end up with some anomalies such as author Jack London, who was a passionate socialist…for white people only. You could fairly describe him as a leftist, but someone with those views wouldn’t be welcome by most leftists today.

    I’m not a huge fan of the whole left-right conception of politics, which is in many ways overly simplistic and reductive (it cannot explain, for example, why people identified with the “far right” are frequently less extreme than the “center right” on matters such as the social safety net…)

    What the right-left axis describes is the motivation for ones political beliefs, not the specific policies that are associated with those beliefs. The policies themselves can and do vary based upon location and timeframe.

    For example, the move to ban assault weapons in Australia was led by John Howard, a conservative politician.* (*To confuse matters, the Australian Liberal Party is a center-right to right-wing party; they are not using the term “liberal” as would Americans, Canadians or Brits.) In Australia, guns are not a left-right issue as they are in the United States. Howard argues that the US should have gun control as a counter-terrorism measure — his views are motivated by conservative notions of law and order.

    Conservatives like to claim that the Nazis were leftists because they had social welfare programs. But the world’s first social security program was created by Bismarck, a conservative German monarchist. (Bismarck was trying to support the industrial revolution by giving workers reasons to remain on the job; he also wanted to keep the Marxists at bay. His goals were conservative — he sought to maintain the status quo social order.) The Nazis were actually maintaining traditions by keeping social welfare programs, unlike the United States were social security demands came from the left. One should not assess policy positions abroad by how they are regarded in the United States or by what those policy positions are today when those views can shift over time.

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  37. JR says:

    @michael reynolds: This. A good portion of GOP voters are racist, but they don’t like to be called racist. So Trump’s over the top racism this cycle is a major turn off to them.

    Idiot should have just stuck to dog whistling and he would have these people’s support.

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  38. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Betcha 5 bucks it doesn’t hurt his poll numbers. His voters don’t care about issues or promises.

    Do you think @Guarneri and @Jenos and @Tyrell and the others will suddenly turn on Trump? Nah. They’ll rationalize and weasel and evade and in the end accept. Then they’ll wallow in Hillary-hate, and nothing will have changed.

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    There are certain flip flops that destroy a candidate — Poppy Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” and reversal comes to mind — and this is going to be one.

    I don’t think Bush was “destroyed” by the no-new-taxes flip flop. It hurt him, certainly, particularly in his own party. But he was an incumbent president forced to deal with a recession that struck on his watch. He was probably doomed no matter what.

    For that matter, there have been countless presidents who have gotten away with egregious flip-flops. FDR ran in 1932 promising to balance the budget, and eight years later he said on the campaign trail “I will not send American boys to fight foreign wars.” The country didn’t punish him for these flip flops because, by and large, they liked the job he did. On a much lesser scale, Obama was hardly punished for flip-flopping on same-sex marriage.

    Flip flops, I suspect, matter a lot less to voters than pundits think. And keep in mind that Trump has been flip flopping pretty incessantly during the entire campaign on a whole host of issues, so it’s not like he’s destroying any reputation he once had for ideological consistency. From what I’ve seen, as I noted a few months ago, his supporters have a way of rationalizing his public disagreements with them by assuming he’s lying when he departs from their views. Ann Coulter notwithstanding, I suspect a lot of them are just going to assume he’s saying this just to get elected but that once in office he’ll proceed with his deportation plans.

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  40. Steve V says:

    @john430: Wait, don’t you consider those statements to be the worst political lies of all time?

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  41. Tom M says:

    @Pch101:
    That’s interesting, I never knew of the origins of the “Left/Right” thing.
    Nice post.

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  42. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: As mentioned before, the best flip-flop ever pulled off was the Meiji Restoration:

    First, convince the samurai class to support you :

    “Trust us! We’ll go back to how wonderful it was at the beginning of the Edo period, when you guys were (financially) on top!”

    ” And we’ll get rid of all contact with the West and kick out Perry and the black ships!”

    Then get into power and do a full 180:

    “Naah, we’re going to have to open Japan to the West and modernize if we want a chance to survive. Sorry, samurai!”

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  43. grumpy realist says:

    The trouble is, if you cater to the crazy, then you get stuff like this happening when you try to pivot to something more realistic.

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  44. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    However, you can end up with some anomalies such as author Jack London, who was a passionate socialist…for white people only.

