Donald Trump and the proverbial ‘adults in the room’

AP file photo

Trump: Not one of “the adults,” and maybe that’s the point. (AP file photo)

If there is one thing that unites pro-immigration Democrats and immigration-restrictionist Republicans, it’s the belief that Donald Trump’s popularity with GOP voters is all about immigration.

Both sides, of course, have an incentive to make such a claim: Both of them want you to believe it’s true. Those on the right, because they want other Republicans to adopt their position; those on the left, because they want you to believe all Republicans are anti-immigrant xenophobes.

The problem is that there’s scant evidence for believing Trump’s popularity is directly tied to his positions on immigration. I alluded to as much in this morning’s post about Scott Walker. This afternoon at RedState, Leon Wolf offers a much more thorough explanation of why immigration doesn’t explain Trump’s success:

“There’s a humongous amount of polling data that suggests that the vast majority of the Republican voting base is in favor of a conditional path to citizenship. FiveThirtyEight compiled data from eight polls conducted so far this year and found that, on average, an astounding 72% of Republicans favor a path to citizenship if certain conditions (paying back taxes, paying a fine, learning English) are met. These are ‘amnesty’ positions, according to the folks who support Trump, and yet they are the clear majority position within the GOP.

“Additionally, the explanation that immigration is the one issue that Trump voters care about is flatly inconsistent with the actual polling data that demonstrates his rise to the top. If you look at the RCP averages since Trump entered the race, it is clear that he has pulled the bulk of his support from Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. It beggars the imagination to think that, here were all these Republican voters who cared nothing about anything other than immigration, but before Donald Trump came along, they were going to support the two most moderate candidates in the race on immigration. Further, if you look at Trump’s recent dip in the polls, it is clear that the voters who have left his ship have gone to (Marco) Rubio and (Carly) Fiorina, neither of whom is an immigration hard liner by any stretch of the imagination.

“If immigration were the end-all-be-all in this year’s election, then before Donald Trump entered the race, Sen. Ted Cruz should have been way out in front, as he was clearly the most doctrinaire immigration candidate in the race — but he wasn’t. Further, if all The Donald’s supporters care about is immigration, then to the extent that they leave Trump’s camp, it should be to another immigration hard liner like Cruz or (Rick) Santorum or someone. But they’re not. In fact, the stubborn resistance of Cruz’s polling numbers to respond either positively or negatively to changes in Trump’s fortunes is nearly conclusive evidence that immigration is not the primary driver of Trump’s support.” (links original)

So what does account for Trump’s rise? Wolf theorizes that it’s “a reflection of the frustration people have in being told to act like adults.”

“I think we’ve become such a repressed society in terms of what you can say to people these days (largely due to the damn lawyers like me). You can’t say anything about anyone — either at your workplace or anywhere in public, without being called into the HR office or getting sued or having the government come knocking at your door. You can’t even say the obvious biological fact that Caitlyn Jenner is still a man without having hundreds of angry emails and tweets threatening your job.

“I think we’ve become a nation full of people who are painfully repressed and that there’s a significant part of the population that is sick to death of it. I think that’s why people behave the way they do online. The things people will say through their phones and through email are things you never hear people say real life, and I think that is reflective of the fact people are dying for an outlet to just achieve catharsis sometimes and just let it all out — and Donald Trump is just a personification of that.” (emphasis original)

This is essentially the anti-political correctness explanation. And certainly, much of Trump’s behavior and language — including his defense of his disparaging remarks about women when questioned about them by Megyn Kelly during the first GOP debate, as well as his defense of his attacks on Kelly and Fiorina since then — suggests he thinks that’s what is driving his success, too.

I’d add something that might be called a corollary to this “adults” theory since it hinges on that same word. People are tired of being told “let the adults handle things” or leave it to “the adults in the room.”

This phrase is used by partisans of both sides, and it’s intentionally condescending: If one side represents “the adults,” the other must be the petty, sophomoric, ignorant, selfish, unsophisticated children. You see it often enough on this blog’s comment threads. Certainly, we have heard a lot of this condescending phrase during the Obama administration; there’s even a tag for “the adults in the room” on Daily Kos.

It’s not just a partisan thing. Implicit in the use of this phrase, by both sides, is that “the adults” have to set things right and that the place for them to do that is in some level of government. The only place we can find “the adults,” then, is in government — which again implies that everyone outside the government are “the children.” Consider it one more way the governing class reiterates the need to coddle an infantilized population.

