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Trump and Traditional Republican Values

Republicans have always been for limited government and a free market. The ideal Republican Supreme Court Justice does three things: preserves states’ rights over federal government overreach, interprets the constitution according to the exact words and the supposed intention of its writers, protects individual rights from government curtailment. Republicans’ biggest bogeymen are government regulations, government intervention in the free economy, and laws that restrict individual freedom. President Donald Trump has turned these values on their ear.

Instead of a free market, Trump has imposed onerous tariffs on imports from China, Europe, Canada, Mexico and other parts of Asia. When portions of the American economy have been hurt by such tariff’s, such as farmers being unable to sell their products overseas, Trump has offered a $12 billion dollar bailout, based upon a program that was instituted in the 1930’s by FDR to combat the depression. This is not different in philosophy, although it is clumsier, from China’s plan to inject cash into its economy to offset loss of growth by slowing of its exports to the U.S. because of the tariffs. Both are symptoms of what Republicans have always feared: a managed economy.

Big Brother is the ominous threatening presence of a Communist-style dictatorial central government in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Big Brother allows no dissent, and punishes those who criticize or even question the government. Big Brother promotes Newspeak, simplified conversation about complex issues and blatant claims of truth for falsehoods and vice versa (called variously blackwhitegoodthink and doublethink). The horrors of 1984 are what our Bill of Rights and our free press protect us from. But Donald Trump has labeled much of the mainstream press “fake news”, restricted questions and access by reporters or media he dislikes, reportedly demands his cabinet and traveling retinue only watch approved TV channels, and most recently, has threatened the removal of their security clearances from former government officials who have publicly criticized him. These are the acts of Big Brother.

Our Constitution describes a federal system in which states retain the right to manage many of their own affairs without being dictated to by the federal government. This has always been staunchly defended by conservatives and libertarians, who routinely respond to questions—related to abortion to gun control to healthcare— about the determination of which laws should apply or not by saying “let the states decide.” Donald Trump wants to dismantle environmental protections, including pollution standards imposed at the federal level by previous administrations. In fact, he is doing so. But California has its own regulations on these issues in areas such as auto emissions. For 48 years California has written its own regulations and has been issued a waiver allowing its regulations to differ from the federal ones. This has made California the leader in clean air protection. The Trump administration is mandating that California’s right to determine its own regulations, which are stricter than the federal ones will be, should be ended. The Trump era EPA under Scott Pruitt has already ruled that portions of the Clean Air Act related to auto emissions standards do not need to be enforced. Trump’s actions in curtailing California’s right to legislate its own environmental standards, flies in the face of “states’ rights” claims traditionally made by conservative Republicans. Under the guise of de-regulation, Big Brother is extending the reach of the federal government into areas traditionally controlled by individual states. 

Many Republicans of the present day don’t like China, or Mexico, or Canada or the EU. They say they are for free trade, but as long as government tariffs are aimed at those they consider enemies of the U.S., they are willing to support them. The freedom to speak one’s mind and criticize the government without fear of retaliation is at the heart of the American concept of freedom of speech. Republicans have always been as vocal as anyone in defending this freedom. But again, when retribution for speaking out is aimed at those people that conservatives and Republicans disagree with, they go along with it. States’ rights have always been high on the list of Republican and conservative values, but no one on the right trusts or likes liberal California and what they consider its climate-change hysteria. So in this case, the federal government trampling states’ rights is OK. 

The truth is that Donald Trump voices the prejudices of his Republican supporters, while he violates their traditional values. Too many of his supporters have chosen the prejudices over the values and this is allowing the president to move in the direction of a Big Brotherish dictatorial use of power in ways no one in either party would have countenanced in the past.


Reader Comments (2)

If President Trump were a true dictator, half the people in this country would be dead, imprisoned or forced by gunpoint into an unwavering compliance with his views. Even the other portion of the citizenry that favored some of his views and policies would be in positions of perpetual uneasy fealty. The actions you're using to make it appear as if President Trump is conjuring the spirit of Big Brother are rather commonplace political maneuverings utilized by many of his predecessors. President Obama loathed Fox News and stated as such on multiple occasions and often refused to allow Fox correspondents questions. Such petty antics, by any president, have very little effect on a free press. The American press is free to say or write whatever they want, unlike the British press, which must often kowtow to its partisan government. So, the comparison of President Trump with the tyranny found in 1984 is tepid at best.

Most mainstream news is practicing less journalism and more activism than at any other time in history. For me, most news sources are simply amusing spins and hyperbolic soundbites on events that have occurred. I prefer to watch or listen to unfiltered recordings of as many news events as possible.

I think that most Americans, Republican and Democrat, support the idea of instituting fair trade policies which ultimately will lead to free trade. if you're the only business in the neighborhood that's getting taxed, you're at a distinct disadvantage until you can figure out how to either get everyone else to pay the same tax rate or by ending taxation on everybody. Then, free trade can take place.

The most vexing piece of this commentary is when it's stated that conservatives and Republicans seem to abandon the concepts of free speech when their political opponents are being punished for speaking out. This is stated without any supporting examples to undergird this contention. I see people from the right seeking to engage in dialogue and debate with people from all political spheres and very often being derided, attacked and shut down in these efforts. Leftist speakers seem to predominate on college campuses without issue as well as being able to speak at political rallies with very little show of opposition. I want all views to be be fully heard, be they far left, far right or centrist. The best seeds of thought will flourish, the remainder will become dessicative fodder.

The most humorous comment in this piece is the statement "The truth is that Donald Trump voices the prejudices of his Republican supporters, while he violates their traditional values." Firstly, this is not truth in the slightest, but is instead, wildly speculative, unsupported opinion. Secondly, the supreme incongruity of this claim defeats itself. The prejudice required by the author in assuming an inherent prejudice among the the president's Republican supporters is an example of an unchecked and illogical thought pattern that seems undaunted by any coherent system of fairness and decency.

That being said, I'm always glad to read the views expressed on this website and happy to offer what seems a less common political viewpoint than those held and expressed by most of the readers and respondents who come here.

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

I’m always glad to hear your views, though we usually disagree.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Dorman

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