6 Objections to Trump: They’re Not So Great
I’m not quite ready to put a “Trump 2016” sign on my lawn, but I’m getting there.
I had planned on supporting Rand Paul, but as I said in my last post, Rand Paul now sucks. He lied about the Ayatollah of Iran’s statement regarding the nuclear deal in a shameless and despicable way, and there’s really nothing he can say or do that will restore my trust in him again. To be clear: this isn’t about defending the Ayatollah. It’s about rejecting a blatant lie that could easily lead to World War III.
On top of that, Trump recently stated that he believes Russia is “Europe’s problem”, indicating that unless he were directly asked for aid by the EU, the US would no longer interfere with Russia’s defense of its interests along its border. This was music to my ears, and it has brought me right up to the line. One more step and I will be a Trump supporter, but I’m not quite there yet. I am waiting for the debates to make any sort of decision about who to support and vote for.
Most of the objections to Trump I hear from libertarians and conservatives are either explicitly or implicitly rooted in very idealistic assumptions about what is possible through the American political process. I’ll run through a few:
*Trump is not a libertarian!
Trump isn’t an anything ian or ist. He is anti-ideological, and to be honest, that’s pretty damned refreshing. As for libertarians, no one in the race is at this point. You think Rand Paul is a libertarian? If he is, he’s no different than the Beltway libertarians promoting wars of aggression along with the neocon establishment. Trump, on the other hand, is clearly more interested in making money than he is in making war. Not only that, he thought the Iraq war was a terrible idea and laughed out loud – as did all anti-war libertarians – at the stupid neocon rhetoric used to justify it:
“These characters, like Rubio, made a total fool of himself on Chris Wallace’s program, talking about ‘We’re better off without Saddam Hussein.’ Give me a break,” Trump said. “Right now we have ISIS, which is worse than Saddam Hussein. At least Saddam Hussein did one thing: he killed terrorists. He was very good at killing terrorists.”
My thoughts exactly.
Add to that his recent statements on Russia, and I see a man whose foreign policy thinking is very much aligned with my own.
*Trump is not a Constitutionalist!
I don’t think Trump has any particular hostility to the Constitution. I mean, there are people who just hate the Constitution, like Supreme Court justices Ginsburg, Kagan, et. al. Then there are politicians who probably haven’t read it, i.e. just about everyone running for office. I’ll grant that Rand Paul has a working knowledge of the US Constitution, but he is a weak liar who will never win the White House so it hardly matters. Maybe Trump is a liar too – they’re all liars – but Rand’s lie was abominable. If Trump were to lie in the same way, I’d forget about supporting him too.
The Supreme Court ruling of June 26th pretty much demonstrated that the Constitution is a dead letter anyway. The Constitution’s value isn’t objective, written into the fabric of the universe. It depends entirely upon our acknowledgement and faithfulness to it. I have no doubt that Trump would simply ignore the Constitution when it suited him. At this point, however, I think whomever we get is going to do that. Whoever sits in the Oval Office is going to do what he or she damned well pleases. That being so, I’d rather it be Trump than Jeb or Hillary.
*Trump is a protectionist!
Look, I’m just going to come out of the closet on this one: I don’t think protectionism is the worst thing in the world. Yes, in an ideal world, we would have 100% free trade. I can’t argue with the theoretical libertarian argument for free trade because it is correct. But we simply don’t live in that world.
Murray Rothbard once argued against “free trade” deals like NAFTA because they were essentially big government power grabs in disguise. But his solution, which was simply for the US to remove all tariffs, quotas, etc. wouldn’t make sense unless everyone else was willing to do the same. Much in the same way, for instance, it wouldn’t help for us to completely dismantle our military while other countries maintained their own.
Thus I get the sense that Trump’s protectionism is “defensive” and not rooted in some firm ideological commitment. He wants America to win at the game everyone else is playing and will continue to play regardless of libertarian objections. I can’t say I see the fault in that. Apparently in 2000 he wrote:
You only have to look at our trade deficit to see that we are being taken to the cleaners by our trading partners. We need tougher negotiations, not protectionist walls around America. We need to ensure that foreign markets are as open to our products as our country is to theirs. Our long-term interests require that we cut better deals with our world trading partners.
Meanwhile he has in the past proposed to eliminate the “death tax” and all corporate taxes to promote job growth. Sounds good to me.
*Trump is a social liberal!
People who know me know that I am a culture warrior. I would definitely love to have a president who is on our side of the culture war. I will settle for a president, however, who proposes not to harm my side. Trump is not ideological. It is the progressive leftist that poses the greatest threat to the culture I defend, of Christian virtue and morality, of the importance of faith and family.
On the major issues, Trump is pretty much mainline Republican. His comments on abortion in 2011 satisfy me as a pro-lifer.
