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Donald Trump: A Know-Nothing for the 21st Century

Donald Trump: A Know-Nothing for the 21st Century

3 Mins
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August 31, 2015

Donald Trump has jumped into the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination with a splash. His current front-runner status reveals the ugliest side of the Republican coalition: the die-hard faction of nativists and collectivists. He's a “know-nothing” for the 21st century.

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The fans of Trump don't support all his policies: Trump doesn't have principled policies, But many Trump supporters don't care. Trump draws support beyond the Republican core from what the Pew Research Center calls “disaffected,” people who feel alienated from politics and society.

TRUMP'S KNOW-NOTHING FANS

When Trump describes the politicians as “stupid,” the disaffecteds cheer. That's socking it to Washington! That's talking straight! The truth is, that is a school-ground insult from a man who doesn't have a better answer to what is ailing the country.

When Trump declares that he will expel all illegal immigrants, the racists and nativists cheer. Trump will save America for real Americans! Never mind that no administration has had the budget needed to do this task. And to do it would require creating an intrusive police state that would destroy the last vestiges of independent living in America. And for what? To elevate native-born Americans against immigrants, no matter their worth.

A President Trump would be a disaster. His instincts are dictatorial.

When Trump declares he will raise tariffs, the protectionists cheer. Never mind that limiting trade is like trying to give oneself a hand by shooting oneself in the foot. The only winners from reducing trade will be cronies who can operate the system, while everyone else pays. Come to think of it, this sounds like the history of many Trump projects. Trump has been a master operator in the New York real estate market: one of the most controlled in the world, where pull and deal-making with officials are simply the way anything gets done.

REPUBLICAN NATIVIST CONSERVATIVES

The Republican coalition has always had a pro-business wing, one that is often pro-free-market. But since the 1970s, it has made its biggest inroads in the South, picking off the cultural conservatives there from their post-Civil War allegiance to the Democrats. This has helped make it a home for white cultural conservatives who favor faith and tradition over other people and values. When Trump says he will make America great and limit foreign influence, Trump is speaking to these values. When he fires off random thoughts that offend vast swaths of the populace and that some call idiotic, his fans sympathize: they are politically incorrect sometimes, too.

Racists and nativists cheer Trump.

A President Trump would be a disaster. His instincts are dictatorial: he views the job as being CEO of the country, but a CEO is like an emperor, not a constitutional executive in a system of separated powers. A President Trump could significantly increase state control over us, expanding the powers of the Presidency and corrupting the rule of law, all for the sake of goals that will make most of us suffer greater poverty and insecurity. That is a recipe for destroying the American spirit, not making the country truly great.

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