If somebody asked me to describe Trump’s politics, I would label him a popularis. By that I don’t mean he favors the poor but favors the masses specifically because he believes doing so will grant him political power. The problem with populares is that you can never been sure which direction they’re going to go on any given issue at any point in time. Take the issue of gun control. A principled individual, whether they favor gun control or gun rights, will take a predictable stance on the issue. A popularis, on the other hand, will change their stance depending on the direction of the wind. One moment they might be attending a National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting to garner support from gun owners, the next they might be pushing gun control:
In the wake of last week’s shooting Parkland Florida—which left 17 people dead—President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban bump stocks.
“Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” said Trump in a public address Tuesday afternoon, “I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon” addressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly.
The President’s memo demands that the Department of Justice complete an ongoing review of whether bump stocks—a device which greatly increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon—are currently prohibited by current federal laws restricting machine guns.
I think my favorite claim about this announcement is that Trump is playing four dimensional chess. Such claims give Trump far too much credit. He knows that gun control is being demanded by a lot of people as it always is after a mass shooting. As a popularis, he wants to please those individuals so he’s giving them some gun control. However, he also doesn’t want to upset gun owners so he’s trying to give gun control advocates just enough to take the edge off of their hunger without angering gun owners too much.
Whether he’s playing four dimensional chess or being a popularis I will take this moment to mention that I pointed out that Trump wasn’t a staunch believer in gun rights when so many others, including the NRA, claimed he was.