Special to WorldTribune.com
Donald Trump has just made the first big mistake of his campaign. Looking to maintain his huge lead in New Hampshire, he has warmly accepted the endorsement of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. It is a poisoned chalice, and Mr. Trump drinks it at his peril.
Mr. Brown is not just a liberal Republican. He is a hard-core RINO, who is despised by many grassroots Republicans. Riding a popular wave against Obamacare, Brown vowed to his tea party supporters that he would wage a frontal assault against President Obama’s Big Government liberalism. Instead, Brown did the very opposite: He betrayed his voters.
Rather than stand up to Obama’s radical socialist agenda, the Massachusetts Republican cozied up to the ruling establishment. He did next to nothing to repeal Obamacare. He played a pivotal role in crafting and passing the Dodd-Frank financial law — a key Obama priority. It not only entrenched too big to fail, a boondoggle to the large banks and giant financial institutions (and badly damaging smaller banks and credit unions), but it also dramatically expanded the federal government’s control of the financial sector.
Moreover, Brown consistently supported gun control, abortion rights, homosexuals in the military, runaway government spending, tax hikes and appointing “moderate” judges to the judiciary — including the Supreme Court. He never favored building a wall along the southern border. In fact, he was notorious for mocking tea party conservatives; at an event where we appeared together, he repeatedly disparaged constitutionalists in the audience as “crazies” and “yahoos.” His craven betrayal on a wide range of issues was a major reason for his defeat by Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Many GOP voters no longer cared for his brand of establishment Republicanism.
His left-leaning record was also a key reason why, despite 2014 being a Republican wave election, he was unable to win a Senate seat in New Hampshire. His social liberalism combined with his staunch defense of strict gun laws and crony capitalism rightly convinced the electorate that Brown is a moderate Democrat masquerading as a Republican — a cynical opportunist, who is interested in only one objective: power. Faced with the choice between a Democrat and Democrat-lite, voters decided to stick with the real thing.
It’s not just that Brown is a carpetbagger, a turncoat and a political loser that should concern the Trump camp. The issue goes to something deeper. By allying with Brown, Trump threatens to call into question one of his greatest electoral assets: His authenticity. The essence of Trump’s mass appeal — and why I like him a lot — is that he is a genuine populist. He is not a phony. He says what he means, and he means what he says. With a few exceptions — Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Jeff Sessions — America’s ruling class is riddled with people who have no moral or patriotic core. For them, politics is about self-interest and personal enrichment.
Trump’s nationalist populism stands in stark contrast to our corrupt, venal elites. His opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and free trade, his call to build a wall along the Mexican border, stop the massive invasion of illegal immigration and start deporting millions of aliens, his plan to wipe out the Islamic State, confront radical Islam and temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the United States, his defense of gun rights, sweeping tax cuts, slashing government spending and repealing Obamacare — all of this demonstrates that Trump poses a mortal danger to political correctness and the entire liberal establishment. In other words, he is a genuine insurgent, pounding on the walls of the decaying Washington citadel. His America-First agenda would topple the pillars of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
By linking himself with the likes of Brown, Trump — whether he knows it or not — is sending mixed messages to voters. Brown stands for nothing Trump allegedly represents. In fact, the former Massachusetts senator and model embodies the very treachery and cynicism that the electorate finds so repulsive about our politicians. Anybody can make a mistake. I hope that’s all this is. But if it’s something more — if it represents some kind of Machiavellian shift to the center, then Trump will soon realize that his time will have come and gone. Just ask Scott Brown.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at WorldTribune.com and the host of “The Kuhner Report” weekdays 12-3 pm EST on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.