Here’s the irony: “The adults,” given their track record, actually stink at “handling things.” It’s “the adults,” after all, who have driven up the national debt, made a bloody hash of our foreign policy, constrained the economy to the point 2.5 percent growth is seen as an uptick, ground things to a halt on Capitol Hill and generally driven Americans to believing the country is perpetually on the wrong track.

I think all of that is helping to drive the Trump phenomenon. Do I think his is a fundamentally unserious, demagogic campaign? Yes. Do I understand why people look at the supposedly serious candidates who have been in elected office before and wonder why they should be trusted to do better than they have the past decade and a half — or better than Trump? Also yes.

Now, do I think they’re right? No, I don’t. Just because Washington has been on the wrong track for a long time doesn’t mean we need a reality TV star to set things right. On the contrary, we need someone who has a little more humility about what Washington generally, and the president specifically, ought to be doing — and a little more trust in the tens of millions of real adults who do the things that make this country, even after all the “adults” have done to it, a great one.

Reader Comments 0

53 comments
Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 If not, then they learn it every bit as quickly as have every previous immigration wave. That's a bit of a bogus issue.


It goes like this.


First Generation immigrant knows only native tongue


Second Generations knows both.


Third Generation knows only English.


And that is the case whether you are from Germany or Guatemala. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Drama queenery on Wolf's part aside, Kyle, I think you make a decent point on the potency, or lack thereof, of the immigration issue.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

a nation full of people who are painfully repressed

"Painfully?" 

because you are occasionally called upon to consider your word choices more carefully and (perhaps, even) adjust a little bit to the mores of the current millennium?

What a drama queen.

Dusty2
Dusty2

Caius


You need to find out a little more about the  cost of illegal immigrants in this country.  They send their children to public schools and they do not know English. Their wives get free prenatal care and then delivery of their babies.  They get free medical treatment at ER because they do not pay. The cost is paid by legal Americans.  Much of the wages that "illegals"  earn are sent "home" such as Mexico and central American countries.


"Legal" people are welcome but " Illegals" ARE costly to American taxpayers.




Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Dusty2

They send their children to public schools and they do not know English

If not, then they learn it every bit as quickly as have every previous immigration wave. That's a bit of a bogus issue.

Their wives get free prenatal care and then delivery of their babies.  They get free medical treatment at ER because they do not pay.

Fair point, we should just accept them on the Medicaid or (if their income qualifies them) PPACA subsidy rolls.

 The cost is paid by legal Americans.

"Legal" Americans of the rich variety benefit mightily from the reduced cost of labor these folks provide. That said, these folks pay plenty of taxes--the aforementioned witholding taxes (for benefits they will not ever see), all kinds of sales taxes, etc. 

Much of the wages that "illegals"  earn are sent "home" such as Mexico and central American countries.

Why how dare they help out their own families with whatever meager leftovers they might have to spare!

Dusty2
Dusty2

@Visual_Cortex @Dusty2


Vis


This country is organized by a Constitution and not as a free for all organization. That means we have laws including citizenship..


Whether you believe it or not, school expenses do go up for children who do not speak English.  Extra teachers, supplies, etc.


Medicaid is paid for by taxpayers and is for less fortunate US citizens.


Illegals can pay taxes only by illegal means. What  they pay illegally is not a significant amount.


Sending money out of this country does not help our economy.  If you wish to send some, there are plenty of non-profits, churches and agencies who will send it for you.


If someone wants to be a US citizen, let them come in legal ways.  That is why we have IMMIGRATION LAWS.   They are not optional!


stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@Dusty2 @Visual_Cortex  "Sending money out of this country does not help our economy."

It sure helps the economy of my neighborhood Publix. The customer service counter is processing international money transfers like crazy and collecting a fee on every transaction.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Dusty2 @Visual_Cortex Believe it or not, we have millions of "real Americans" abusing the system way more than these immigrants you speak of so dismissively.    People who, for generations, have done nothing but abuse the system and leach off the taxpayers for most of what they have, doing NO WORK.


One thing about those immigrants, the majority of the men work very, very hard to support their families, both here and away.  Wish we could say the same about our "real American" men.

Caius
Caius

Re illegal immigrants and paying back taxes.  What about those illegal immigrants who have been paying every penny of taxes they owe for years?  Do they get "amnesty" immediately since they do not owe any taxes?


March 14, 2013Daily Ticker
"Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration estimates that 3.1 million illegal workers pay into Social Security each year. In 2010, undocumented workers and their employers paid $15 billion to Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits -- that year illegal workers only received $1 billion back."


Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

@Caius  How do they pay in? With someone else's social security number? Might it be illegal to be using someone else's social security number? It's great for the fed to get extra money I suppose, but how about paying local taxes since they are burdening either the school system, wic, tanf and Medicaid for their illegal or legal children?

M H Smith
M H Smith

@Jimmyliscious @Caius 

You should rethink the idea of the government getting extra money for SS or Medicare from illegal workers. They are more than likely working as sub-contractors under 1090. Therefore the companies they work for do not collect any taxes nor pay any taxes for their 1090 sub-contract labor. We and our government LOSE extra money on and for every one of these contract labor 1090 working illegal aliens in this country. I'll stop at this point but there are two or three others ways money is lost, not made, by allowing illegal immigrants to work in this country. 

Otherwise these companies would not hire them. Although you can rest assure that about 27 to 33 cents out of every dollar is being pocketed illegally by these 1090 contract labor operations from top to bottom e.g. Taxes, Insurance and licensing fees. 



LDH2O
LDH2O

@Jimmyliscious @Caius  School money comes from property taxes and illegal or not, they have to live somewhere and their rent is passed up through landlords to schools. Further, they shop at local stores and pay local sales taxes.

Dusty2
Dusty2

Well, the refugee problem grows bigger every day.  I don't know how small counties in Europe manage thousands of people without food or clothes and necessities surging over their borders EVERY day.  Just think.  Suppose those kinds of numbers crossed over borders  from Canada in deplorable conditions and kept on coming.  We would have problems bigger than anything we have now.  We had enough problems with  "lost"  people from New Orleans after the hurricane came and when the Cubans fled here after Jimmy Carter removed all restrictions  on them coming.


Anyway, there is more than one immigration problem and we better get ready because John Kerry is promising to take more every day.  He IS mentioning that we have to study each one carefully as ISIS (as already mentioned) sees a great opportunity to get their subversives here.


It isn't  rejection of refugees, it is being ready when you take them.  It also isn't just the 'adults in the room", it is "thousands in the country"! Get ready.    

Penses
Penses

I have a different explanation for the popularity of Trump: America has undergone a cultural sea change which has resulted in people being more ignorant, unthinking, crude, angry, violent and senseless. The evidence for this conclusion seems pretty clear: the election of people like Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzeneggar as governors, the emergence of "shock jock" celebrities like Howard Stern, the rise of  vapid "reality shows" as the leading from of entertainment in America, the rise of social media in which people stupidly regularly divulge embarrasing or incriminating things about themselves - costing them job opportunities or their freedom, people murdering fellow human beings for a pair of sneakers or because they cut them off in traffic, pornograpy everywhere, cursing - even in front of small children - everywhere, cashiers unable to calculate a customer's change from a dollar without using the register, citizens not knowing who George Washington is, women now starting a #shoutyourabortion movement and so on and so on.

straker
straker

Headley


Our resources are finite.


We cannot take in an infinite number of people.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@straker Our resources are finite.


In other news Scientists confirm water is indeed wet. 


Of course they are. But lets not pretend the folks coming here are just looking for "free stuff" or handouts.


They just want the opportunity America provides. In fact when they stop wanting to come here is the day we should start worrying. . 

PudHead
PudHead

I want to know why we, the USA, already takes 270,000 people from the Middle East as part of our normal immigration process, now Kerry wants to add 100,000 more, really? How many have China and Russia taken, that’s right ZERO, and other Muslim countries? Next to ZERO…This is a regional issue and should be handled in that region. SO tell me does Kerry want to send the airfare to get here also? I believe it is sad the liberals would rather shower illegals with gifts of housing and cash before they want to help AMERICANS.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

@PudHead Yep and we send 6 million a day in aid to the middle east that we could be using for VA hospitals,  but at least they get free college over there....

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister Ahh Breitbart


They still reporting they found prayer rugs on the border  ?


America has always been a melting pot. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Well only if you are white I guess.


Every new ethnic group that came here has been hated at first. The Irsih ...then the Germans....Then Italians and so on. 

Dusty2
Dusty2

@Hedley_Lammar @RafeHollister


Hedley,


We once had a great screening system at Ellis Island.  Refugees were screened in order to protect the country.  Now we find  "refugees'" all over the country who have been here for years without detection..


Immigrants do bring new ideas and are a source  which has made our country great.  But originally  they did not come here to disrupt the country but to grow with it.  We cannot be sure of THAT now with the power of drug cartels and terrorist fanatics. Do you see the difference?.   

