It’s certainly been interesting to watch Donald Trump’s popularity and performance in the months leading up to the presidential vote. He definitely fared better than I would have given him credit for. We’re just so used to seeing the same lame old establishment candidates locking up the nomination much earlier. I find it hard to take him seriously though. As unqualified and inexperienced as Obama was, I’m not sure Trump is in a different league. Here’s my take on several of his controversial stances and how his views support or differ from my own, and then more on what will likely happen in 2016:
- Leadership – I do credit him with really shaking up the establishment views on everything from immigration to pandering to Fox News. I mean, what kind of conservative candidate attacks the ONLY network that takes on liberals? Every other station is blatantly biased toward liberal candidates. He doesn’t shy away from controversy and taking on tough issues. To the contrary, virtually every other candidate tows the party line on everything from social issues to tax policy. On the left, Hillary has not said anything we would not expect once, she’s status-quo as well. Bernie is trying to shake things up a bit, but I feel like he’s actually been somewhat pandering to Hillary all along knowing she’ll win. Neither of them really attack each other hard, especially when he said “Americans are sick of hearing about emails” (which they’re not, she lied and broke the law yet again). Anyway, in terms of Trump, there’s no doubt he would take on tough issues and be tough with world leaders, Congress, whoever. The problem is, he’s often be wrong or uninformed.
- Immigration – This is probably Trump’s defining moment. He was the first and only politician willing to stand up and enough is enough. Legal immigration of skilled (and in manageable numbers, exiled/at-risk immigrants) is a net positive for the country. But unfettered flow of migrants, especially the likes of what Sweden, Belgium and many parts of Europe is seeing is a huge problem. It is a very net negative, both in terms of societal changes and financial burdens. He said what many are thinking and he has been the beneficiary of lucky timing with some very unfortunate events unfolding. Islamic terrorist events boost any candidate with anti-immigration views in the near-term. Then people quickly forget. But I can assure you (and they’re trying), if there’s a dirty bomb or much more horrific event in Europe or America again in the next few months, you’ll see him get another bump. For some reason, politicians on the left and right don’t want to say no to anything for fear they will look as though they’e not “compassionate” or greedy white politicians. But there need to be some honest questions around what mass immigration means for the West. First off, despite what you’ve been led to believe, the majority of the migrants showing up in Europe are not from Syria fleeing ISIS. That is a small minority. There is literally an unending flow of economic migrants from Norther Africa and many Middle Easter countries that have nothing to do with fleeing war. They simply want a better life (or the generosity of western social welfare). Given a similar situation you’d probably want the same for yourself or your family. But that does not mean the West can or should bear this burden for the world. It’s not sustainable and if you think it is, you either haven’t done the research or you are intellectually dishonest. There are simply too many, and given fertility rates in the developing world, there’s no end in sight. True solution here is capitalism, like how we’ve seen many poor countries pull themselves out of poverty and become independent. But many Muslim countries are in a unique situation in that education (outside of useless religious studies) is lacking and as such, migrants don’t assimilate well, nor do they bring the skills necessary for a 21st century economy. These aren’t platitudes. So, in essence, Trump has pointed out the problem with unfettered immigration and what it would mean for the US. While enthusiastic supporters may harbor racist/xenophobic tendencies, it’s hard to argue with the problem from a purely economic standpoint. Now, his claims around a wall on the Mexico border are kind of silly. Aside from the fact that motivated people just go over and under walls, it would cost Billions of dollars, never be done during his lifetime and of course, no, Mexico will not pay for it. It would do nothing to stop the flow of people back and forth over the border. A very simple solution would be to legalize drugs and penalize employers of illegal immigrants (and actually police our borders), but instead, this wall idea panders to medieval era reliance on walls for protection.
