Donald Trump bragged that the presidential election would be like “Brexit times 10.” And when it comes to pollsters and pundits, he turned out to be absolutely right because most of them were absolutely wrong that he would lose to Hillary Clinton.
But now that he’s president-elect, it’s not out of the question that Trump may repeat Brexit in a way his supporters won’t like.
After Britain voted in June to exit the European Union, the leader of the “leave” campaign (Nigel Farage, who helped Trump prepare for the debates) admitted that it couldn’t keep key promises, including that it would generate a windfall for the public health service.
Trump built his entire career and fortune by making business deals, not by following core beliefs. He has repeatedly switched his political party registration and flipped his positions on abortion rights and other issues.
Is it really too outlandish to believe that he would give up some of his most controversial ideas to win approval of other proposals?
Such speculation is fueled when after the election, his campaign website deleted links to his plans to ban Muslims and cancel the Paris climate change accord. (After reporters inquired, his campaign restored the Muslim ban link on Thursday and blamed a technical glitch.)
Americans might wonder what Trump really plans to do if they listened to him Thursday after he met for the first time with President Barack Obama. It was the time-honored tradition of the current and future presidents meeting in the Oval Office, but this time it was surreal. Trump had promoted the birtherism movement that challenged Obama’s legitimacy to be president, while Obama had warned voters that Trump was “uniquely” unqualified to be commander in chief.
Nonetheless, they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Trump praised Obama for the “really great things that have been achieved.” Presumably, that doesn’t include Obamacare, which Trump has vowed to quickly repeal, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which he says he will trash.
But it would be better for the country and the world if Trump jettisons some of his worst ideas.
For instance, he apparently still wants to deport untold thousands of undocumented immigrants and build a wall on the nearly 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico, which he would somehow get Mexico to finance. If a deportation force actually raided homes and business and if his administration actually tried to build a wall on the 140 miles of border California shares with Mexico, the anti-Trump protests this week would pale by comparison.
His supporters could also take to the streets if he reneges on major campaign promises. It’s true that many Americans voted for Trump out of resentment against the establishment, not necessarily for specific proposals. Still, it’s difficult to imagine the people at his rallies who chanted “build the wall” and “lock her up” would take it lying down if they don’t get what they demanded.
When Trump was criticized for his craziest ideas, his defenders always said to take him seriously, not literally. After he becomes president, we may see how true that was.