As an advocate of individual liberty and constitutionalism, I find a lot to dislike, or at least distrust, about Donald Trump’s coming presidency. Though he and his closest advisors pay lip service to a smaller Federal government, there aren’t many indications that he’ll really do much in that regard. Obamacare is an atrocity and should be repealed outright, but Trump’s repeated insistence on replacing it at the Federal level doesn’t instill confidence in his understanding of the constitutional limits on the Federal government’s power. Further, using the bully pulpit to coerce businesses to do that which they don’t deem to be in their best economic interest isn’t the hallmark of one who genuinely believes in economic liberty or the benefits free markets render to society at large.
I hear the oft repeated mantra’s…‘he’ll be far better than Hillary’ and, ‘it’s all about the Supreme Court’. I get it. But I’ve long recognized that the U.S. has, since at least the 1930’s, always taken at least two steps toward statism for every opposite step towards a return to constitutionally limited government. If one were to construct a graph with the horizontal axis representing time from 1936 to the present and the vertical axis representing the relative degree of statism, the graph would reflect a clear trend to greater degrees of statism. Sure, you would see momentary diversions representing brief respites, but they’d all be followed by a return to the trend line which has consistently led to bigger and more intrusive government and less individual liberty. Nothing I’ve heard from Donald Trump suggests to me that he’s going to do anything to change that trend line. In order to change it, the American people must be persuaded to the societal benefits of liberty and dissuaded from the false promises of supposedly well intended coercion founded only on the immoral premise of democracy. Donald Trump is not the President who will lead that effort; not because he isn’t capable, but because he doesn’t believe in it. I’m happy that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected. And I’m glad at the prospect that Trump’s judicial appointments will likely be better by comparison. But these will be among the many respites; comforting, but fleeting. Ultimately, a return to the trend line awaits.
So why have I enjoyed the Trump pre-presidency so much? This question has perplexed me. The very substantial degree to which I’ve enjoyed Donald Trump’s post-election period as president elect isn’t warranted by my assessment of his ultimate effect on our ever rising trajectory into greater degrees of statism. So what’s going on? What is it that I like about Trump?
I’ve come up with two primary factors. The first is obviously important and a credit to Trump – he is a constant and vocal opponent of global government and we need leadership on that point right as never before. Though nationalism has understandably earned a bad connotation in many contexts, it has taken on a crucial legitimacy as a response to governmental globalism. When ‘nationalism’ means respecting the Constitution and American statutory and common law as the only legitimate law of the country and rejecting efforts of globalist to allow treaties or United Nations pronouncements to effectuate even the subtlest of influences on our unalienable rights, nationalism is a very good thing indeed. Preserving the United States as a nation state, sovereign and unyielding in the face of any global efforts to infiltrate our substantive law is critical.
Though important, Trump’s anti-global government stance isn’t enough to explain the pleasure I’ve had in witnessing his pre-presidency. It’s the second factor I’ve identified which appeals to my base human impulses and thus better explains my enthusiasm. Better yet, on reflection, it may actually provide some hope for a future different than I would have supposed just a few months ago.
In short, I like how he’s sticking it to the worst elements of the left. Those watching the media and the public reaction to it over the past decade may reasonably have concluded that too many of the American people have stopped thinking for themselves. The left leaning national media seemed to have an almost magical ability to define the issues worthy of public attention and then set the narrative as to those issues. Similarly, leftist academic speech police and self-appointed enforcers of political correctness seemed to have acquired the ability to thwart the free exchange of ideas whenever their personal sensibilities were offended or the legitimacy of their perspectives were threatened.
Trump has demonstrated that the national media doesn’t necessarily control the narrative and that perhaps the ‘thought police’ are all bark and no bite. Just maybe there aren’t quite so many stupefied citizens who blindly follow the prompts of the national media and leftist elite. Maybe good people just needed a champion to give them a voice. I understand the concerns over his sometimes heavy handedness but I have to wonder whether he would be so successful in foiling the leftist machinery without the entertainment factor. Let’s face it, people like it when bad actors get called out and exposed. Trump’s brashness may be a necessary ingredient in his recipe for success.
The important question for the future is this: has Trump set a workable example for how others might successfully neuter the national media and leftist elites? If we ever manage to elect a President who will work to persuade people to the societal benefits of liberty and constitutionalism, can he or she learn from Trump’s example in order to deny the left the power to control messaging and impose sanctions on those with whom they disagree? If so, that may ultimately be the prevailing legacy of his presidency, and a worthy legacy that would be. If the Trump experience permanently exposes the fallacy of the leftist elite’s ‘authority’, if he enables the American public and those in positions of power and influence to not only see, but comfortably declare, that the emperor’s new clothes are imaginary and the leftist elites are naked of the power which they have presumed for themselves and in which too many have acquiesced for too long, then he will have provided at least one great and lasting service to his country.
In the meantime, I hope to continue to enjoy watching the leftist elites flounder as they employ their old playbook over and over again to no avail while I wait with fingers crossed to see what Trump’s presidency actually brings.