I have a lot of friends on social media, and one of the consistent themes I have found is that almost nobody takes Donald Trump seriously. By this I mean that they have not really stopped to contemplate what a President Trump would mean. What would President Trump actually do? And how different would he be from the other Republicans candidates we have seen lately, including Mitt Romney?
Let me start this post with the following important disclaimer: I am NOT going to vote for Donald Trump for president. As a libertarian/conservative, I oppose a lot of what Trump stands for, and my conscience will not let me vote for another person who does not understand the basic principles of liberty.
But in the interests of being somewhat of a contrarian and perhaps even literally a devil’s advocate, I would like to propose that most people have not adequately thought through what Trump would be like as president. Most of our dear readers have certainly not considered that he is not that different from the other Republican candidates out there.
Let’s consider Trump vs. Mitt Romney. In favor of raising the minimum wage: both Trump and Romney. Repealing Obamacare: Trump and Romney. Against illegal immigration: Trump and Romney. Likely to do deals with Democrats to “get things done:” Trump and Romney. Want to get “tough on China:” Trump and Romney. Want common sense tax reform: Trump and Romney. Lower the corporate tax rate: Trump and Romney. I could go on, but my point is that when it comes to the actual issues Trump and Romney don’t disagree that much.
When it comes to demeanor and style and honesty, I think Trump and Romney are exact opposites, and I definitely prefer Romney’s demeanor and style to Trump’s.
So, the Mormon love for Romney and disdain for Trump has much more to do with style than policy substance.
I would be willing to bet that very few of our dear readers have actually visited the Trump for president web site and looked at his positions on the issues.
Friends, if you actually read what Trump says on his web site, his positions are not that different from Romney’s. Yes, he says Mexico will pay for the wall on the southern border, and Romney is serious enough not to make this ludicrous claim. But how many times did Mitt Romney say during his presidential campaigns that we need to “increase border security?” Mitt Romney was also in favor of building a wall. So, the difference between Romney and Trump on this issue is: Trump wants Mexico to pay.
On the other major issues listed on Trump’s web site, Romney and Trump mostly would agree on: 1)China policy 2)immigration reform 3)the VA 4)health care reform 5)tax reform 6)2nd amendment rights. Of the seven major issues listed on the Trump site, Romney and Trump would (mostly) agree on all of them.
Now before some of my dear readers break their computer keyboards, let me point out that Trump is deliberately vague about many of his policies and regularly contradicts himself. He is also dishonest and loose with the facts. You would be an idiot to believe that Trump will actually keep his word. In fact, it is very difficult to predict exactly what Trump will do as president. So, I will concede this point, and, by the way, this is one of the reasons I will not be voting for him.
I hate to break it to you, but most politicians are dishonest and loose with the facts. And you would be an idiot to believe that they will keep their words. When I look at the national politicians who represent me in Colorado, my primary thought is: they are liars mostly motivated to get campaign donations from lobbyists. So I can’t see that much space between Trump and Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and most of the other people running for president. (Personal opinion: Mitt Romney was uniquely honest, which is one of the reasons I voted for him, but Mitt is not running for president in 2016).
But can you see that when it comes to actual policies promoted by the candidates there are more similarities than differences between Romney and Trump?
Let me point out another area of agreement that is not on Trump’s web site: Trump released his potential supreme court nominees, and conservative and libertarian types uniformly said it was an excellent list. A president Romney probably would have had a similar list. Again, Trump immediately walked back his list and kept open the possibility of appointing other people (see the whole deliberate vagueness and dishonesty paragraph above), but you must admit that when it comes to the federal courts Romney and Trump, on paper, agree more than they disagree.
Let me address foreign policy, which is an area with a lot of distance between Trump and Romney.
Romney mostly supported the establishment consensus that the United States should continue to be anxiously engaged in the Middle East and should see Russia as a threat. Romney supports NATO and the existing paradigm of the U.S. as the world’s dominant power. Trump questions all of this, and this is one of his greatest attributes in my opinion.
Trump asks five important questions about U.S. foreign policy. To summarize, they are: 1)Why must the US be the world’s policeman? 2)What is the purpose of NATO? 3)Why does the US pursue regime change? 4)Why does the U.S. treat Russia as an enemy? and 5)what is the purpose of our nuclear strategy? These are all good questions, and only Trump among major candidates is asking them.
My opinion is that the establishment is dangerously out of touch with how Americans feel about foreign policy. Trump proudly points out at his populist rallies that he opposed the Iraq war, and he always gets cheered by a mostly conservative audience. Americans are tired of paying for endless war without a clear end strategy, and Trump gets this.
This brings us to the greatest difference between Trump and Romney: Trump is a much, much better campaigner.
Before my friends destroy their computer keyboards yet again, I really encourage you to read Scott Adams’ blog. Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert and a trained hypnotist. He has been arguing since August 2015 that Trump would win the Republican nomination and the presidency in a landslide. So far, Dilbert’s dad has been correct. Perhaps we should take seriously what he has to say?
Scott Adams’ argument is that people do not think as rationally as we think they do. (As an aside, the fact that Trump and Romney agree on most of the issues — but this reality is denied by otherwise intelligent Mormon intellectuals — is a clear sign to me Scott Adams is correct). Adams says that Trump is a master persuader in the way a hypnotist or a marketing genius is a master persuader. Just to use one example, think of how Trump came up with nicknames for his opponents that has completely defined them. Jeb Bush: “low energy.” Ted Cruz: “Lyin’ Ted.” Carly Fiorina: “Robotic.” Like it or not, these nicknames remain in our brains and begin to affect how we see these candidates.
I completely agree with Adams on this issue. Most of my friends seem to think Trump is an idiot. I think Trump is brilliant, at least when it comes to marketing. And this gives him a YUGE advantage over Hillary Clinton in the general election. Admit it, dear readers, even if you are not voting for Trump you are looking forward to him eviscerating Hillary during the debates.
I predict Trump will be the next president. And I predict he will do some good things (change our warmongering foreign policy, tax reform, protect the 2nd amendment, mostly good federal judicial appointments, repeal Obamacare) and some very bad things (raise the minimum wage, compromise too much with Congress, insult foreign leaders, unnecessarily provoke Mexico, spend too much money, not cut government enough). So it will be a mixed bag. Just like it would have been with any of the other candidates, including Mitt Romney.