Now, sounding like Hillary Clinton, Trump says he would be agreeable to raising taxes on himself and other rich Americans. Once again, his Democratic-leanings are evident. “Anyone who thinks they pay too little in taxes is free to send more to the IRS,” anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist tells me. “They should, however, leave the rest of us alone.”
It is peculiar that interest groups keen to sniff out RINOs and to attack liberals have been muted or altogether AWOL on Trump. He was pro-choice and says he won’t necessarily cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. However, full-throated denunciations from pro-life groups have been hard to find. (To its credit, the Susan B. Anthony group put out a statement debunking Trump’s statements on Planned Parenthood, but I don’t see it ruling out support for him.) Likewise, Trump has been all over the lot on gay marriage, yet anti-gay marriage groups have not taken him on.
On the national security side, foreign policy groups and voices have denounced Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for his neo-isolationist views, flip-flops and efforts to shut down National Security Agency. But where are the voices to denounce Trump’s position that the Iran deal does not need to be undone, that Ukraine doesn’t matter and that we should start trade wars with Mexico and China? Frankly, Trump is closer to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s foreign policy vision than any other candidate, and yet he has escaped scrutiny.
Even more bizarre is the quietude of groups such as Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, who have gone after squishy moderates and demanded ideological purity. They go after candidates for minor ideological quibbles and strategic differences. They and related groups have routinely condemned GOP leadership, which is much more ideologically consistent than Trump. Where are they? Perhaps it does not drive donations to call out Trump’s fraudulent conservatism.
Certainly there are scores of blogs and talk radio hosts who would never tolerate such ideological incoherence from, say, a Jeb Bush or John Kasich. Still, they fall all over Trump, fawning and defending him.
There are several explanations for what is going on. First, sincere and serious activists and policy groups have been loath to give Trump credence. They, like many of his opponents, have hoped he would go away. But he hasn’t. Second, many of the Beltway groups and talk radio radicals are not interested in conservative policy, either; they are in the business of generating outrage — and the money and audience that go with it. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop giving Trump a free ride. Groups committed to the policy positions Trump trashes should speak up, or see causes to which they are devoted go down the drain.