Another leftist has won the White House.
Granted, Trump may not be as far left as Hillary Clinton on certain issues. But, then, neither is President Obama. As Marc Thiessen points out, Trump’s presidency will be in many ways “a third Obama term.”
Consider the evidence:
Trump promises to spend “at least double” what Hillary would have spent on new infrastructure projects. How will government pay for these projects? It will forcibly seize funds from citizens (via taxation or inflation), thus violating their rights.
Trump aims to increase the federal minimum wage by “some magnitude” so “the people” will have more money. This, of course, will increase rights violations by increasing the extent to which government forbids employers and employees to contract by mutual consent to mutual benefit. It will also increase unemployment by making more would-be employees unaffordable to employers. Wage control is a staple of the left.
So too is maintenance of entitlement programs. Here Trump promises to stop Republicans from tampering with Social Security, Medicare, or even Medicaid. He will “save” these coercive Ponzi schemes and unfunded liabilities from those who seek to wind them down. In regard to Social Security, for instance, Trump says that whereas “other people want to cut the hell out of it, I’m not going to cut it at all. I’m going to bring money in, and we’re going to save it.” Thus he aims to maintain the status quo in which government forces some Americans to pay for the retirement and health care of other Americans. In addition to perpetuating this massive violation of rights, Trump’s leftist approach to entitlements will drive today’s Americans and future generations ever deeper into debt.
As for Obamacare, Trump says he will replace it with a new scheme in which “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now”—and “The government’s gonna pay for it.” In other words, he aims to replace Obamacare with government-funded universal health care. Whereas Obama’s gang of statists could not make socialized health care work, Trump’s gang “somehow” will. Move over, Barack—The Donald’s got this.
Trump embraces the left’s MO with regard to freedom of speech as well. Free speech is fine, according to Trump—so long as it doesn’t involve writing “a hit piece” or saying something “mean” about him or his policies. Recall his threat to use antitrust laws against Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com to silence the Washington Post, and his desire to “open up the libel laws” so he can sue the press when they say things he dislikes.
Trump aims also to curb international free trade—as only a leftist would. For instance, he vows to “rip up” international trade agreements and to impose massive (up to 45 percent) tariffs on imports. This, of course, will violate rights and throttle producers. But leftists don’t care about rights or producers. They care about the “collective,” the “community,” the “common good,” the “nation.” Just as President George W. Bush “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” so too a President Trump will abandon free-market principles to “make America great again.”
What’s more, when such leftist policies are implemented by a Trump administration, they will amount to a double whammy against capitalism and in favor of statism. Because Trump is widely seen as a wealthy businessman—and is mistakenly regarded as a capitalist—the economic problems caused by his administration will be blamed on capitalism. Recall that the 2007–2008 financial crisis was and is widely blamed on capitalism because it resulted from policies of the allegedly capitalist Bush administration. Capitalism will continue to be blamed for crises caused by statists so long as Americans permit leftists to be called “rightists” or anything of the sort.
Making matters worse, President Obama paved the way for a President Trump to be much more dictatorial than he otherwise could have been. Obama’s unprecedented use of executive orders, executive memoranda, and executive actions to get around checks and balances, separation of powers—and all that principled stuff the American founders put in place to maintain the rule of law—has created an environment in which President Trump will be supremely situated to do the same. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” explained Obama, and I can use them “to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.” Soon President-elect Trump will have that same pen and phone. Think he might use them?
Granted, not all of Trump’s stated aims are leftist. Some are good. For instance, he says that he will free up the fossil fuel industry and enable more energy production. And he says he’s OK with people keeping their guns. But Trump can change these or any other positions on a dime. It’s not as though he sees any principles standing in his way.
If principles—such as the right to life, liberty, or property, or the virtue of honesty, integrity, or justice—had any bearing on Trump’s “thinking,” he would not have seized people’s property via eminent domain throughout his real estate career—but he did. He would not have spread conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz’s father during the 2016 presidential primaries—but he did. He would not have said, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it . . . but [then] they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength”—but he did. He would not fawn over the murderous dictator Vladimir Putin, saying, “It is always a great honor, to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond”—but he does. And he would not constantly flip-flop his positions per his whim of the moment—but he does.
Trump has no principles—unless by “principles” we mean: Might makes right—or: I’ll do whatever I feel I can get away with at the moment—or: Believe me, I’ll make everything work, I’m the best central planner.
Trump’s “principles” and political aims are essentially those of the left.
What does that make him?
Trump is a leftist. And it is important for advocates of capitalism to see—and to say—that he is.
If we want to fight for a free society, we must insist on conceptual clarity in the realm of politics (and the philosophic ideas that underlie it). Politicians who advocate statism—that is, government coercion of individuals or businesses on behalf of the “collective” or the “common good”—are leftists. Politicians who advocate capitalism—government strictly limited to the protection of individual rights—are rightists. Trump belongs in one camp and not the other.
Let’s identify him accordingly and be sure to correct others when they err on this count. Doing so is essential to holding the left responsible for the havoc their principles will wreak through the policies and actions of soon-to-be-President Trump.
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