    I actually think that race in America in a big way runs perpendicular to the left-right axis, and it’s something that blindsides a lot of commentators for that reason. I think actually that it has a lot to do with the rise of Donald Trump. In the conventional scheme, people concerned about economic inequality are supposed to also be progressive on racial issues. A lot of pundits and political junkies failed to notice that there is a large subset of Americans who blame their economic woes on nonwhite “others” stealing their jobs from them, and many of these people never really gave a fig about small-government or low-taxes or any of the other Heritage bromides except as code words for their racial grievances.

    What the right-left axis describes is the motivation for ones political beliefs, not the specific policies that are associated with those beliefs.

    Yes…but “motivations” can sometimes be extremely superficial. The Soviet government always spoke in the language of making society more equal, even when they were defending monstrously unequal policies.

    Conservatives like to claim that the Nazis were leftists because they had social welfare programs.

    Despite my problems with the left-right spectrum, I do find it useful for understanding how society viewed things at various points in history, up to the present day. What interests me is not so much the question of whether the Nazis were leftists or rightists. What’s more important is the fact that they were labeled as rightist almost from their inception, and that’s how they’ve been viewed ever since until the recent conservative revisionist project of Jonah Goldberg and others to redefine them as a left-wing movement.

    What makes it a little confusing is that the terms “left” and “right” didn’t enter the international political lexicon until the 20th century and were still fairly new when the fascist parties started popping up in Europe. Furthermore, at first people on the left were a lot likelier to adopt the left-right conception at all, while right-wingers generally resisted it. Nowadays, of course, Nazis’ successors in the present day are happy to identify as right-wing (the phrase “alt-right” was their invention), but the Jonah Goldbergs of the world haven’t quite caught on. When a neo-Nazi tried to shoot up DC’s Holocaust Museum in 2009, Goldberg claimed the guy wasn’t really right-wing.

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  45. reid says:

    @CSK: Ha, what a title! I would change it to: In Trump We Gump: Alfred E Pluribus! with a picture of Alfred E. Neuman’s face over Trump’s. (I’m harking back to my Mad Magazine years.)

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  46. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    I actually think that race in America in a big way runs perpendicular to the left-right axis

    It doesn’t tie to Democratic vs. Republican party politics. It absolutely runs with tradition — some people really miss Jim Crow. That is a conservative motivation at its heart, i.e. “Make America Great Again“, which is essentially claiming that the old ways were better.

    but “motivations” can sometimes be extremely superficial.

    It doesn’t matter. If most of the rhetoric appeals to the past and/or focuses on asserting tribal supremacy, then it is almost surely coming from the right. (“Deutschland über alles”…Germany isn’t just good, it’s superior to everyone else.)

    If the focus is on a future that isn’t married to the past, then it is almost surely on the left. (“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”…the past is something that we can shed and rise above, not a place where we want to dwell.)

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  47. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu:

    Don’t forget, he new manager is a pollster.

    Who specializes in polling women. Saw a poll a week or two ago that Trump is polling 75% with REPUBLICAN women.

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  48. gVOR08 says:

    I took a look at FOX News’ website this morning, curious to see how they’re treating Trumps flip flop. Not a peep. Redstate, on the other hand, is apoplectic.

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  49. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Um… you do realize that all but one of the guys you mentioned have been out of politics for 40 or more years and that two of them died while I was in university over 35 years ago, right? (The other is 95 BTW…)

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  50. sam says:

    @Tyrell:

    It could be that these terrorists are programmed some how and then set into motion by some signal or something.

    Jesus, now we’ve got to contend with Manchurian Muslims.

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  51. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    “…that would essentially mean creating an underclass of immigrants who would be saying in advance could never be “real Americans.” That’s an attitude utterly incompatible with the way we’ve treated imagine our history on racial matters, and idealize our idea of America, and therefore, our treatment of immigrants, documented and undocumented, in the past.”

    Fixed that for you, Doug. It would be nice if your statement were the accurate one, but not even 20th Century bears that reading of it out.

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  52. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: It does seem to be every 80 years or so we get another panic. First it was the Chinese, then it was the Irish, then it was the Eastern Europeans, now it’s the Mexicans and the Muslims…..