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar @RafeHollister Previous groups assimilated into the culture that existed, that is why they came, to be Americans first.  You cant survive as a culture unless immigrants assimilate.  Muslim groups tend to try and separate themselves from our culture, just as they tend to separate male from female.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@RafeHollister

the school board is already battling the Muslim community over adding Islamic holidays to the school calendar. 

Man, you are sooo easily trolled.

If it's a holiday that matters to a nontrivial percentage of a school population, it should be observed by the school. Not rocket science.

But do go on quoting Brietbart on SchoolHolidayGHAZI; I could use a laugh.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

So when do Republicans act like adults ? Not much.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

He the leader of your pack, and better than Romney....

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

"If one side represents “the adults,” the other must be the petty, sophomoric, ignorant, selfish, unsophisticated children."

Yup and the whiney American public, esp the cons, have nothing but doom and gloom with no one suggesting real solutions.

MANGLER
MANGLER

@RoadScholar We changed form a powerful recession to growth.  And considering Europe and the BRIC nations and Canada have gone in and out of recessions and we haven't says a little something.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian
PinkoNeoConLibertarian

He's an empty suit that has mastered the 30 second sound bite. You don't need specifics, you just need to keep the people entertained for 30 seconds at a time. That's all they have the attention span for these days.


LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

The fact that Donald and Hillary lead their respective parties at the moment is a stark reminder that half of all voters are of below-average intelligence.

JKToole
JKToole

"A pox upon the media,

and everything you read,

they tell you your opinions,

and they're very good indeed.

I wanna destroy you."

Beau1500
Beau1500

Kyle - this is your man like it or not.  It IS what your party is all about.  Do you not get it?


MarkVV
MarkVV

The arguments and counter-arguments regarding the “the adults in the room” are ridiculous on both sides. It is patently absurd and condescending to the point of being offensive to claim that the “only place we can find “the adults,” then, is in government.” On the other hand, the attacks on” people in the government” by candidates for the offices, and especially the office of the President, are immature indeed considering that those people want to become “the government,” and the same apply to the supporters, who apparently live in a dream, in which people from outside the government would not become “the government,” when elected.

MarkVV
MarkVV

There are some disputable points in Leon Wolf’s argumentation. One is the remarkable discrepancy between the polls he argues with and what we have been witness to on TV. We have seen people attending the Trump rallies and cheering wildly his intention to deport millions of illegal immigrant. How did he manage to get there only people from the 28% of the Republicans who are not in favor of a path to citizenship?

The argument regarding Se. Cruz and his low standing in spite of his immigration position is almost too puerile to take seriously. Even if people agreed wholeheartedly with Cruz’s immigration position, it does not follow that they would support him or anybody else regardless of his/her other qualities.

Apart from the above, however, it is indeed far too simplistic to attribute Trump’s popularity solely to his immigration positions. 

bu2
bu2

I'm still not totally convinced Trump isn't a Democrat trolling Republicans, trying to help Hillary get elected (how can any Republican like Pelosi????).  I sure don't believe what he says.  He is the absolute last person among the 17 original candidates who I believe.


Trump is also the least likely Republican to win a general election.  I wouldn't vote for him and I always vote Republican.  If I won't, there are a ton of others who wouldn't.  He would make Goldwater look successful.


But yes, I think Kyle has it down.  Its a reaction to a lot of things and a reflection of frustration.  And it is kind of fun to see someone be anti-PC and get away with it.  That doesn't mean he should be president.



MANGLER
MANGLER

@bu2 Considering Trump was a Democrat his entire life until the last 2 cycles, I tend to agree with this thought.  Perhaps he is the Dem's response to the GOP voting restrictions and gerrymandering of the last 2 cycles.  Would make for a great documentary after it's over.

Claver
Claver

@MANGLER @bu2 There are lots of people who don't fit neatly into either party and move back and forth over time based on which of their issues are currently more important to them.  If you are pro-life, pro-social security, pro-medicare, and a nativist the establishment in neither party is there for you 100%.  That is probably true for both Trump and a lot of his supporters.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"The only place we can find “the adults,” then, is in government..."

Ask anyone who's worked in government for a long time, it's probably one of the places least populated with "adults". More like mirthless myrmidons. Nice folks for the most part, but definitely not the people you want managing your life.

Dusty2
Dusty2

Well, it looks like Kyle may be forced to find  Jeb Bush is the right man for America.  He wants the so called "adults " to think about what they are doing.  If they do and listen and watch and yearn they will settle on Bush.  That is hard for Kyle who has settled on the wrong one several times.  He is soft pedaling  Trump because he  knows he's a firebrand not a statesman.  But, since Trump might overturn the good sense of Republicans, well.......let's not get carried away.

