trump and the other republicans.

Yes, Trump is a blowhard, but so what? Is he using his quasi-populist appeal to advocate things that are uniquely dangerous to the nation or the political establishment? Are his policies substantially different from his Republican rivals? There is no better place to investigate that than the recent August Republican debate.

During the debate, Trump made several interesting, brash statements:

  1. The shrewd and crafty Mexican government is sending us its undesirables, and the idiots in our government don’t have a clue.
  2. Sexism and sexist remarks are just playful fun.
  3. Abortion must be made illegal.
  4. The Iran deal is a disaster made by a President who doesn’t have any idea how to negotiate.
  5. ISIS is a threat and a disaster compounded by the ineffectiveness of the Obama administration.
  6. Obamacare is a disaster and is bad for business.
  7. He’ll run as an independent if he has to.

Apart from point 7, all of those statements could have been made by any of the other candidates, and in fact, for the most part, they were:

  • Marco Rubio stated that on day one, he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also expressed support for a fence along the Mexican border, defunding Planned Parenthood, and criticized establishment figures [read: Hillary Clinton] for being part of the political problem in Washington for so long.

  • Scott Walker brandished his deal-making credentials by citing his union-breaking record in Wisconsin and criticized Hillary Clinton for the widespread disasters in the Middle East.

  • Chris Christie recommended bumping up the retirement age, expanding to the military in terms of personnel and equipment purchases, enhancing government surveillance laws, and restoring American trust and partnership with Israel, which was “abandoned” by the Obama administration.

  • Mike Huckabee called for using the 14th Ammendment to protect the fetus in the womb, doing away with income taxes, and substituting them with a consumption tax that would hit all of the people currently freeloading on the system. He would not raise the age at which one can collect Social Security, though he regards the current system that garnishes wages to fund entitlements akin to theft by the IRS.

  • John Kasich would express love toward his daughter if she come out as gay, but stated that he still believed in traditional marriage.

  • Bobby Jindal supported privitization of schools and expansion of charter schools.

  • Jeb Bush, while supporting a path to citizenship for current undocumented residents, supported tougher immigration laws. He also promised 19 million jobs over 8 years and 4 percent growth per year if he were elected president, and he cited his experience in Florida instituting the Common Core and combating teachers unions as positive examples of his leadership.

  • Rand Paul dodged a question concerning support of Israel by criticizing current executive foreign policy, which has resulted in ISIS being supplied with American military equipment. He also implicitly supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act during an exchange where he criticized Donald Trump.

  • Ted Cruz promised greater support for the military and for Israel, and expressed his pride in authoring a bill (aka Kate’s Law) that would cut federal funding to cities that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

  • Ben Carson suggested a biblically-inspired tax code: 10% for everyone, similar to tithes paid by Church attendees. He also expressed support for waterboarding and criticized the Obama administration for operating without “brain.”

These statements for the most part are very right-wing and very much to the right of the general population. Simply put, they are intended to appeal to the core base of the Republican Party.

With some exceptions, they are anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, pro-war, anti-Iran, anti-Obama, pro-Israel, etc. When Trump says something overtly racist, his rivals suggest policies in politically guarded language that would have similarly racist outcomes. When Trump says something sexist, his rivals don’t demean women but still work to undermine the social services that have allowed them to move toward equal participation in the workforce. When Trump unleashes his vitriol against Obama, he’s simply replaying the Republican tune over the past seven years.

Even then, for much of the debate, Trump was forced to prove how similar he was to the others on stage and the authenticity of his Republican, conservative credentials. He defended himself about his several bankruptcies, political donations to Democrats, and previous pro-choice positions.

Fundamentally, all of these candidates are similar in what they promise. Trump being a blowhard when he says it is just a difference in the way he delivers his messages, not their content.