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  53. michael reynolds says:

    @john430:

    Are you seriously asking if there’s a difference between a sales pitch for universal health insurance and a man who:

    1) Won’t release his tax returns and lies about the reason.
    2) Has fleeced students at his bogus university.
    3) Red-lined his properties – keeping black people out.
    4) Was fined 200 grand for pulling his black employees off the floor of his casion whenever a racist client asked him to.
    5) Leered openly at his own daughter.
    6) Released a transparently bogus medical history.
    7) Talked of placing surveillance on all American Muslims?
    8) Invited a hostile foreign power to hack his opponent’s email.
    9) Suggested NRA fans might want to shoot his opponent?
    10) Trashed the parents of a US Army Captain who died in service to his country.

    Seriously. And that’s just the first 10 I thought of. There’s also the fact that he,

    11) Is openly talking of abandoning NATO.
    12) Doesn’t know why Japan shouldn’t bulk up on nukes.
    13) Thinks he might just use nukes in Europe.
    14) Doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is.
    15) Thinks all black people are poor and unemployed.
    16) Wants to build a Berlin wall across the United States.
    17) Brags about arresting, confining and deporting 11 million men, women and children.
    18) Is endorsed by the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan.
    19) Hires a notorious race-baiter as his campaign chair.
    20) Uses his donor’s money to pay himself inflated rents.

    I could do another 20, but I have to get back to work.

    You have to be morally depraved to equate this pig of a man with Hillary. Hillary might be shady; Trump is the kind of man absolutely no parent ever wants their kids to grow up to be: selfish, narcissistic, racist, contemptuous of women, nativist, ignorant, lazy and stupid.

    And you’re not sure whether Hillary is better? You can’t quite decide whether a man with the self-control of a hyped-up toddler in full meltdown should have control of enough nuclear weapons to exterminate the human race?

    Really? That’s a tough one, is it?

    Oh, and:

    21) Wants to bring back torture – much harsher torture.
    22) Wants to kill the families of terrorists.
    23) Has flip-flopped on every issue, even his biggest issues.

    Okay, really, have to get back to work.

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  54. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, just quickly:

    24) Lies about charitable donations.
    25) Can’t manage a campaign.
    26) Refuses to pay small businessmen what he owes them.

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  55. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    That is a conservative motivation at its heart, i.e. “Make America Great Again“, which is essentially claiming that the old ways were better.

    Absolutely. Keep in mind that the slogan is a ripoff of Reagan’s “Let’s make America great again.” (That “let’s” does signal a subtle difference in tone–it suggests we’re all in this together, as opposed to Trump who wants to present himself as a savior who can single-handedly solve the country’s problems–but it shares the reference to an idyllic past from which America has strayed.) It is definitely a conservative theme.

    But in many ways America’s political discourse has forgotten the old framing of right vs. left as tradition vs. change. Instead, people tend to talk about the free market vs. the welfare state.

    If most of the rhetoric appeals to the past and/or focuses on asserting tribal supremacy, then it is almost surely coming from the right.

    There comes a point, though, when the rhetoric has to be seen as nothing more than mere words. Both the Nazis and the Soviets were totalitarians. At some point, the rhetoric they used to justify it has to be seen as secondary to their true nature.

    If the focus is on a future that isn’t married to the past, then it is almost surely on the left.

    I’m not disputing any of that, I’m just pointing out how much of this conception is an artificial construct. When people invoke the left and right, they are implicitly placing into the same camp Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, and Josef Stalin on the one hand, and Colin Powell, George W. Bush, the Birchers, and the Nazis on the other. Even though Clinton and Powell have far more in common with each other than either does with Stalin or Hitler.

    What people like Jonah Goldberg are trying to do is deflect the negative association on the right and try to pin that association on the left. It has a lot to do with notions of responsibility. Five years ago I would not have agreed with the idea that the Republican Party was in any way responsible for David Duke, Stormfront, and so on, any more than the Democratic Party was responsible for Stalin. Now, after seeing the rise of Trump and the increasing influence of the so-called “alt-right,” I’ve largely changed my mind about that. But it’s not because they both can be described as “right-wing,” a term that has as much capacity to mislead as it does to inform.

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  56. Thor thormussen says:

    According to Martin Longman today at The Washington Monthly, if every other group voted like normal, and white men turned out 100% in November, Hillary would still win by 85 electoral votes.

    It doesn’t matter which piggy the GOP sends to the slaughter, they can’t win. There aren’t enough old, white, southern, uneducated christian men anymore.

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  57. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Both the Nazis and the Soviets were totalitarians.

    There are right-wing totalitarians and there are left-wing totalitarians.

