Ever since last July after a very brief flirtation with considering Donald Trump as someone on my top 5 list of potential candidates, I’ve been in what some would call the “Never Trump” camp. Mind you, I was so opposed to Hillary Clinton that once he secured the nomination, I looked at viable 3rd party options. I found none, so while I didn’t support Trump, I wasn’t displeased that Hillary lost.
After he won the election, I took on an attitude of reserved judgment. Last month, I joined the chorus of people who were not necessarily supporting of Trump but who were willing to give him and the GOP majorities in Congress the time they needed to prove us wrong. What if he didn’t follow through with some of his dangerous promises such as bloating the budget or expanding the national debt? What if he came up with solutions beyond his campaign rhetoric that could actually solve problems with illegal immigration and terrorism?
In short, I was ready to watch carefully, hope for the best, and let it all unfold before assuming the worst.
The first four weeks since Trump won the election were not as I expected. I anticipated that he would tone down his attacks. After all, I assumed that most of his attacks were well calculated measures with which he was able to garner a good chunk of voters who admire his authoritarianism. I expected that he would use the time from the election until his inauguration to put his business affairs in order for this family to operate while he ran the country. I assumed he would make up ground on the knowledge gap that he demonstrated during the campaign. Lastly, I assumed he would work closely with his advisers and Mike Pence to put together a great team for his cabinet.
The last assumption is working out very nicely; his cabinet so far is as good as we would expect from any GOP President in the current atmosphere with the majority of his selections being good-to-excellent. On every other assumption, I was completely wrong. He hasn’t toned down. He’s ramped up his attacks for some strange reason. He hasn’t put his business affairs in order. Instead, he’s doing everything he can to stay embedded in his businesses. He hasn’t taken the time to learn the details required to lead the nation. If inside reports are correct, he’s skipped all but two or three national security briefings. By now he should have had as many as 20.
If his pre-inauguration prep was the only thing worrisome, I would likely still be defending him. Unfortunately, it’s much worse. His Carrier deal should terrify every fiscal conservative in America. He was elected to “drain the swamp” and fight corruption. Instead, he’s embodying the very corruption he swore to fight before he’s even in office. Crony capitalism is crony capitalism no matter how many jobs he’s saved in the short term. These are the types of deals that invariably cost even more people jobs and increase costs for consumers. This liberal practice is somehow being embraced by so many Republicans that I have to check and recheck the details just to make sure I’m not crazy.
Nope, not crazy. This is crony capitalism that rewards those who would threaten to take jobs out of the country while giving the shaft to those who want to stay.
Then, there’s his declaration of forcing businesses to stay or face sharp penalties. This populist attitude is the purest example of shortsightedness ever put on display by a President-elect. It’s the type of move one would expect from Bernie Sanders, not a Republican.
There are two ways to keep businesses operating in the United States. The liberal mentality is to use taxes, tariffs, and penalties against those who believe in free market capitalism. Going down this road has quick positive results and extraordinarily bad long-term results. The conservative mentality is to remove the taxes, regulations, and roadblocks compelling companies to leave so they’ll actually want to do business in the United States. Trump has chosen the socialistic approach, the “Berlin Wall” as Dan Alexander called it.
Last week, I was sick. I intended to write an article in defense of Trump asking conservatives and even liberals to give him a chance before assuming the worst. My illness allowed for Carrier and Trump’s proposed 35% “tax” to come to light before I wrote it. As a result, I’m not having to write a retraction today.
Trump is already acting dangerously, but there’s hope. If enough conservatives tell him and his GOP friends in Congress that we aren’t looking for more Obamaesque overreach and Sandersesque socialistic policies, perhaps he’ll come to his senses and actually do things that will help in the long run rather than the sweet instant gratification ideas he’s been floating since winning the election.