When Donald Trump is asked questions about foreign policy, he frequently brings up his ability to make deals and presents his 1987 book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, as evidence. Naturally, one would think that Trump would be quick to reference his 2000 book, Trump: The America We Deserve, when asked about his vision for America’s future, but that is not the case. Trump rarely, if ever, discusses The America We Deserve, and this is for one very simple reason: the Donald Trump of 2000 was a very liberal guy.
In recent memory, most remember Donald Trump as the hard-line Republican leading the birther movement in 2012 and one of Mitt Romney’s staunchest critics on the right. In 2000, Trump was flirting with a different run for president—not as a Republican, but rather as a member of the Reform Party. The platform he laid out for his potential run with the Reform Party was socially progressive.
Between pages 206 and 219 of The America We Deserve, Trump lays out a detailed plan for how to achieve a universal healthcare system. In fact, Trump self-describes himself as being liberal on health, stating:
I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on [health]. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems go untreated because of financial problems or red tape. It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million.
Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal healthcare.
Trump went on to say:
The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. If the program were in place in Massachusetts in 1999 it would have reduced administrative costs by $2.5 million. We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.
This, of course, comes from the same Donald Trump who regularly rails against Obamacare and single-payer healthcare.
Trump’s healthcare plan went hand in hand with his comments on abortion in 1999 that Terry covered last week. Both positions featured in his hypothetical presidential campaign platform for the 2000 election.
Trump has been, at various times, on both sides of nearly every issue. In his 2010 book Think Like a Champion, Trump even praised Obama writing:
What he has done is amazing. The fact that he accomplished what he has—in one year and against great odds—is truly phenomenal.
Now it’s 2015, and Donald Trump has positioned himself as a conservative standard-bearer. Based on the most recent polling, he seems to be convincing a lot of people that he’s a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. But does he truly believe what he’s saying now, or is running for president just good business?
Joshua Pinho works for American Principles in Action.