One foundational tenet of American politics is that candidates running for office should offer specifics about what they plan to do if elected. Specificity is critically important in helping voters decide which candidate to support.
Specificity is a virtue, but it seems the time has come when the public need not know exact details about a presidential candidate’s plans to counter America’s worst enemies. Or has it? Is a portion of the electorate really ready for a candidate who will keep terrorists (both foreign and domestic), criminal illegal aliens, and inner city gangbangers in the dark about his plans, even if that means withdrawing information from the citizenry?
Donald Trump has not only withheld specifics, he’s made a virtue out of not telling evildoers what he may have in store for them. Many millions of Americans are ready to grant him the trust to protect the country by retaining possibly the oldest tactic in the history of human conflict: the element of surprise.
If an occupying army allows a native opposition force that is materially overmatched to know the date that army will withdraw, the native force, for good or ill, will bide its time. If a plan for exactly how to take ISIS’ oil is made public (right down to the A-10 Warthogs and oil field safe zones), it may be circumvented with enough torched wells to pollute the planet. If draconian new laws to combat inner city violence are being drawn up, lawmakers would thwart law enforcement by going public and tipping off the malefactors.
That last issue is exactly the topic that came up on a recent “O’Reilly Factor” segment with Trump. O’Reilly pressed for answers about how exactly Trump would stop the urban carnage in places like Chicago, and after much parrying, Trump said, “Even if I knew, I’m not sure I would tell you.”
O’Reilly laughed at the statement and it’s easy to understand why. Disclosure about strategic plans in areas like potential foreign entanglements, energy and trade policy, and immigration is generally considered a valued aspect of a presidential campaign. The public is conditioned to expect reasonable specificity about a candidate’s values, beliefs, and, most importantly, concrete plans once in office.
What Trump has driven home from the outset of his campaign is that whether he has a plan or doesn’t, when it comes to the safety of the American people, mum’s the word. Loose lips sink ships. Let the homegrown jihadists, drive-by shooters, suicide bombers, and criminal aliens worry about it. The worst of the worst, a group who unfortunately seem to be metastasizing, will never know how and when Trump will strike.
To be sure, any government relies on a veritable palette of stealth options. If all plans and plan Bs are public, a government or nation becomes vulnerable in moments of crisis. Such secrecy is seen as a necessary part of any nation’s instinct for self-preservation. It is imbedded as strict directives in the culture of national defense and security even as society holds forth estimable notions of transparency and specificity, notions which are catered to each election season, only to disappear beneath the waves of partisanship. A very large segment of the voting public has seen enough fake transparency and hollow specificity to last a lifetime.
Next Page: Where Trump has been specific, and why it’s good not to reveal your hand too soon.
Trump has been specific about the tariff he will charge companies that abandon the United States and then seek to sell their goods here: 35%. On issues both close to home and across the globe, his campaign has offered specific policy proposals for those willing to listen. When talking about most issues — education, healthcare, entitlement reform, and immigration policy among others — specificity is a good thing. If there’d been more specifics on Obamacare, it would never have been enacted. If more had been known about the crony-socialist Common Core, it would never have gotten a foothold in our schools. Fill in your own specificity “if only” here.
When it comes to threats to the homeland, both foreign and domestic, Trump has dispensed with the bells and whistles of specificity. The smart people around him can satisfy the base of his support by crafting an outline of specificity on matters of national security, without too many particulars. Trump supporters understand the element of surprise, and that their candidate is not going to tell the individuals and organizations who threaten our country what his plan for dealing with them is — not until the hammer is already down.
If the cryptic non-specificity of Donald Trump’s promise to make America safe again resonates with enough voters — security moms in particular — he might just win the election.
That’s the plan. Call it Trump’s specificity void, but always remember, especially in the voting booth on November 8th: Trump’s specificity void is meant to put our national enemies on notice. Hillary Clinton’s specificity void is a chasm of nefarious concealment.