Before getting into this discussion, I feel an obligation to state that I am theorizing the rationality behind Donald Trump’s seemingly constant rotation of political party affiliation. I have a pretty strong theory about Trump’s motivation, and I’ll state my case, but I don’t want to send the wrong message with this article. Every person has a right in this country to pledge his or her support to any political party, or no political party. Aligning with one particular party doesn’t mean you have to be against the other, or have to disagree with every single aspect of that party. Nor does it mean you have to disagree with the opposing party 100%.
Few of us actually fall into that category. Most of us cross the lines based on the issue. I love that about people, and myself. I love that there are areas of common ground that we all have,at one point or another. We should embrace this more. I don’t want this to look like a knock on Donald Trump for having different views that may or may not align with one party or another. Even though ‘make up your mind’ is a strong factor in my disagreement with Trump’s policies and platform, I do like when opposing parties can come together and find common ground. However, given Trump’s history of political party designation, and the timing of it, I feel it is right to question his motives. So let’s look at it.
Since becoming legally eligible to vote, Trump’s political party designation has been with the Democratic Party until 1987, or the first 23 years of his adult life. In 1987, he registered as a Republican, and remained so until 1999, or 12 years. In 1999, he briefly registered under the Independent/Reform party. That alignment lasted for almost 2 years, until he registered again as a Democrat in 2001. Trump then kept his alignment with the Democratic party until 2009, where he switched sides and registered as a Repubican again, where he has remained since – except for a brief period in 2011 when he again registered as an Independent. Total Count: Democratic party: 31 years, Republican Party: 18 years, Independent/Reform: 3 years.
Trump’s political party alignment is interesting. Rarely before have we seen a potential Presidential candidate skip back and forth as he’s done. Yes, we do have a long history of politicians switching from one party to the other (In fact, Hillary Clinton was once President of the Young Republicans in college, and Bernie Sanders informally aligns with the Socialist Party; Ted Cruz considers himself to be a Libertarian (although he’s not – there seems to be a big misunderstanding of the Libertarian Party philosophy, but that’s another story), but not nearly as frequent as Trump’s alignment. Just like his platform, Trump’s real political affiliation is somewhat vague and mysterious.
Naturally, I became curious about Trump’s motivations. What there specific policy change that made him switch? Did he have certain causes he was fighting for that became lost within his respective party alignment? Most politicians who switch parties have a defining moment that makes them switch. Most politicians give a strong statement, usually a large critique of their former party, when their loyalty switches to the other side. Outside of a few sparse one-liners and quips, Donald Trump has no publicly stated reason for this. In fact, the only time he’s really gone on record about switching party affiliations was in 1999, when he stated the Republican party was too “crazy right” for him.
Primarily, he’s been dodgy and vague when question about his party loyalty past, usually citing an obligation because of his business background. What gives, then? I started looking into it and found a pattern immediately. The pattern is actually so blatant, I don’t understand why it hasn’t been picked up already. The years he’s switched parties: 1987, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2011, and then 2012 – they’re always clustered around Presidential election years. Always. The election years: 1988, 2000, 2008, 2012…and now we’re here. In two of those years, became involved in the election – 1988 and 2000, when he made his first two party loyalty switches. In 2011, he entertained the idea of running – when he switched back to Independent.
This isn’t coincidence – it’s opportunity.
Back in 1987, when Trump registered as a Republican for the first time in his life, it was after some talks he had with GOP Political activists Mike Dunbar. Who is Mike Dunbar? Mike Dunbar is a long time GOP loyalist from New Hampshire that essentially created this monster back in the summer of 1987. When the Presidential race of 1988 began to take shape, Dunbar became disappointed with the Republican party candidates and strongly began urging Trump to consider a run. Trump, a registered Democratat the time, immediately switched party affiliations to Republican, but didn’t run. It would be rather hard to sell a lifelong Democrat as the Republican party candidate, after all. This did not stop Trump from making some very presidential minded public appearances on the state of the union, however.
Thanks, Dunbar. Thanks a lot.
Trump remained a registered Republican for the next 12 years, even though he primarily donated and supported Democratic policy. He was a strong supporter of Bill Clinton during his presidency, and still considers Clinton to be one of the best Presidents (at least until Trump launched his own campaign). Clinton’s 1992 Presidential bid is likely what kept Trump off a potential Presidential run that year, and the next election year in 1996. However, when the 2000 election started to roll around, Trump began to align himself as a potential candidate. He couldn’t run as a Republican at the time, though, because of his support for Democrats and his potential platform – primarily Universal Healthcare, which he strongly supports. Universal Healthcare, after all, was an idea birthed with the Clinton Administration.
