The case against Trump (part 1)

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m one of those Republicans who occupies the #NeverTrump camp.

Before I go any further, let me explain some basic math to you: 0+0 = 0. My not voting for Trump does not add one to Hillary Clinton’s column because I’m not voting for her, either. By the theory some on the Trump bandwagon are using to criticize #NeverTrump, my not voting for Hillary should add one to his total. But it won’t. I will vote for someone who I feel is the most qualified on the ballot, rather than the lesser of two searing-hot evils.

This election was supposed to be the repudiation of the Obama big-government, strongly executive agenda. Unfortunately, unless the GOP comes to its senses next week, frees the delegates, and comes up with a good conservative candidate, they will sink like the Titanic in November.

But I don’t come by my distaste for Trump lightly. While he has some redeeming qualities that could conceivably come into play on the slim chance he’s elected, there is the sense in my mind that he takes the ideal of limited government and wrests it from the domain of the GOP, leaving both major parties as two sides of the same worthless coin.

It’s likely you recall that I based my original endorsement (of Bobby Jindal, who is backing Trump but has been quiet about it) on the field’s positions on ten items, with a sliding scale of importance assigned to each:

  • Education
  • Second Amendment
  • Energy
  • Social Issues
  • Trade and job creation
  • Taxation
  • Immigration
  • Foreign Policy
  • Entitlements
  • Role of Government

So I went back and reminded myself. To avoid this being overly long, I’m doing the first five in this part with part 2 hosting the second half.

On education, Trump claims to be for local control and against Common Core, which is an orthodox Republican view. But even though he would “cut it way, way, way down” he doesn’t support the complete elimination of the Department of Education. He does have a good point in reversing the trend toward the government being a student loan lender, pushing it back to the banks and other lending institutions where it traditionally rested.

The problem with his approach is that it doesn’t go far enough. Other candidates vowed to finish the job Ronald Reagan vowed to start by eliminating the Department of Education. To me, the federal government has no place on education – states and localities should set standards and run their school systems as they see fit. But any attempt to wean local school districts off the crack of federal funding will be met with howls of protest and Trump fails to impress me as someone who will follow through with these promises. After all, Trump did say education was one of the top three functions of government. “The government can lead it, but it should be privately done.” I’m confused, too.

Trump seems to be a Second Amendment guy as he did get the NRA endorsement. But the chairman of Gun Owners of America was not as quick to praise The Donald based on his past statements. And again, the idea is not just to enforce the laws on the books but get rid of some of the most egregious, let alone get to “shall not be infringed.” But wouldn’t someone who is on the no-fly list in error be having their rights infringed? This observer asks the question.

And then we have the subject of energy. Now Trump went to North Dakota – a major oil producing state – and promoted his “America First” energy plan. In it, he promised “Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped.” But when he was in Iowa campaigning a few months earlier he threw his support behind a wasteful ethanol subsidy and carveout. So which is it? And would he allow Sarah Palin to sunset the Department of Energy?

On to social issues: Trump says he is pro-life and would defund Planned Parenthood, but how will he restore a “culture of life”? We don’t have that specific. Nor will be stand against the troubling idea of leaving people free to use the bathroom they feel like using – this despite claiming gay marriage should be left to the states – or is it the “law of the land“? (By that same token, so is abortion as it was based on a SCOTUS decision, too.)

So do you get the idea so far that I trust him about as far as I can throw him based on mixed messages and inconsistent policies? Once again, the idea here in the upcoming term was to reverse the tide of bigger, more intrusive government – but I don’t detect the same sort of impetus from Trump that I received from the candidates I favored. And to me, what would make America great again is for us to return to being good – at least in terms of re-adopting the Judeo-Christian values we’ve gotten away from after ousting God from the public square. I don’t see “Two Corinthians” but three marriages Trump as being a spiritual leader in the manner of a Reagan or George W. Bush, even insofar as being decent human beings.

And lastly for this evening, I’d like to talk about Trump on trade and job creation. Since history isn’t taught well, we tend to believe the Great Depression was the end result of the 1929 stock market crash. But there’s a convincing argument made that rural America took the biggest hit thanks to the effects of the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930. Granted, the world is a lot different and more interconnected now, but American farmers produce a lot of exports (as do chicken growers locally, as the products in demand overseas complement nicely with what we consume here.) Certainly a renegotiation of our current and proposed trade pacts is in order, but would Trump walk away from the table or just angle for any deal? And would he be against Trade Promotion Authority like he was as a candidate when he’s the president negotiating the pact? I doubt it.

And given the amount of union rank-and-file backing he seems to have, it’s no wonder he hasn’t come out more strongly for right-to-work laws, barely mentioning it during the campaign.

