Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Is Donald Trump worthy of the liberty movement’s support?
Gary St. Fleur: Trump has the uncanny ability to be able to accomplish nothing while in office. Thus, in a sense, he can’t do a worse job than his predecessor. Congress will have to come to moderate agreements because neither party will receive any help from Trump.
Bric Butler: Trump is a force that can usher in an atmosphere of political incorrectness and a sense of nationalism, two things that the Left despise. Political correctness helps silence dissent to their destructive ideology of cultural relativism, and nationalism (which can be used for good though many libertarians disagree with such a claim) often feeds off patriotism which derives much of its glory from the past, which for America and many Western European nations include classical liberal values.
Dillon: Bric, to clarify, Trump’s brand of nationalism is good because it would recall a time when America didn’t suffer from such an overbearing federal government? The typical charge liberals make about Republicans is “They want to take us back to the 1950s!” They mean that in the social sense, but as far as the scope of government goes, I’d be OK with that because that would predate LBJ’s Great Society programs and other expansions of the federal government. However, I don’t think Trump is a social conservative, he has a history of progressivism on social issues, so that point is moot.
I’m willing to play Devil’s Advocate, if I can, for Trump as an advocate for liberty. I don’t think it would come from government though; more likely he would, as you say Bric, be a voice against PC like your buddy Milo Yiannippopatamus is. So, perhaps Trump’s contribution to liberty would come from refusing to use the federal government, unlike Obama and potentially Hillary, to advance a social justice agenda.
Bric: Yes. Trump cares 0% about most social issues and the few things he has said in the past year or so was to appeal to the damn evangelicals, and frankly I can’t wait for them to die. Trump’s brand of nationalism, I believe, has the ability to get America out of this dangerous postmodern nihilistic apathy, in which we are basically just choosing that we have to learn to live with terrorism (we may not say it directly as the French recently did but we still have made the same choice as of now) out of respect for “multiculturalism.” Such an attitude has also caused Americans, prompted by our leaders, to only focus on the worst parts of our history, like slavery and Jim Crow, which has under our first black president ignited race wars worse than any we have seen since 1968.
Trump would at least be tougher on terrorism. At the least, he will actually call it what it is: ISLAMIC terrorism, which our current leader refuses to do. Also, Trump, regardless if he truly feels this way in his heart or just falsely markets himself this way to appeal to voters, likes to praise America for its exceptional and good qualities and past events. An attitude that may actually inspire and remind people America is an experiment in political governance that we shouldn’t just sit back and give up on.
Nathaniel Owen: America’s exceptional past is a story of people doing the exact opposite of what Donald Trump envisions. I could not care less what his social policies are, as social policies tend to be poorly enforced and simply drive communities of dissenters underground. It’s his economic policies that are a slap to the face of rational policy. The cost of American domestic production is a travesty. Fees, taxes, and most importantly, barriers to entry have caused domestic production costs to be far too high. Goods produced in foreign regions are able to avoid a large number of barriers and ultimately the “Made in China” label is cheaper than the “Made in USA” label. And Trump’s solution is to equalize the price by forcing Americans to buy the overpriced domestic goods by forcing the price of foreign goods up through tariffs, with the hope that this will force cheap manufacturing jobs back onto domestic land. The absurdity of this plan is comical.
And, to add insult to this injury, use these hypothetical in-surge jobs to raise the minimum wage… again.
Gary: Indeed. I never thought it was possible in this day and age for tariffs to be given any consideration.
Martin van Staden: Donald Trump is simply anti-PC because of his character. I believe that if we go and have a one-on-one sit down with the man, and ask him “Woah, Mr. Trump, I love what you’re doing. How did you manage to rip the carpet from under the feet of these intersectional Critical Theorists?” he will ask “What does ‘intersectional’ and ‘Critical Theory’ mean?”
