Perhaps the most interesting thing about Donald Trump’s rather interesting campaign for president is the way that he seems determined to do and say all of the things that you were not supposed to be able to do while running for President. One of the fundamental pillars of the Republican Party in the last half decade has been the opposition to Barack Obama’s attempt at a version of universal health care. Anyone who has not been 100% opposed to the policy has been viewed as a heretic by Republicans, yet Trump has said he is in favour of universal health care; he just doesn’t like the way that the President has done it. Though he appears to have gone too far to the left for many Republicans on health care, he has actually gone too far to the right on things like immigration, where has publicly stated that he would temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.
As surprising as his policy positions may be, what is most surprising about Donald Trump’s campaign is how he has seemingly gone out of his way to attack some of the most venerated public figures among conservative voters, including former President George W. Bush, war hero and former Presidential candidate John McCain, and even Pope Francis. Leading up to the South Carolina primary, a state where George W. Bush was particularly popular, he accused the former President of lying about the war in Iraq and failing to prevent 9/11 and then proceeded to win that state’s primary in a landslide and knock the President’s brother Jeb out of the race.
Last summer he attacked John McCain, who was a prisoner of war for over 5 years in Vietnam, saying ““He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Having seen his poll numbers continue to rise among Republican voters after attacking the Republican war hero, he decided to up the ante by getting into a war of words with Pope Francis and then went on to a landslide victory in predominantly Catholic Massachusetts.
There can be little doubt that Donald Trump takes immense satisfaction in gaining support by doing things that would end the candidacies of lesser politicians and I can’t help but think that deep down he is wondering if he could take that final step and actually get away with bashing Jesus. If you try, you can almost hear him. “What kind of messiah gets taken prisoner and nailed to a cross? I like messiahs who don’t get taken prisoner”. Though he is unlikely to take that final step, based on what we have seen in the campaign so far, it is far from certain that it would prevent him from winning the Republican nomination.