To many, Trump’s views on these subjects are on the outside of the range that’s acceptable to the standard GOP. And are they to the right of Hillary Clinton? For the most part, yes – but that assumes that he’s a man of his word and his business dealings suggest otherwise.

So in part 2 I will discuss the more important five issues on my scaling system, and this is where Trump really begins to sound like Hillary.

Dramatic foreshadowing

Crated by Bob McCarty of Bob McCarty Writes.

My blogging friend Bob McCarty created the image above, but there’s something much more serious afoot. The phrase “may you live in interesting times” continues to come to mind, because we do.

What image do you have of the Great Depression? In a lot of minds, the thought conjured up is people standing in bread lines, while others who invested heavily in the stock market and saw their fortunes wiped out in a day’s trading stepped off the nearest tall building.

So when Franklin D. Roosevelt became President, he eventually expanded a number of the measures put into place by President Herbert Hoover (a ‘progressive’ Republican) and created more governmental agencies and programs like Social Security, growing the government to new levels in an effort to bring relief. It was all designed so we’d never have to live in desperate economic straits again.

Well, guess what? We live in interesting times.

Since the housing boom began to go bust five years ago we have seen millions of jobs lost, entire neighborhoods become little more than a sea of foreclosed homes, local and state governments come under strain, and trillions of dollars in personal wealth vanish. Thousands of businesses – small and large – which thrived during good times closed up shop, their shuttered facades a grim reminder of the boom we no longer enjoy.

As Americans, we elected our current leader in reaction to the hopelessness and stagnation we felt under a recessionary economy being dragged down by a pair of wars in far-off, distant lands. His message of ‘hope and change’ was enough to convince the people to give him a try despite his being relatively untested and lacking executive experience.

Over the last thirty months, we’ve seen the results – more jobs lost, more foreclosures, and most certainly more government. TARP begat the Stimulus, which begat quantitative easing, which begat the recent debate over raising the debt ceiling. While the public doesn’t understand the ins and outs of the economic theory behind all these machinations, they completely understand the disappearance of their 401.k balances, the equity in their homes, and perhaps eventually their livelihoods.

Yes, we live in interesting times.

So where are we headed? Last year, Greeks rioted when their government had to enforce strict austerity measures at the direction of those who bailed them out. London erupted in its own strife over the weekend, perhaps due in part to bitterness among those down-and-out long-term jobless and others living on the dole – much of the destruction simply seems to be a cover for looting and theft.

The question to me isn’t IF this sort of situation will arise here on this side of the pond, but when and where?

While there’s at least one account of an “eviction riot” during the Great Depression, much of the unrest came in battles between workers and employers. Indeed, we have that same sort of tinderbox these days – just look at Wisconsin for a recent example. While labor demonstrations both there and closer to home were peaceful for the most part, what’s to say the next one may not spread from its original intent of showing Big Labor’s strength and turn violent? Of course, the TEA Party will get the blame, but in retrospect they as a community have been quite restrained considering they’ve borne the brunt of the economic damage caused so far.

I’m not an old man, as I’ll turn 47 next month. But it seems to me that I’ve seen a lot more trouble in the world over the last half-decade than I saw in any other time.

Bear in mind I came of age after the Vietnam War wound down, but I remember Watergate and the fall of a President. I recall the “malaise” we were in during the Carter years, and the arrival of “morning in America” with Ronald Reagan. We’ve had Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a number of terrorist attacks with the granddaddy of them all being 9-11.

After 9-11 we were frightened but we were ready to fight, even if we didn’t know just who the enemy was. Now we’re just plain scared and perhaps many are resigned to the fact that times will be hard for awhile to come.

Every year around graduation time, we reflect on what an 18-year-old American has and hasn’t seen in his or her life – for example, a person turning 18 in 2011 has no concept of the Persian Gulf War except in books. They’ve never known a world without the internet being commonly available, and their first memory of political scandal probably had to do with what the meaning of “is” is or whether the 2000 election was stolen or not.

But neither their lifespan nor mine is such that we’ve lived through an economic time like this – sure, things were tough in the early 1990s but “the worst economy of the last 50 years” had nothing on this. Unemployment was higher in the early 1980s but that recession was short-lived once Reagan’s tax cuts took hold and wealth trickled down. In this instance we seem to be attempting a new model of redistributing wealth which works for certain favored groups – others, not so much.

Undoubtedly, we as Americans will find our way out of our economic slump. But whether that day will arrive in time for many Americans on the verge of losing everything is the key question, and the answer may be in whether cooler heads will continue to prevail.

We live in interesting times, and it’s likely our children will too. But the curse could eventually turn to a blessing if we solve the problem properly.