From what I can determine, the man has no principle and he has no depth. He does whatever he wants to win himself popularity. And it is in this that his danger lies. In the past, when I was younger and less libertarian, I used to complain to people that American politicians refer to the national Constitution too much. When I saw US politicians on TV or read about them online, it was always something about the Constitution. As I grew more libertarian I developed an admiration for the document and the American devotion to it (at least, the ‘apparent’ devotion). The amount of times I’ve heard Donald Trump mention the Constitution I can count on my fingers. When he said something Constitutionally relevant, it appeared as though he explicitly and openly intended to violate it. This did not signal malice to me, but rather a profound sense of ignorance. I believe wholeheartedly that the man does not understand the Constitution, the history behind it, or the constitutional development that has taken place since it was adopted.
His unpredictability, his lack of principle, and his lack of knowledge, make him a peculiar kind of dangerous, not unlike my very own South African president, Jacob Zuma. He is quite like Trump: he does not care what he says or how the media portrays him, he does not have a grasp of concepts like the rule of law and constitutionalism, and he has no guiding principle other than his desire to be reelected. This has caused massive damage to our economy and has spawned several radical Communist movements. Donald Trump is going to lose the election, thankfully.
As a Republican president he would be associated with conservatism, and by extension of the massive amount of libertarian support he has been receiving, also libertarianism. Congressional Republicans would unite behind their new leader and won’t stonewall him. Congressional Democrats won’t stonewall him because, when he does have policy views, they are Democratic policies. The federal government will become a united front. He would not win a reelection, and will most likely be the last Republican president for a while. After his one term, he will disappear from politics, shrugging off the damage his presidency has done to be borne by the conservative and libertarian movement. Nothing about Trump screams ‘champion for liberty’ at me. His anti-PC is a single issue point which does not redeem him in other respects. His ‘commitment’ to anti-interventionism also appears superficial to me. He will likely follow the lead of his neoconservative policy advisers in matters of foreign policy. He is a populist. There’s nothing more than that that really needs to be said. Libertarians have always opposed populism – apparently, that is, until the rise of Trump.
John Engle: The reason Trump is dangerous isn’t so much his contemptible policies, but rather his contempt for the Constitution itself. He clearly revels in executive power and has made it clear his intention is to rule (that’s rule, not govern) without the interference of Congress and other pesky checks and balances. I don’t think the idea that his behavior will destroy PC culture or wake people up is sufficient justification for creating a new presidential paradigm. We already have an imperial presidency. We don’t need to make it orders of magnitude stronger. Especially when we consider what powers Trump takes to himself not dissipating in the hands of a Democrat successor.
Nathaniel: I think the most dangerous example of this was his sudden commentary on NYSE Euronext.
John: He is not a non-interventionist at all. He just doesn’t want America paying the bill. He wants to replace the current American backed world order with one in which America demands tribute from other states to provide the same world order.
It’s very Roman.
Nathaniel: It’s hard to believe that I’d ever have to remind libertarians what “private” means. But, to quote myself for the sake of my narcissistic nature: “Private means private.” Indicating that one private entity should not be permitted to do peaceful business with another private entity without an almighty presence’s permission is the very core philosophy of fascism. Moreover, it’s a primary lever in the sphere of applied socialism. Markets can’t be steered but that doesn’t stop the ignorant from trying.
John: Maybe not fascism proper, but fascism light. It’s definitely corporatist.
Martin: But you see, I don’t think he’ll be able to tell you what any of those things are. If you trick him into believing corporatist means something good he’ll say, “Look, many people call me a corporatist. The best analysts. Maybe they’re right. I certainly believe corporations should employ more people. If corporatism means making America great again, then I’m certainly the best corporatist.” He’s a populist.
Gary: Trump’s ascendancy is more or less a manifestation of America’s dying civic sector. Sadly, I think many Americans no longer understand what it means to be a constitutional republic. Politicians have been promising the sky while delivering future destroying levels of pork and entitlements. People have begun to believe that the interventionist tendency of modern government is its proper role.