Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self Reliance):
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
It appears that Donald Trump has taken this passage to heart and is determined to practice it daily, as Thomas Edsall reveals in the New York Times.
While most leaders of right populist parties abroad have been ideologically consistent over the years, Trump has been wildly inconsistent, casting doubt on the depth of his convictions on issues from abortion to guns to health care.
In 1999, he declared “I am very pro-choice.” In January this year, he said,“I’m pro-life and I have been pro-life.” Trump switched his party registration from Republican to independent in 1999, then to Democrat in 2001 and back to Republican in 2009.
In 1999, Trump boasted that he was “very liberal when it comes to health care;” in June, he said the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is “a disaster called the big lie.”
In the case of guns, in 2000 Trump affirmed his support of an assault weapons ban, but in 2015 he promised that as president he would guarantee that “the Second Amendment will be totally protected.”
Trump endeavors to make America “great again.” That begins with electing him to the White House. His path there is inconsistency, preached with vigor so that he may be misunderstood.