“If you look at it, I said, ‘It really, really troubles me, and it really, really bothers me, the whole concept of abortion.’ This was years ago, and even then it really bothered me, but I went on the other side of the line,” Trump said. “But in thinking about it over the years, I’ve had instances, and one instance in particular, a friend had a child who they were going to abort, and now they have it, and the child is incredible. And the man, he changed his views also because of that.”
“As I’ve grown older, as I’ve seen things happen in life, I’ve changed my views
I don’t agree with his, or the mainstream GOP view, that there ought to be “exceptions” for prohibitions on killing unborn children. But no one holds the view I prefer, except maybe Rick Santorum – a guy who has no chance and who is a raving neocon on foreign policy. Trump has also stated that he supports traditional marriage. After the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Constitution on that issue, however, it is a non-issue. At least he won’t do more damage to it as President.
As for his three marriages, yeah. His personal behavior has contributed to the destruction of marriage. Three marriages, two divorces – I do not condone this. But is it a deal breaker? No.
*Trump will cost the GOP the election!
Maybe. But only if they force his hand. If the GOP refuses to let the voters decide, and decides to take direct action against Trump, it will suffer the electoral loss it deserves. It simply won’t do to claim that Trump isn’t a viable candidate, and then proceed to destroy him as if he were a viable candidate. Everyone knows that GOP attacks on Trump are premised on the idea that he might actually win the nomination.
So if Trump really sucks, if he isn’t the man to lead the party, the voters will eventually reject him. And if they reject him, he will go home and I don’t think he will muck up the general election with an independent run. If on the other hand the GOP goes out of its way to sabotage his campaign, Trump has indicated that he may well run as an independent out of spite. This would cost the GOP the 2016 election in the same way Ross Perot cost it the 1992 election.
*Trump is a racist!
Trump’s comments about the border were not racist, though he clearly could have chosen his words more wisely. No, I don’t believe that he believes that every Mexican immigrant is a rapist.
I have never been an open-borders libertarian. This is because I do not view liberty as an abstract ideal. It is rooted in a culture, and that culture will not survive open borders. Trump has repeatedly spoken in favor of legal immigration, and that’s fine with me. But our sovereignty is threatened by the openness of the southern border. This is not about punishing people looking for work. The Mexican drug cartels are de facto sovereign entities: they control large areas of Mexico with their own monopolies of violence, having fought the Mexican military to a standstill. They ought to be, if they aren’t already, classified as terrorist organizations and the might of the US military ought to be deployed against them instead of people 10,000 miles away who are no real threat to us. We need control of our border for reasons of security. If the state exists for any reason, it is to protect our lives and property from aggressors, which the Mexican criminal terrorist organizations certainly are.
It is also a fact that Mexico is dependent upon remittances from illegal immigrants working in the US, to the tune tens of billions of dollars annually. Libertarian arguments for open borders that presume only economic gains and no economic drawbacks don’t really seem to take this into account. That is money that isn’t being spent here. One can argue that one is free to work, live, and send money wherever they like – but one should at least admit at that point that they are no longer making a purely rational economic argument. One should also acknowledge that Mexican dependence upon remittances – and this is true of many other countries whose people come here illegally – provides a massive incentive for them to, as Trump has suggested, “send” their people here. That is, to tacitly approve their blatant disregard for our border and our laws. When Trump says “they’re killing us at the border” he has a point, even if he hasn’t really brought up the remittance issue. This leftist at the Daily Beast, while hostile to Trump, was also willing to attack the Mexican elites on this point:
Mexico gets the better end of the immigration deal since millions of people who probably couldn’t be absorbed by a fragile Mexican economy instead work in the United States and send home about $25 billion a year in remittances. That’s all gravy, with the only costs being whatever minimal amount the Mexican government spends to maintain a few dozen consulates in the United States.
Mexican drug lords aren’t threatening any of the other candidates. They’re threatening Trump, because they believe he will actually do what he says.
Conclusion: Trump is looking more and more like the sort of leader I think America needs. But he has one major weakness: his favorability ratings and how they play for the general election. Right now Trump’s numbers against Hillary are bad. I think he has been improving in this regard; he was down 17 points against Hillary in mid-July but now as we enter August he trails her by 12, if I am reading the polls correctly. Still, that’s a much larger gap than Bush, Walker, or Paul.
On the plus side, Hillary’s favorability ratings are in the toilet and only appear to be getting worse.
For the GOP nomination, electability is key – not policies, substance, rhetoric, money, or anything else. Electability. That’s how we wound up with McCain and Romney, and it didn’t turn out so well. Now, however, after 8 years of Obama and with Hillary floundering, I think it is a pretty important factor. Trump needs to improve his electability, which will be reflected in a closing gap in the polls between he and Hillary in the coming months. If this happens, I will have no problem supporting Trump. If it doesn’t, well…
I can’t stomach the idea of four or even eight years of Hillary. So I don’t think I can support a candidate who has no chance against her. So, we’ll see.