So, Donald Trump leaves the Party and registers with the New York Independent Party, an off-shoot of the Reform Party. His reasoning, of course, was that the Republican party was too “crazy right,” but let’s be honest – Trump couldn’t run as a Democrat after pledging to the Republican Party for 12 years just as he couldn’t run as a Republican after pledging to the Democratic Party for 23 years back in 1987. The only choice was to be a third party – and of course the Reform Party had monetary backing because of Ross Perot’s 1996 campaign that garnered more than 5% of the national vote. Opportunity knocked, and Trump slid right in. On a side note – it’s very interesting that Trump flaunts his self-funded campaign, but still aligns with a party that has national funding.
After the mess of a failed campaign with the Reform Party in 2000 – which can be read in detail here (I don’t feel the need to re-hash that right now), he again switches sides – this time back to the Democratic Party in 2001. Let’s face it, his previous ideas and attempts to run as a “conservative” hadn’t really paid off at this time, so he likely thought it best to align himself again with the Democrats and possibly run as a candidate in the future. When the 2008 election came around, Trump put his support into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The attachment there seems obvious – similar platform, especially with Universal Healthcare, and possibly the hope that he’d be brought along to the White House .
When that campaign failed, it was a little late for Trump to jump in himself, and after Barack Obama’s nomination, Trump switched back to Republican Party, and started looking to 2012. He built a strong platform at the time as one of the lead voices in the Obama “birther” movemet, and began strongly supporting and donating toward Republican parties and campaigns. Trump began to donate to the Republican party, and almost solely to the Republican party, even though his history had shown him to donate regularly to both (although more blue than red). In fact, his donations surged so such a level, one really has to wonder if he was trying to buy his way into the Republican party. Seriously – let’s look at a chart of Trump’s donations post-2008:
The surge is uncanny – he is buying his way onto the ticket.
For the 2012 election, Trump again considered a Presidential run – doing some pre-campaigning and doing rather well in early polls, but he eventually decided against the run. For a few months, it seemed like he was going to make a serious run in 2012, but he switched course in the summer of 2011. Why? Because of $160 million dollars. Seriously, a new contract with NBC for Celebrity Apprentice, inked in June of 2011, gave him 160 million reasons to continue with the show and bow out of the Presidential race. Hey, money rules Trump’s world, and he can and will be bought for the right price. This time the right price would pad his income and give him more money to buy his way into the Republican party candidacy – which, as we can see above, he did.
So, in 2012, he threw his support behind the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney (no begging here, folks, the unprecidented donations speak for themselves), and began to get louder with the Obama birther movement. If I remember correctly (and I may dig down to find it if I get the time, but twitter fishing is quite time-consuming), Trump even tweeted for several months about a big “September Surprise” about Obama in 2012, insinuating that he had proof of Obama’s fake birth certificate. September rolled around, though, and nothing was produced. Trump continued to strongly support Mitt Romney, and even stated that Romney won by popular vote and the election was stolen.
This actually isn’t correct, as Obama won both popular and electoral votes in 2012, but it’s certainly a 180 view of Trump’s current assessment of Mitt Romney’s failed Presidential campaign, isn’t it?
And that bumpy, political, opportunistic party-switching path has led us to 2016. There’s no doubt in my mind that every political party switch has been due to an opportunity to run for President, and nothing else (all the way back in 2987, to present day), and his bid to buy the nomination began in 2012, as seen in the above donation chart. If Donald Trump is speaking the truth about anything, it’s the fact that the Republican party can’t buy him – but that’s because he’s already bought them – hook, line, and sinker.
So that, folks, is my theory about Donald Trump’s ever-revolving door of political party affiliation. Every switch has been brought on by a campaign run. Every alignment has been made for the sake of the Presidency. Again, I’m really suprised that the political pundits and candidates out there haven’t picked up on this – it seems pretty obvious. Also obvious is the fact that Trump started buying his way into the seat he now holds – front runner of the Republican party primary race. My hope is that the public and media start scrutinizing his real loyalty here. I feel it couldn’t be any more obvious that Trump isn’t for any one, any party, any country, or any factor but himself. That, guys, is a person we don’t need in the White House.