I am always right. As I predicted in July, Donald Trump has electrified an otherwise soporific field of GOP candidates and exhibited real staying power. He has captured the attention of Republican voters. In defiance of his critics, who see him as either a clown, a madman or both, he continues to lead in the polls.
But Trump needs to move beyond his current support ceiling by appealing directly to new constituencies. His lead is strong, but not unassailable. As other candidates drop out, it leaves an opportunity for stronger contenders like Carson, Fiorina and Rubio to consolidate support. Moreover, a large swathe of Republican voters have yet to make up their minds about The Donald. To seal the deal and snatch the Republican nomination, Trump needs some fresh ideas. As one of Trump’s most enthusiastic observers, I feel compelled to offer some suggestions.
TECH VISAS AND MANUFACTURING
If there’s a single issue that defines the Trump candidacy, it’s immigration. Trump has enraged the establishment and energised the conservative grassroots with his uncompromising stance on immigration. Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the southern US border and make Mexico pay for it has become an internet meme.
Having firmly drawn a line in the sand on immigration, Trump can now confound his opponents by sketching out what a controlled immigration policy would look like. Critics of immigration often talk about the “brain drain” – rich countries attracting the best and the brightest from foreign lands, impoverishing them in the process.
I understand this argument. I just don’t care. Instead of hollowing out the middle class by importing millions of cheap, unskilled workers, America should focus on the top talent of foreign countries. Tough luck for China and Russia if they can’t offer an American level of quality of life for geniuses. Perhaps those countries should try out the “freedom” thing people seem to like so much.
This would be a smart new message for Trump that would be difficult to argue against. Immigration in the tens, not hundreds of thousands, and only the very best that the world has to offer, focusing particularly on Silicon Valley as an economic and cultural powerhouse. Trump should, in effect, offer unlimited high-skilled visas for anyone who wants to come to America to work in the technology industry.
Silicon Valley, for all its professed progressivism, has been slow to embrace Hillary Clinton. And many of the richest and brainiest figures in San Francisco are libertarians and misfits who would take a chance on Trump if he offered them this simple and smart policy. The majority of highly-skilled tech visas would go to cheap Indians, Chinese and others from, say, newly Islamicised countries. We should be welcoming these workers with open arms.
As well as being easier to integrate, a small immigrant population of boffins would have virtually no impact on American jobs. Geniuses tend to create their own jobs, and employ others, instead of being a drain on the system. Trump would be able to maintain his tough stance on immigration while confounding attempts to paint him as a knee-jerk reactionary or an extremist.
He’d also be able to appeal to his conservative base with mischievous, patriotic rhetoric about stealing the world’s best and brightest and bringing them to America and would give the Chinese and Indian governments serious cause for concern.
This idea is not without precedent: it’s exactly what the US did after World War Two, when America nabbed the best brains from Germany and took them to the States. The US is still able to appeal to such minds because, well, life here is even better than it was then! The Germans America imported were critical to the development of the space program and dozens of weapons technologies.
America did the same after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with much the same results. Trump should cast himself in sharp relief against progressive figures like Bernie Sanders by unashamedly declaring his intentions to steal the smartest people in the world and bring them to America.
The decline of manufacturing in America has had devastating human consequences in some cities. The Democrats’ answer – replacing blue-collar jobs with a bloated welfare state – is no answer at all. Trump should find a better one. Trump is correct to point out that America is losing to China, and nowhere is this more obvious than in manufacturing. The best battery engineers are Chinese, most of Silicon Valley’s microchips are made in China and even the Chinese car industry is starting to take off.
The Trump solution should be twofold: firstly, he should slash regulations to make it just as easy to manufacture in the US as it is in China. Then he should incentivise the best Chinese manufacturers to relocate to the US. Just imagine the barnstorming and bravura Trump performance: a speech in which he appeals to Chinese companies to come to America. You won’t need suicide nets under your factory windows, he’ll say. Pay a good wage and offer some discounts and Americans will work for you.
America has always sought to assimilate the best, and Chinese engineers would be a welcome replacement for Mexican drug barons. Life isn’t always going to be rosy in China – possibly not for much longer at all. Trump’s goal should be to have every Chinese engineer, manufacturer and factory worker dreaming of a better life in America.
In short, Trump should make America like the coolest frat house or sorority on campus: run by blondes and alphas, ultra-competitive in its attitude to rivals, and prohibitively difficult to gain access to unless you’ve got the chops. Anyone who does get in will acquire an aura of prestige, and be marked out as one of the best the world has to offer. Whether Trump wants to institute hazing at the border – or, even better, an initiation ceremony modelled on British university societies – is of course up to him.
GUNS, CARS AND POP CULTURE
The winds of cultural politics are changing. As Big Government advances, it begins to encroach on an increasing number of subcultures, who will look to anti-establishment Republicans like Trump to represent them. Trump could reach out to these groups, who are often on the margins of mainstream society yet full of the brightest minds, to form a new frontier of Republican cultural politics.
Gamers and pop culture enthusiasts are one such group. In the past, it was conservatives who were seen as the dour stick-in-the-muds of cultural politics. They were the ones who tried to censor rap lyrics and video games due to their allegedly “harmful effects” on society. Today, it’s left-wingers and feminists leading the charge.
They’re the ones who banned a pop song on dozens of university campuses and who wage ceaseless war on politically incorrect video games. As a result, a backlash of web-savvy millennials against the censorious, authoritarian left is currently underway. It would only take one smart Republican to capture this cultural libertarian moment and make it his own.