    There are right-wingers who support democratic institutions and there are left-wingers who support democratic institutions.

    Right vs. left describes the story behind the policy, not the policy itself.

    The Nazis appealed to heritage — they were the third German empire and they would make the country great again. The Soviets claimed that the people were part of an ongoing revolution that would make the world a better place. Both were dictatorial, but only one of them was on the left.

    after seeing the rise of Trump and the increasing influence of the so-called “alt-right,” I’ve largely changed my mind about that. But it’s not because they both can be described as “right-wing,”

    Racism in America is under threat by changes that have taken place over the last five decades. Those who want racism to make a comeback are traditionalists, so it is largely a right-wing movement at this point in time.

    Again, right vs. left is about motivation, not about policy. Those who crave the racism of the past can usually be described as conservative because it is an appeal to tradition. In another place or at another time, that may not be true, but it is true now in the United States.

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  58. Steve Verdon says:

    @CSK:

    Holy mother of God…I thought you were kidding about the book…

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  59. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Donald Trump’s Immigration Flip Flop and then flipping back again.

    CNN’s Anderson Cooper tonight at 8PM, DT seems to deny what he suggested last night with Hannity.

    May not know what his position is ……ever!

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  60. Jen says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: I’ve seen less flopping around from a fish dying on the dock. It’s unreal.

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  61. Tyrell says:

    Big Don’s been doing so much moderating, modulating, tenderizing, fluffing, and softening he’s going to soon find himself with Hillary in the left field foul section. The Yankees might even be interested – seems like they need another fielder !

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  62. Eric Florack says:

    @Tyrell: well, the point I’ve been making for the last 6 months of lease is that he started there

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  63. SenyorDave says:

    @michael reynolds: 26) Refuses to pay small businessmen what he owes them.

    I think this shows such a major character flaw! My dad was an engineer and he had his own firm. His word was his bond. If he said he would do something that was it. The idea of stiffing a contractor would have been incomprehensible to him. For Trump it is part of doing business. If he loses I don’t see why anyone would ever do business with him again.

    When I was 15 the building my father had his business in, which was across the street from an airport, was hit by a plane and burned down. This was in the 70’s prior to electronic records. He had O/S receivable of about $40k, but no proof and little detail other than educated guesses. His clients came to him and told him what they owed him, and he got virtually all his accounts receivables. I can only imagine what Trump’s clients would have done in a similar situation given his reputation for screwing people.

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  64. grumpy realist says:

    @SenyorDave: I had to swipe this from one of the threads over at Balloon Juice:

    AltRight = whiny EmoNazis who try to justify their hate on Twitter and Youtube

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  65. grumpy realist says:

    @grumpy realist: P.S. My own experience of the alt-right are the “red-pill” troglodytes who switch between beating their chests about how “alpha male” they all are and whining that attractive girls won’t sleep with them. Funny how so many of them are enamoured of video games and bitcoin, given that both of the latter depend highly on networks and running away from reality.

    All of the so-called alt-right, as far as I can tell, runs off the conspiracy theory that wimmins are withholding the poontang that males automatically deserve.

    Great. An entire political movement made up of whiny “Nice Guys.”

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  66. gVOR08 says:

    I see Trump has called Hillary a bigot. Does he remotely grasp that he handed Hillary a Trump hunting license?

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  67. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pch101:

    (“Deutschland über alles”…Germany isn’t just good, it’s superior to everyone else.)

    That’s not what Deutschland über alles means — it’s not Deutschland, the nation-state, over other nation-states such as France. It’s Deutschland, the nation-state, over the constituent nations of the German people that had until the middle of the 19th century been fairly independent political groupings. It’s Deutschland as an over-arching national entity over the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Saxony, the Grand Duchy of Hesse, the Kingdom of Bavaria, etc. It’s like saying the United States of America over the individual states.

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  68. Eric Florack says:

    At least now they can call the immigration Bill the gang of 9 bill

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  69. Tyrell says:

    “Trump has flipped so far back on his immigration views that he is now offering the Mexicans free flights into the US on his airline ! “

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  70. grumpy realist says:

    @Rafer Janders: A.J.P. Taylor points out that Germany never has had easily discernible borders, which is one of the reasons why the national identity became wrapped about this Platonic “German-ness” which was supposed to run wherever Germans were living.

