Less than two days after Donald Trump stunned the world and defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, the new president-elect is proving that his entire campaign was a massive con job meant to rile up just enough voters to win a general election.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Trump promised that – if he won – he would immediately instruct his attorney general to “look into [Hillary Clinton’s email] situation,” adding that the former Secretary of State would “be in jail” if he were president.
He repeatedly implied that Clinton should be taken care of through violent means, whether it’s “Second Amendment people” rising up against her or her bodyguards disarming so we could “see what happens to her.”
Once the results of Tuesday’s election came in, though, Trump said the country owes Clinton a “major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.”
Lock her up, lock her up? Nope, not anymore.
He quickly moved on to Barack Obama, who was gracious enough to invite Trump – a man the current president knows is unqualified for the job – to the White House on Thursday. After the meeting between the two men, Trump said it was a “great honor” to have spoken with Obama, adding that he is “a very good man.”
This is the same Barack Obama that Trump has spent much of the last eight years doing his best to delegitimize, often urging the first African-American president to release his “real” papers to prove he’s not Kenyan-born.
Let us not forget that without this racist lie about Obama’s birth certificate, there would be no President-elect Trump right now. This conspiracy theory is what gave him political oxygen.
After Tuesday, though, he seems to recognize that he no longer needs any of it. The con is complete.
Trump no longer needs to pretend that Hillary Clinton is a criminal. He doesn’t have to incite violence against her. No more does Trump have to perpetuate the racist lie that President Obama isn’t legitimate or that his birth certificate is a fraud.
He didn’t believe any of those things to begin with, but he kept saying them because they were his biggest applause lines. The frightening level of angry enthusiasm he generated has served its purpose. The check has been cashed. Now, after squeaking past Clinton in the electoral college, he can pretend it never happened.
And remember: it’s only been two days.
In the weeks and months ahead, it’s likely that, as Trump becomes swallowed by the political system he pretended he would dismantle, he will abandon other core elements of his campaign message – the wall, the Muslim ban, promises to create a government that serves the people, not the special interests.
Just look at some of the folks running his transition team; Trump has already cracked the door open for right-wing lobbyists and special interests to mosey on in and run the show for him. That’s what happens when someone unfit for the office becomes president – they’re more influenced by outside forces, not less.
All of Trump’s post-election behavior shows not only that his campaign was a ruse to rustle up just enough support from angry, white voters; it also shows what kind of man he is.
Will his supporters notice?
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.