Granddad conservatism, which sees pop culture as a corrupting influence on American youth, is a spent force. If Trump wants to win the hearts of millennials, he should stick up for their right to choose what kind of media they consume and what kind of media they create. With the left sliding into authoritarianism on these issues, Trump has an open goal in front of him. Internet culture is Trump’s for the taking.
Trump needs to continue to embrace the power of memes. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, you’re part of the problem. Trump has spread like wildfire in everything from “reaction GIFs” to cartoons of him characterised as a green frog named Pepe. This may be incomprehensible to people over 30, but it’s how young people, eligible to vote, communicate. No one else can speak to them. From either party.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
The politics of university campuses are another untapped resource, waiting for the right Republican candidate to come along. The rise of nannying, “safe space” culture on campuses, where politically unwelcome speech is censored to protect students’ feelings, is now well-documented. World-renowned academics like Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt are speaking out against the trend, but it’s almost as if Republicans haven’t noticed. Trump should make a public statement on this issue sooner rather than later, doubling down on earlier statements about “political correctness” and providing a robust, classical libertarian vision of the purpose of education.
Free speech on the internet is another emerging cultural battleground where Trump could make an impact. The same left-wing push to censor unwelcome speech on college campuses is also making itself felt on the web. At the behest of left-wing feminist activists, a UN group recently published a brazen call for national governments to censor offensive speech on the web.
Meanwhile, social media companies like Reddit and Twitter, once bastions of free speech, regularly bow to demands to censor conservative journalists and activists who are wrongly accused of “abuse” and “harassment” because they dare to criticise the progressive consensus. By standing against these trends, Trump could capture the support of the silent majority of web users who want free speech in cyberspace to be more than just a memory or an ideal.
There are a myriad of other subcultures under siege by big government and left-wing activists. They would all throw their support behind a Republican who promised to restore and protect basic cultural freedoms. Car enthusiasts, a huge subculture in the U.S. are currently under attack by Hillary Clinton, who wants to reimpose an absurd nationwide speed limit of 55 mph.
As a concrete example of oppressive car laws that could be solved on a federal level by tying them to highway funding: California only gives out 500 “SB100” vouchers every year, and they are instantly snapped up. That means only 500 people per year can build a kit car in California, and, even then, the restrictions are preposterous. You have to build it yourself, cannot pay others to do it for a year, and no licensed businesses can build them.
They also have to be built for personal use, not for resale. Even with all these restrictions, there is still a ton of demand that California refuses to supply. Many of these people would even be happy to meet emissions regulations, but they have no way to do so legally. Remember, the car enthusiast scene is predominantly Hispanic. Hispanics dominate the muscle car industry, especially in California. Every body shop in the state is staffed and surrounded by Mexicans.
It’s also worth noting that if Hillary gets her way on ethanol, there won’t be any real gas left for vintage or performance cars that need it. At least, not at any reasonable price. This will seriously hurt the millions of auto enthusiasts in America. The main results of ethanol are almost exactly the same as the Democrat party: insiders and fat cats get sweet government contracts, the systems involved are completely screwed over, and prices for related products skyrocket – in this case, dairy and meat products, because the corn that used to go into cows now goes into gas tanks.
The number of subcultures and hobbies essential to the American way of life targeted by pro-regulation, pro-big government politicians rises every day. As we’ve seen with the NRA and video game fans, the enthusiasm these fandoms have for their hobbies and lifestyles can suddenly and explosively transform into near-unstoppable political and cultural juggernauts.
The first Presidential candidate to resolutely speak out on their behalf would win support for a generation and be as beloved as Ronald Reagan. Of course, Trump should also continuously reaffirm his commitment to the Second Amendment. Perhaps a photoshoot in the desert with a jet-powered truck and a couple of .357 Magnums would do it. Don’t tell me you don’t want to see those photos.
CAN’T STUMP THE TRUMP: MILO’S TAKE
In a field of boring GOP candidates, Donald Trump is the only candidate interesting enough to appeal to disaffected under-30s and broaden the GOP voter base. By presenting something fresh and original, he could bring in a wave of first-time voters in the same way that Barack Obama did in 2008. No one else has the same opportunity.
Unlike every other candidate in the field, Trump is really, really, stupidly rich. And people love him for it. He’s not beholden to any of the interests other candidates are but he is yet to explain just how fundamental an advantage that is over his rivals, who jones around for cash from anyone who will pay: corporations, the Saudis, you name it. Trump is perhaps the only “no strings attached” presidential candidate in history.
Ironically, the only thing that could stop him is caution. Cautious is an odd way to describe a man whose public comments are so politically incorrect that they’ve become a mainstay of internet commentary, but I can’t help noticing that it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a new idea from Trump. Presidential candidates need to constantly reinvent themselves, regularly come up with new ideas, and proactively direct the debate. Trump was great at that to begin with.
Trump may still be ahead now, but he can’t rest on his laurels. Like a shark, he must keep moving forward. To sustain momentum, Trump should totally ignore the GOP establishment, which has failed utterly and is about to hand yet another election to a Clinton unless he is the candidate. Remember, Donald: your hair brought you to the dance, but it’s your policies that will get you into the White House.
Trump is in fact the only serious candidate; he’s the candidate with the best chance of beating Hillary. To get there, Trump should embrace internet subcultures, give Silicon Valley open access to highly-skilled visas, stick up for car and gun lovers and above all robustly defend the free speech protections he has exploited so brilliantly in crafting his public image.
Because the First Amendment isn’t just for property tycoons and reality stars: it’s for everyone. And it is at colossal risk if the next President is a Democrat. Only a strong coalition of entrepreneurs, gamers, channers, gun and car owners and lovers of free speech and free expression can be sure of preventing that outcome.