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  71. Rafer Janders says:

    @grumpy realist:

    A.J.P. Taylor points out that Germany never has had easily discernible borders, which is one of the reasons why the national identity became wrapped about this Platonic “German-ness” which was supposed to run wherever Germans were living.

    Eh, that to me is a “just-so” story. France, Poland, the Netherlands,Hungary, etc. don’t really have easily discernible borders either (there’s no natural large river or mountain range that clearly delineates where the border of France with Germany, or Germany with the Netherlands, or Germany with Poland, or Hungary with Austria, or Portugal with Spain, etc. “should” be).

    National identity became wrapped up around “Germanness” for very many reasons, many of them to do with the violent political re-groupings of the Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent death of the Holy Roman Empire, but borders are probably the least of the reasons. And as a way to organize yourself, grouping around who speaks the same language isn’t the most irrational way to do it.

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  72. Pch101 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The first stanza includes the words “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/ Über alles in der Welt” (“Germany, Germany, above all else/ Above all else in the world). The first stanza has not been used since WWII, but it was the only stanza used by the Nazis.

    This was an imperialistic anthem during the Nazi era. The words that one uses or omits make the difference.

    http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mp/9460447.0007.104/–german-national-song-in-the-third-reich-a-tale-of-two

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  73. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pch101:

    Oh for god’s sakes….the fact that the Nazis used a song does not per se make it a Nazi song. The lyrics were written in the early 19th century, and were considered at the time to express liberal, even revolutionary sentiments of a resistance to feudalism. Here’s some education for you:

    In 1841, the German linguist and poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics of “Das Lied der Deutschen” to Haydn’s melody, lyrics that were considered revolutionary at the time.

    The song is also well known by the beginning and refrain of the first stanza, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany above all else”), but this has never been its title. The line “Germany, Germany above all else” meant that the most important goal of 19th-century German liberal revolutionaries should be a unified Germany which would overcome loyalties to the local kingdoms, principalities, duchies, and palatines (Kleinstaaterei) of then-fragmented Germany.[2] Along with the flag of Germany, it was one of the symbols of the March Revolution of 1848.

    In order to endorse its republican and liberal tradition, the song was chosen as the national anthem of Germany in 1922, during the Weimar Republic…..

    The first line, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt” (usually translated into English as “Germany, Germany above all else, above all else in the world”), was an appeal to the various German monarchs to give the creation of a united Germany a higher priority than the independence of their small states. In the third stanza, with a call for “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit” (unity and justice and freedom), Hoffmann expressed his desire for a united and free Germany where the rule of law, not monarchical arbitrariness, would prevail.[6]

    In the era after the Congress of Vienna, influenced by Metternich and his secret police, Hoffmann’s text had a distinctly revolutionary and at the same time liberal connotation, since the appeal for a united Germany was most often made in connection with demands for freedom of the press and other civil rights. Its implication that loyalty to a larger Germany should replace loyalty to one’s local sovereign was then a revolutionary idea.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutschlandlied

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  74. Pch101 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You seem to be determined to miss the point.

    The Nazis used it as an imperialist anthem. Wikipedia can’t change that aspect of history (and I would not rely upon Wikipedia as a reference, anyway.)

    Whether or not imperialism was the intent of its composer is irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is the use of nostalgic and supremacist messaging in order to bolster a right-wing cause. And that’s exactly what it was used for.

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  75. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pch101:

    And you seem determined to misunderstand the original point you made. You began by saying;

    If most of the rhetoric appeals to the past and/or focuses on asserting tribal supremacy, then it is almost surely coming from the right.

    And then listed the Deutschlandlied and its opening stanza as an example of that:

    (“Deutschland über alles”…Germany isn’t just good, it’s superior to everyone else.)”

    My correction to you was to point out that in this case, those lines weren’t, in fact, what you thought they were — they’re not an appeal to the past or a focus on tribal supremacy, but instead were written as a liberal, progressive argument in face of feudal and monarchical traditions. Your general point that appeals to the past are generally (but not always) appeals from the right is valid, but the specific example you used to illustrate the point, the Deutschlandlied, is wrong.

    The Nazis twisted well-known lyrics to use it as a imperial anthem, but the Weimar Republic earlier used it as a social democratic anthem. The fact that the Nazis mis-used it doesn’t make it an appeal to the past any more than the fact that Reagan appropriated Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” makes that song a conservative ode to the flag and family.

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