One of the reasons that so many people underestimated the possibility of Donald Trump’s rise in the Republican Party is that we zeroed in on his policy proposals and actually took them seriously. If you remember, during the primary debates there was a lot of ink spilled on the nuanced differences between Rubio, Cruz and Trump on illegal immigrants. None of that ever mattered. What Trump was communicating to his supporters didn’t have anything to do with all of that. His message has always been emotional – not thoughtful or logical.
That’s what makes the comments by Rep. Chris Collins – the first member of Congress to endorse Trump – so fascinating.
The first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president doesn’t envision one of Trump’s main campaign promises – a wall at the Mexican border – ever becoming a reality that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
“I have called it a virtual wall,” Rep. Chris Collins said in an interview with The Buffalo News.
“Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it; I don’t know,” the Clarence Republican said of Trump’s proposed barrier to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing the southern border.
Collins, who has become one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s main media surrogates, also cast doubts on another central Trump campaign promise: the candidate’s vow to deport the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants.
“I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said.
He then gestured toward a door in his Capitol Hill office.
“They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States,” Collins said. “So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”
Collins added: “We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”
Collins went on to say that Trump wouldn’t necessarily agree with this interpretation of his proposals. In other words, they are Collins’ way of adapting what Trump actually said in a way that allows him to support the candidate. I wonder if anyone finds that as interesting as I do. I suspect that it is pretty common in campaigns that are fueled primarily by emotions rather than workable policies. In other words, it is rampant in the world of post-policy Republicans.
So beyond assuming virtual walls and rhetorical deportations, why does Collins support Trump? Here’s what he said:
“I’m comfortable with his judgment as a CEO, and I’m comfortable with his 60,000-foot level vision for America,” Collins said, noting that many of the details in Trump’s proposed policies are yet to be worked out.
Oh my! He’s comfortable with Trump’s judgement and vision, but pesky “details” about things like rounding up and deporting millions of people can get worked out later. Rep. Collins’ approach to politics is why I wrote this the other day:
That might be what this campaign comes down to – a contest between someone who is trying to reflect our feelings of anger and fear and someone who is determined to tackle the challenges we face as a country.
Donald Trump’s judgment and vision are those of a narcissistic bully let loose on the national stage. Using words like “virtual” and “rhetorical” can’t cover up that reality.