Conservatives longing for the antiobama have for a moment seized on Donald Trump. Trump has promised to intervene in the economy in ways not even Barack Obama has tried. Trumponomics is bad, but attacking the people who don’t understand why it’s bad will send voters running along with him when he inevitably drops out of the Republican primary to run as an independent.
Believing him to be fellow conservative, many have latched onto Trump’s fame, wealth, and brashness and stand against illegal immigration not only as an antidote for the poison of Barack Obama and the Democrat media, but as a slap to the Republican establishment, as well.
Most GOP pols won’t touch this issue, which pairs the risk of scaring off immigration-dependent donors with the added danger of being called racist by Democrats. Trump doesn’t care, so he is willing to raise the issue anyway. And he has done so effectively: Two weeks ago, the immigration template involved stories about “DREAMers” who want to go to college; now it involves multiple-arrested undocumented immigrants who kill women. Trump might not be the ideal candidate of the Republican Party’s discontented members either, but, again, they’re grateful that someone is talking about their concerns instead of trying to bury them.
Grabbing the media narrative by the tail and shaking it hard, Trump has shot up in the polls. As everyone who thinks about it for a couple of seconds has said, much of that poll support is also based on name recognition at this early stage. But there is something real going on: people are tired of deceitful politicians in both parties telling them what is not so is so.
When Trump announced his intention to run for president in June, he promised a 35% tax on imported car parts. He said he’d call up the “head of Ford” and say:
“Let me give you the bad news: every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax — OK? — and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction,” Trump said. “They are going to take away thousands of jobs.”
If, as Trump suggests, it’s only a threat, it’s either an empty threat with no effect or a serious one, the implications of which must be explored. There are many things wrong with the idea, but here is what springs to mind first:
- Have we not had enough of politicians manipulating and distorting the economy with the stated purpose of saving or creating jobs, but with the actual purpose of saving or creating votes?
- If we put a tariff on foreign cars (or car parts), it would make foreign cars more expensive, and domestic cars that use foreign parts more expensive. That would allow domestic makers who use more domestic parts suddenly to charge more for a product that is no different. Trumponomics would make everything more expensive.
- If we put a ‘uge, classy tariff on foreign auto parts, foreign countries would retaliate with tariff or trade restriction of their own. Trade wars have no winners.
Another war of sorts erupted in the right-blogosphere, starting with the perceptive Jonah Goldberg, who says Trump fans need an intervention. Trump has a veneer of conservative ideas, but without a real conservative world view. Like Mitt Romney, Trump will soon find himself out of his depth. In a general election contest with a True Believer leftist, Trump would not be able to articulate conservative ideas. One area in particular in which Trump falls down is economics:
People tout the guy’s business record. But he represents almost exactly what his supporters think he opposes. He’s a crony capitalist par excellence. He gives to whatever politician can grease the skids for his next deal — and he makes no apologies for it. He’s an eminent-domain voluptuary. He abuses bankruptcy laws like a stack of homemade get-out-of-jail-free cards.
The normally level-headed Kevin Williamson then jumped on Trump’s fans with both feet.
You know the RINO — Republican In Name Only — but you may be less familiar with the WHINO. The WHINO is a captive of the populist Right’s master narrative, which is the tragic tale of the holy, holy base, the victory of which would be entirely assured if not for the machinations of the perfidious Establishment. Never mind the Democrats, economic realities, Putin, ISIS, the geographical facts of the U.S.-Mexico border — all would be well and all manner of things would be well if not for the behind-the-scenes plotting of [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] (R-KY), [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] (R-OH), and their enablers, who apparently can be bribed with small numbers of cocktail weenies. The WHINO is a Republican conspiracy theorist, in whose fervid imaginings all the players — victims, villains — are Republicans.
I don’t know about cocktail weenies, but I do know that Republicans accepted Obama’s Obamacare bribe, allowing Congress to claim itself to be a small business in order to have member and staff Obamacare paid for by the taxpayers.
The primary problem with Williamson’s approach is that insulting people doesn’t make them want to vote your way. It doesn’t do any good to say, “Well, they never would anyway.” Why are you even concerned with what they do, then?
People are fickle, and want to back a winner. But if they are insulted, they will simply not vote. You can say they should, but that’s not how our system works. Candidates — and parties — must inspire people to vote.
In particular, if you use ridicule, you send a strong signal that a person’s opinion doesn’t matter. How, then, can you ask them to vote your way, for what is voting but the registry of an opinion?
Try not to use ridicule against those you desire as allies. Try not to insult voters. Try to find issues on which Trump’s voters agree with conservative Republicans and talk about those issues.
2016 is going to be a hard fight. We need anyone we can get to vote for what we want, even if we all disagree about why.