The Party of Trump, Which I Cannot Support


Maggie Gallagher succinctly describes the Trump policy platform, inasmuch as it is possible to discern and predict:

Here is the new Party of Trump that we saw in this convention: liberal in expanding entitlements, pro-business in terms of tax and regulations, non-interventionist in foreign policy, socially center-left (with the possible, but only possible, exception of abortion).

Americans who pay attention to politics and policy tend to err, I think, in allowing themselves to be drawn toward the exchange of discrete, independent policies as a form of compromise.  I give you this social policy; you give me that regulatory reform.  That’s how we end up with a worst-of-all-possibilities mix of policies that, for example, encourages dependency while socializing the losses of major corporations, all to the benefit of the inside players who are well positioned to manipulate the system to serve their interests.

Broadly speaking, policies are components of a machine that have to work together, with a basic operating principle.  As the most-charitable interpretation, the machine that Gallagher describes is designed to drive corporations forward in order to generate enough wealth for government to redistribute as a means of providing comfort and accommodating the consequences of an anything-goes society, with the world blocked out at the borders and not engaged in socio-political terms so as to avoid bleeding of the wealth.  (The only difference between that vision and a fully progressive one is that progressives don’t want the machine to be independent, but to be plugged in as a component of a bigger, international machine.)

Put that way (again, most charitably), Trumpian nationalism doesn’t sound too bad.  Unfortunately, the lesson of the past few decades (at least) is that the machine doesn’t work.  The corporations recalculate to the reality that the politicians’ plan makes them (not the people) the engine of the whole machine, while the value of promising entitlements leads politicians to over-promise and the people to over-demand, particularly in response to the consequences of loose culture, while the world outside the borders erodes the supports of our society and allows implacable enemies to rally.

Now add in the stated intention of Donald Trump to actively agitate against members of his own political party because they show insufficient fealty, and the policy mix points toward disaster.  The aphorism that “success is the best revenge” is apparently not good enough for Trump.  More than that, though, from his late-night tweets about the pope to this planned attack on Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and some unnamed foe, Trump shows no realization that these leaders have supporters.  Trump is free not to respect Pope Francis, but his behavior shows that he has little concern for the vast world of Roman Catholics.  His own supporters Trump loves, and he’s happy to condescend to them; those who aren’t his supporters are either enemies or inconsequential.

Nobody should have any trust that they’ll continue to have Trump’s support starting the moment their interests conflict with his, and that has implications for the instructions he’ll attempt to give the machine.

Yes, one of the very few arguments in favor of a Trump presidency is that he may remind certain sectors of American civic society about the importance of the checks and balances designed into our system.  However, Trump’s behavior has also proven that we should not assume he’ll moderate or react well when the rules of the game are reinstated after having lapsed during the Obama years.

This isn’t to say that our electoral alternative is any better.  As I’ve written before, more than any I’ve ever seen, this election hinges on the timing of oscillating disgust with the two major candidates.  The wise move may very well be not to invest much wealth, energy, or emotion in the outcome, devoting personal resources instead to battening down the hatches.

  • Raymond Carter

    If “she” wins in January we will have a Supreme Court with 5 hard core Stalinists. This will be the end of the US as we know it-at least temporarily. Possibly the permanent end of the Republic, replaced by a totalitarian, race based third world dictatorship a la Venezuala.
    With Trump we will see judges who will need to pass through a Republican Senate. He has already posted a list of nominees and they are all great.
    Any questions?

    • Justin Katz

      While I share the concern about the Supreme Court, I just don’t find that argument persuasive.
      For one thing, I don’t trust Trump. I also don’t know how confident I am in the Republicans keeping the Senate this election, and I don’t trust them to hold Trump to a conservative justice.
      And don’t forget, there will be a midterm election. If Trump’s a disaster, voters will punish the GOP, and then Trump will have an excuse to put progressives on the court. If Clinton’s a disaster, she’ll get the same voter response as Obama, and a more-Republican Congress will be able to restrain her more, including with the courts.

      • Raymond Carter

        You’re thinking WAY too much, way to many “if’s”. If “she” wins there’s a Stalinist majority Court come January-no if’s involved.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Stay home! Great idea, why didn’t I think of that?

    • Justin Katz

      I’m not saying to stay home. I’m saying not to invest too much of yourself in this race, because it’s a likely disaster either way.

  • I find it rather sad that you are totally ignoring Governor Gary
    Johnson, Libertarian candidate for President, who will also be on the
    ballot in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

    • Justin Katz

      Johnson’s a possible protest vote. He’ll be my option if my disgust oscillation has me reacting against Trump at the time of the election. In general, though, I’m not sure I like the policy machine vision of the Libertarian Party much more than Trumpian nationalism.

  • Mike678

    I’ll probably vote Trump because he’s the least worse of the two contenders–Johnson is a spoiler. If the House and Senate can reduce the damage the current President has tried to inflict, they can do the same with Trump.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I’m voting for Trump hoping he will shake the system. I am also hoping the fallout will be positive. Perhaps I spent too much time watching “House of Cards” ( I also noticed that in the BBC original, “House of Cards”everyone kept their clothes on) I do fear that the “pros” in the Legislative Branch will end run him. That might be just as well, they are not supposed to take orders from the Executive.

  • Paul Kelly

    I look at Trump and Clinton this way.I know Trump is a flawed candidate. I do not agree on all his positions. But at least I can feel some what assured that he will try to follow a rule of law. I see Clinton, and I know who is funding her.A socialist agenda, set at changing our laws with the mere swipe of an executive order.Caving our economy in with further entitlements as we are 20 trillion in debt..I could go on and on. Watching this on TV makes me I’ll.I voted for Johnson in 12. More probably as a protest vote. This year though, the stakes are too high.