- Political Correctness – This is a welcome departure from the ever-worsening fear of offending someone. If something needs to be said, he’ll say it. I’ve tried to be this way in my life, but there are implications professionally and personally in saying things that are unpopular, even if they are right. For instance, my criticism of religion would not go over well in our 100% Christian social circle (I’ve yet to meet a single atheist out of the hundreds of people we associate with from sports teams, school, work, etc; I think some are skeptical but everyone else does it, they still go to church, etc.) and all the kids my kids play with. Surely, there would be some parents that think we are devil worshippers and their children would not be safe here, or that our children would share their heathen beliefs and taint their children, kind of like ruining Santa Claus like the one jerk on the school bus that does that each year for the young kids. And what’s going on these days in corporate America where everyone is afraid of saying the wrong thing for fear of losing their jobs and on college campuses, it’s in insane. On campus these days, someone simply writing Trump2016 in chalk brought on fear and crying (and counseling) for little snowflakes and any conservative or alternative thought is stifled. I think under a president that doesn’t give a crap and says people need to be able to speak openly, that could change. But under the current administration, where they refuse to even utter the word islamic terrorism, we can’t be honest.
- Abortion – It continues to baffle me that the leader of the free world is often elected based on their views on abortion, LGBT rights, etc., as opposed to what will really drive the future of the country in which direction from a fiscal, defense standpoint. But given that Americans put so much weight behind social issues (even though it’s usually that courts that decide such matters), Trump’s statements have not helped him. He’s really said a lot of conflicting things around abortion which have not helped him with either women, liberals (who may have considered voting for him if they can’t stomach Hillary), or bible-thumper staunch conservatives. He’s all over the place and did not have a coherent message, so nobody is satisfied. In my view, conceptually, where there is justification it is absolutely acceptable – medical reasons, rape, etc. In terms of convenience abortions (I know several women who have simply said it’s not the right time for them, not ready to be a mom, etc.), it is the wrong choice; I don’t see how any advocates take the moral high ground here. There is such a thing as taking responsibility and a life that could have been, but modern medicine has made it all too easy to make a choice to terminate. Legally though, it’s not practical to police women’s choices and criminalize a decision they make, and also, if you’ve read anything about what happens when millions of unwanted children either are or aren’t introduced into society and what the implications are from a crime standpoint 16-18 years down the road, check out the findings from Freakonomics. There’s a pretty strong case to be made that Roe v Wade is largely responsible for the massive drop we say in crime 2 decades later. It’s 2016, and America is the sole standout in the developing world that has not yet accepted the reality that abortion is here to stay. The sooner conservatives drop the issue and focus on fiscal, defense issues, the better off they will fare.
- “Violence at Rallies” – This is yet another nonsensical creation by the liberal media. Hilariously, you never hear the media decrying the violence of Black Lives Matters followers, or the Occupy this and that whiners that resort to violence when they don’t get their way. But the claim of violence at Trump rallies is clearly overblown.
- Trump Will Eliminate the National Debt – This is yet another silly claim that does not stand up to scrutiny. Trump’s been playing the game of making just one outrageous claim after another as if it it could come true. Virtually nothing he says about opening up existing trade deals or eliminating Trillions in debt will ever happen in our lifetime. Aside from the fact that we have already breached the tipping point in terms of demographics and obligations we have to social programs, America can’t undergo the kind of change it would take to reduce our debt dramatically. Hell, we can’t even stop it from growing! The best we can hope for is a slowing in the growth rate, kind of like maintaining the ability to continue making payments on my credit card interest payments, knowing you’ll never really pay them off. This is just reality, just like much of the world – governments and politicians make concessions and promises in order to get elected and maintain relative peace from their constituents, knowing full-well they cannot afford the promises they are making. This is modern democracy and it’s never going to change. Even Greece is still a going concern! Look what you can get a away with. Why would any modern political even want to attempt to reduce the national debt. There’s no upside and nobody has the leadership to take it on, not even Trump. By the way, numerically, it can’t be done in the 8 years he predicted. There is no legitimate economist or publication that is able to get to his numbers.
I could go on. In closing, I’d view Trump’s campaigning and candidacy as an eye-opening and refreshing development, but he’s not a serious contender for the presidency. He’s a clown, an entertainer to me. Maybe some of the positive (and needed) messaging he’s delivered will be incorporated into the policies of the presidential winner. Maybe not. But at least now, the frustrations and magnitude of voter discontent has been heard. Personally, I don’t even think he can make it past the establishment and there will probably be a contested convention where the nod goes to an established placed candidate. And then the election is handed to Hillary. More of the same. What a shame. But that’s reality.
What Are Your Thoughts on Trump?