Monday, May 16, 2016

Trump 'Recogito'

Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Trump Recogito
May 16, 2016

Alice: ‘This is impossible!’
The Mad Hatter: ‘Only if you believe it is.’”
                                                                                                                    Lewis Carroll

“I hope you consider reconsidering your decision.”
                                                                                                                   YC the Cynic (Matthew Jefferson)
                                                                                                                   American hip hop artist
                                                                                                                   From “Hvnly”

If you have concluded that Donald Trump’s gibberish about Muslims, trade wars and the building of a wall along the Mexican border and asinine assurances that he will “make America great again,” render him unfit to be President, as I had, you may want to reconsider your position.

First, he is the choice of the people, and second, his likely opponent will be the morally corrupt prevaricator, Mrs. Clinton. We can debate endlessly the cause of Donald Trump’s rise from real estate mogul and media star to presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States. But the people have spoken and he is their choice. Republicans may, on policy and personality grounds, disapprove of Mr. Trump. That is their right. But beware of those who condescendingly bewail the choice as based on the ignorance of voters or, at best, a shallow understanding of the issues. Those who do so are being contemptuous, not only of the will of the people, but also of the collective wisdom of the electorate – dangerous steps in the abandonment of democracy.

The media has focused on Mr. Trump. He sells. Mrs. Clinton does not, yet they prefer her. They have largely ignored the dissembling nature of her e-mail shenanigans, her lies about Benghazi and the cronyism embedded in the Clinton Foundation. They have been dismissive of Bernie Sanders’ rising popularity. The Vermont socialist won Indiana by five percentage points and West Virginia by fifteen. Of the last sixteen primaries, he has won ten. Mrs. Clinton represents the status quo. She hews to a path carved out by Mr. Obama, a path that has produced the slowest economic recovery in the post-War years, a Middle East that has tumbled into chaos, a widening of income and wealth gaps and an electorate and political establishment that is the most divided since the Vietnam War.

Mrs. Clinton is being pushed to the left. Recently she suggested that Medicare (a program with enormous unfunded liabilities) be expanded to include all those over fifty – a step toward a single-payer system. She ignores the consequences her proposals place on future generations – the vicious cycle that dependency on the “nanny” state represents: Transfer payments must be paid for with increased taxes. Increased taxes reduce economic growth, which means more people become dependent on the state. That, in turn, creates the need for even more taxes and a concomitant reduction in economic growth. It is a whirlpool that spirals down. There is a balance to be found, but two percent GDP growth over the past seven years of economic recovery suggests the pendulum has swung too far to the left. Expanding entitlements leads the country in the wrong direction. Another four years (not to mention eight) of the Obama economy will sink this country into the mire that is Europe. We need a fresh start, another “morning in America.”

Is Donald Trump the answer? I don’t know. Would he be my first choice? No. I would rather a candidate that reflected my preferences: limited government; rule of law; fiscal responsibility; reformed and simplified regulatory and tax policies; an education system that puts the needs of students above the wants of teachers’ unions; an immigration plan that is welcoming but selective; free trade; a foreign policy that is engaged, robust and that recognizes the role we must play as the world’s most powerful nation; and a moral code based on universal values, one that abandons multiculturalism and does not tolerate the intolerant.

But we must play the hand we have been dealt. Mr. Trump, from what I can tell, is a man without ideologies. Pundits and others ask him how he stands on issues important to them: trade, immigration, tax policy or the rights of transgenders. His answers are muddled and often contradictory. He spouts one-liners, giving his audience no hope of parsing what he says. In governing, will he be as spontaneous and glib as his inanities suggest? I don’t know, but I suspect not. Like Presidents Eisenhower and Clinton, Mr. Trump is driven less by ideology and more by the practical necessity of exercising power. Dangerous leaders are those that evolve from extreme ideologies. When the ideological alternative is extreme, I prefer the pragmatist. Mr. Trump may not advance the conservative agenda, but he will not persist down the current path. Karl Rove, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed wrote that Mr. Trump has not yet convinced enough people that “he is the man to set America back on track.” That may be so, but first we must de-rail the track we are on, a feat for which Mr. Trump seems ably competent.

I have written about Mr. Trump several times in the past. Last August (The Phenomenon that is Trump), I suggested he may be a demagogue. My concerns were that his entreaties were to emotions, not intellect, and that he appealed to those who preferred to be led rather than guided. I believe I was wrong. A demagogue suggests an ideology, an individual with a messianic belief that they are ordained to lead us. But Trump is more of a wrecking ball. He wants to tear down what does not work, then replace what has been razed with more workable alternatives. We do have a bloated government. It is comprised of cronies. It needs reorganization. Government has become “the arbitrary obstacle” Milton Friedman warned about, which blocks people from realizing their ambitions. As we know from the Clinton Foundation and the Panama Papers, government works for those on the inside. Never has it been so easy for politicians to become rich. But the system has not worked for the people. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that median U.S. household incomes, adjusted for the cost of living, fell in 190 of 229 metro areas between 1999 and 2014. It has been that failure which has fueled the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald trump. As well, policies of the Obama Administration have encouraged the fascist-like stance of “political correctness,” which has stifled dissent and suppressed free speech. To elect Mrs. Clinton will further erode personal liberties.  

There are a number of conservatives whom I respect that cannot bring themselves to support Mr. Trump. I appreciate their views. He is vulgar and insulting. He does not reflect my values. We could never be friends. But his opponent’s hypocrisy is worse. Like so many on the left, she preaches equality but practices the cronyism (and the inequality that comes with it) she claims to abhor. Mr. Trump may not be the ideal candidate, but he is the people’s choice, and the alternative is worse.

Maintaining the current path only deepens divisions and widens the gaps between the governed and the governors. It is not only world peace and the economy that are at stake, it is the fundamental principles of freedom and democracy that are at risk. Should we forsake our past and allow multiculturalism be our moral guiding star? Lagging economic growth, with non-discretionary items rising as a percent of the federal budget, means we are headed for a difficult place. The longer we delay needed corrections the more damaging will be their consequences. I would prefer that options were different, but if the choice is Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump, I will hold my nose, hope for the best and pull the lever for Mr. Trump.

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