“I know basically no one cares about this (the lack of policy) but it’s seriously unprecedented.”
We are soon to find at least something of an answer. In September, Chris Hayes took to Twitter, offering up a Politico article as an exemplary of a key aspect of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Steve Benen of msnbc, at the time, called it “an under-appreciated point”α, which is, technically, true, but that really is the thing about the Donald Trump Show; it is impossible to fully appreciate anything about this presidential “campaign”. Such as it is, and inasmuch as Twitter monologuing―monotwitting? tweetologuing?―is all the rage:
I know basically no one cares about this (the lack of policy) but it’s seriously unprecedented. Here’s a snapshot.  Here’s a piece on Clinton’s tech policy advisers. [link] Fairly standard arrangement: experts/insiders volunteer.  They craft policy on a whole range of important, but fairly technical issues. Happens in all campaigns on both sides.  Lots of times these informal advisers over-represent industry, which is bad! But there’s an effort to sketch out a concrete agenda.  There simply is no infrastructure like this for Trump. There was for Romney, but outside of a few issues, it doesn’t exist for Trump.  There simply is not a real policy agenda. And so, the campaign can’t be about it in any real way. Hence the focus on immigration.  At least with immigration there is some kind of policy, even if all over the place. But you can actually talk about policy contrasts.  But ultimately a Trump Presidency is a complete and total black box. No one, probably not even Trump knows what the hell it looks like.
And here we are, two months later, at the end of the line. To the one, did Trump ever open the black box? To the other, does it matter that he didn’t?
α Benen continues:
Trump and his aides considered providing voters with more detailed information about how the candidate would govern, but they rejected it. In May, Politico quoted a campaign source saying Trump didn’t want to “waste time on policy,” in part because he believes “it would make him less effective on the stump.”
The same source added at the time, “It won’t be until after he is elected but before he’s inaugurated that he will figure out exactly what he is going to do.”
As we discussed at the time, this posture turns the whole point of campaigns on its head. Voters are apparently supposed to support the least-experienced, least-prepared presidential candidate of the modern era first, and then he’ll let the public know how he intends to govern.
Image note: “But ultimately a Trump Presidency is a complete and total black box. No one, probably not even Trump knows what the hell it looks like. 8/8” (Chris Hayes, via Twitter, 6 September 2016); image of Donald Trump via YouTube.
Benen, Steve. “Trump campaign’s ‘black box’ leaves key questions unanswered”. msnbc. 6 September 2016.
Hayes, Chris. The Black Box Tweets. 6 September 2016.
Romm, Tony. “Inside Clinton’s tech policy circle”. Politico. 7 June 2016.