After a year of campaigning, hundreds of interviews, stadium rallies, and press conferences, it is still difficult to glean a platform from the Republican nominee’s powerfully incoherent rhetoric and constantly evolving views.
Donald Trump changes his mind so frequently and so dramatically that a compilation of his current policies would not tell the whole story, nor would it be up to date for very long — he once offered up three different views on abortion in eight hours. By mixing facts with exaggerations and outright falsehoods in hundreds of interviews while simultaneously refusing to offer specifics — insisting that unpredictability is an advantage he’ll use to cut better deals — Trump and the Republican Party that’s nominated him are putting forward the most elusive presidential platform in modern history.
To wit: This list features 109 distinct policy shifts on 19 issues, tracking only his reversals since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015.
Consider the Muslim ban. Every time Trump and his team describes one of his most polarizing and defining policy positions, it is couched differently, making it impossible to determine how and to what degree Trump would implement such a thing if elected president. Initially, it was a full and complete ban on all Muslims; later, it was described as a ban that excluded citizens, members of the U.S. military, and Trump’s good friends. These days, it’s often described a ban on Muslims and people coming from countries with a history of terrorism — more than a third of the world, including major U.S. allies like France. On Monday, Trump said he hadn’t actually limited his initial ban — he’d expanded it — but just didn’t want to say it was about Muslims. Meanwhile, his campaign insists that the policy has not changed at all.
Many of the policies the candidate has put forward conflict with the party’s own platform, leaving supporters and down-ballot candidates to do verbal gymnastics around them in order to present a unified front behind their candidate. Take Trump’s flip-flop on how to approach the national debt. A desire to rapidly pay down the national debt is one of the only issues the divided Republican Party can agree on, but their nominee made a bold argument for prioritizing infrastructure investment over the debt this spring, though he later changed his mind on that too.
“You have to have a certain degree of flexibility,” the nominee said in a March debate when confronted on his evolving policy platform, taking a stance on immigration he’d reverse hours later. “You can’t say, it’s OK, and then you find out it’s not OK and you don’t want to do anything. You have to be flexible, because you learn.”
In order to better understand what the Republican Party nominee believes today — and yesterday — this list offers a look at the billionaire real estate mogul’s views since he announced his candidacy a year ago, along with any explanation the candidate has offered on the changes.