--------------------------


My statements seem to stay in "pending", never upending. . That is so  "suspending" depending on the ending if I ever get one.  

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Dusty2 "never upending"

It was cleared in half an hour. You're being treated the same as everyone else on the blog.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

"Adults in the room" is just one way of saying folks are tired of being ignored, except at election times.  I think the being ignored motivation is what the people are trying to address in their support for Trump.  Trump is an empty vessel, who folks think represents their views, because he is so non specific.  


Immigration is much bigger than you think Kyle, or the establishment of either party want it to be.  Dave Brat is a perfect example.  Before Brat was elected, Eric Cantor mouthed the talk the folks wanted to hear at election time, but did nothing while in a prominent position in the party.  After awhile, no one believed his pandering or that he actually supported any meaningful corrective action, based on his actions in Washington.  During the election he downplayed the immigration issue as something most GOP voters weren't that interested in.  The voters showed him the polls were not accurate.  Brat they perceived, actually believed that the culture and values of the country were under assault because of maxed out illegal immigration.  Our immigrant population has doubled since 1980.  Trump's bombast on immigration moved most of the candidates to the right on immigration, but the voters aren't convinced that if the other candidates are elected, anything will change.


The polls are unreliable.  Proggies on here said during the gang of eight, Comprehensive Immigration Bill, that over 60% of the folks supported comprehensive immigration reform.  Tell that to the individual House members who heard their constituents.  Tell that to Marco Rubio, who learned from his constituents the polls were not correct.  The folks who do the polls are not objective, they favor the status quo or more Amnesty.  The people who answered affirmatively for being for CIR, probably had no idea of the details of the bill.  When they learned what the bill entailed, many called their Congressman. 


Bottom line, I don't think you can judge the voters intent by an undefined statement in a poll.  I am for a path to citizenship, if you allow me to set the conditions; 10 years residence, no criminal activity, both parents speak English at least enough to carry on a conversation, a history of no recent government assistance, pay back taxes, pay a fine, no right to bring more family members, and no voting until all conditions above are met.  I don't think my path to citizenship understanding would mirror that of Nancy Pelosi, but we could both say we support a path to citizenship.

M H Smith
M H Smith


I'm for creating a path to obtaining legal status first after paying a fine and serving a two year probationary period then the legal pathway to citizenship is made available to them. 

The rest of this issue most fail to recognize: For instants the majority of illegal immigration does not come from illegal border crossings, instead the majority of illegal immigrants came into this country legally and simply over stayed their visa. Now what good does your wall serve Mr. Trump, if our visa system is broken worse than our borders are porous?    


Secondly, how many folks on this blog and to a further degree this country at large understand that immigration is as much a "tax reform" issue as it is a labor wage issue? Ask yourself how many tax dollars go uncollected because companies improperly use or better said abuse the 1090 sub-contractor IRS rule? Herein lies the "corruption and greed" I decried in an earlier post.    


Thirdly, it would benefit the U.S. greatly to reform the broken trade policy made under NAFTA.

Fourthly, security, not just at the border, needs strengthening between Mexico and the U.S.. In fact the security of the Americas the entire Western Hemisphere needs strengthening in order to protect and honor the Monroe Doctrine.     


Lastly, hard as it may be to accept, we actually need a controlled flow of legal labor from south of the border that is mutually wage population beneficial. 

Countries that close their borders to immigrants are the one that prosper the least. 

Trump knows he is fomenting a certain segment of the GOP base - as everyone on the right realizes. He like all the other - GOP candidates - using this tactic will move to the center on all issues once the primary is over.

M H Smith
M H Smith

CNN is all in for Carly with its' dramatization. I don't see her ROCKETING into the number two position behind Trump.

In my scoring of it so far, Bush and Rubio remain in numbers two and three Carson still in at number four. 


As for Trump being anti-immigrant because he seems to talk a tough game against illegal border crossing let's listen to what the record says: Which President has deported more illegal immigrants George W. Bush or Barrack Obama? 


As the proverbial "just sayin" Obama's actions speaks louder than Trumps words. Now for the children in Congress what have their actions said in regard to their inaction on the immigration issue? 

Don't look for Congress to stop illegal immigration, they are all too corrupt and American businesses are all too greedy to see a functionally secure immigration policy enacted.  

straker
straker

Kyle, every once and a while, I agree with you.


This is one of those times.