​”It comes from a recognition that the country largely hates the GOP.”

Who said that and why?

Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist and The Transom newsletter. Not a Democrat. Possibly populist leaning in some areas. Accused visciously by NeverTrumpers of being racist in the aftermath of Charlottesville because he said the same as what about 2/3’s of America thinks about pulling down statues across the country. And which he has been saying for years.

Just to be clear about who it is who wrote those words above.

Why those words? Because it seems that Trump Triangulation is a real – if uncertain – possibility. Yes, after his ambush of Ryan and McConnell on Wednesday, the president has the possibility of focusing on issues like infrastructure and trade and NOT on small government. And yes, the GOP is even lower in the polls than the president. Whether Trump has the discipline to triangulate between Democrats and moderate Republicans remains to be seen.

But it’s about more than discipline. Trump seems to need a policy framework. Bannon is gone and Jared and Ivanka are hardly going to provide him with a populist but centrist style of nationalism. And his increasingly establishment qua military White House is hardly the kind to provide him with a recognizable, independent view of America’s and the World’s political issues.

But the question is: does the lack of a consistent policy framework really matter? To his base, the president is a man of character – THEIR kind of character. They don’t need policy frameworks. They are more concerned about results. But the president needs more than his base and thus triangulation.

Here’s where a fascinating article in American Affairs written by Rob Ford’s ex Chief of Staff, G. Mark Towhey, is so relevant. Yes, THAT Rob Ford – Toronto’s ex-mayor.

Here’s the gist of it. A growing number of people are results oriented (a majority has arguably always been) and not ideologically oriented. Think of it this way:

Imagine on the x-axis (horizontal) of a graph you have ideology – to the left is the Left. To the right is … you, guessed it! The Right. Now look at the y-axis. Towards the top of the graph along that vertical line are the ideologically inclined. Towards the bottom of that line are the pragmatists. Now imagine all sorts of little dots scattered around all 4 quadrants of the graph. Upper Right Hand are Right Wing Ideologues. Lower Left Hand quadrant are Left Wing Pragmatists. I will assume you are more than capable of filling in the remaining two quadrants.

Now … draw a long elongated stretched-out circle at the bottom of the graph that gathers in tiny dots on a portion of the Left and much of the Right side, but both sides being pragmatists who want results in their daily lives and don’t give much thought to ideology. You’ve just corralled Trump’s base. Congratulations!

While we raise a storm about a few hundred fascist Neo Nazi’s in Virginia, the real Trump supporters are not about those sort of positions. Does anger at America’s changing and uncertain economic and social fabric matter to them? Of course it does. Are there a small, bigoted minority who want to use Trump to push their agenda? Of course there are. Should Trump have been a little clearer after Charlottesville (and I don’t mean about statues)? Of course he should have.

But if Trump can somehow expand that circle and stretch it out to the left (think of ex Obama voters who voted for him) by achieving measurable, concrete results (no he hasn’t done much yet thanks to Congress mostly; but yes there have been shifts due to executive orders undoing some of Obama’s orders) then triangulation could really work for Trump.

And Towhey’s model also explains the behavior of Trump-supporting evangelicals. They know full well of Trump’s behavior, but they feel his methods – his lack of politically correct hostility – will give them breathing room to live and worship as Christians in America. They are pragmatic when it comes to Trump in order to live as their faith prescribes. That is, they play the top and the bottom of the y-axis.

In other words, behind the theatrical tweets, the president might just prove much more of a centrist pragmatist than either Republicans or Democrats or most of the media give him credit for.

Oh yes. There’s Trump’s policy framework, by the way. A centrist pragmatist who uses populism to keep his base fired up. But who needs to triangulate to get things done. It’s about the y-axis stupid!

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