Donald Trump and Eminent Domain


I wrote earlier this week that voters who are expressing a preference for Trump, Carson and Fiorina are committing a critical error in their thinking – they are forgetting that every candidate runs as an outsider their first election, and that 95% of those candidates eventually become corrupted by the lure of power. I argued then that the relevant test is how a candidate stands up to the actual pressure of elected office, and whether they remain an outsider or become a crony capitalist like most of the other “outsiders” who come down the pipe.

Fortunately, with respect to Donald Trump, we don’t have to wonder whether he would abuse power for the benefit of himself and his friends once he assumes office (if he is elected). We have a pretty good pile of evidence already indicating that he would. Trump is in the rare position (as a candidate) that he has wielded enough influence as a private citizen to already create government abuses of power in his favor, despite having never held office.

One area in which Trump’s crony capitalist inclinations can clearly be seen is in his history of eminent domain abuses. David Boaz of the Cato Institute had a great piece this week on Trump’s history of eminent domain abuse, including the many ways in which he has persuaded governmental entities over the years to confiscate the private property of American citizens to benefit his real estate deals, including one especially egregious example in which he convinced the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to confiscate the house of a widow for a percentage of its market worth so that he could build a limousine parking for his Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.

More, Trump has publicly defended the confiscation of private property for eminent domain, even when the use for which the property is confiscated is purely private in nature:

Trump consistently defended the use of eminent domain. Interviewed by John Stossel on ABC News, he said: “Cities have the right to condemn for the good of the city. Everybody coming into Atlantic City sees this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good.” Challenged by Stossel, he said that eminent domain was necessary to build schools and roads. But of course he just wanted to build a limousine parking lot.

Once again, this is Donald Trump’s vision of private property rights when he was just another private citizen. Imagine how much more damage he could do as the leader of the Federal executive branch. In fact, I have heard many people wonder aloud whether Donald Trump even wants the job of being President, and if so, why.

Many naive people seem to be of the belief that Trump is in it to be the champion of the little guy. Nothing in his history suggests that it’s in his nature to even acknowledge the little guy in the slightest, unless it is to take the little guy to court to force the government to take his property. It’s more likely that Trump is seeking the office as a way to cut out the middle man than it is that he’s doing it for the altruistic benefit of middle class Americans.

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