But over the past few months, there has been a lot of evidence that Trump’s populist-nationalism is disintegrating. In September he released a tax-reform plan that is much beloved by the most anti-nationalist conservative thinkers around. In fact it is the very thing that Beltway creatures like Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth cite when they try to explain their sudden and perplexing support for Donald Trump.
Trump has also sounded completely out of his depth on immigration, much to the chagrin of his restrictionist fans. In a debate in Detroit, where Trump would supposedly have some of his most nationalist-minded fans, Trump said, “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in.” He described his position on immigration as “softening” and then long-windedly explained why Americans would not take seasonal jobs on some of Trump’s American properties. One of the reasons he offered was the weather. That’s right, the pro-American-worker Trump says that America is just too hot for American workers. Trump also pushed “touchback” amnesty, where illegal immigrants are granted legal status if they go home and obtain a guest-worker pass from an employer. Suddenly the “big beautiful door” in the Mexican border wall sounds a lot bigger. As Trump has begun to emphasize about immigration, “everything is negotiable.”
Trump’s non-interventionism also seems to be on the table. In the Detroit debate he talked about creating “safe zones” in Syria to stem the refugee flow. And in the Miami debate he said he would commit ground troops to Syria and Iraq: “We really have no choice, we have to knock out ISIS… I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000-30,000.”