July 13, 2015

Donald Trump and the explosion of Republican orthodoxy

MJ SheppardRebel Blogger

Donald Trump tells us that he thinks that he should be the next president of the United States. 

Donald Trump also bankrupted a casino. Let that sink in for a minute. Consider the almost herculean effort it takes for the house to lose money on gambling to the point that it has to go out of business, because registered Republicans apparently haven’t. Ladies and gentlemen, friends and neighbors, according to multiple polls, Trump is your new GOP frontrunner.

In the age where the low information voter is king, how far Trump goes in the primaries is entirely up to Trump. Personally, I don't believe that he's serious enough to subject himself to detailed financial disclosure and the ridicule that would result from it. For example, the Donald is worth nowhere near his stated $9 billion, and he only got that number by valuing his name at $3.5 billion. Since Trump doesn’t take mockery well, I believe that he'll drop out in about 90 days.

But what if I’m wrong? Trump, whatever he’s worth, has enough money to self-finance through the convention, and run as an independent if he doesn’t cotton to the eventual nominee.

Trump isn’t much of a Republican but, as of late, neither are most Republicans.

Commentary is rending its garments over Trump’s donations to several high profile Democrats, but that’s undercut somewhat by the party’s almost schizophrenic populism. Republicans regularly denounce “crony-capitalism”, but their policy agenda continues to further the idea that corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want, frequently at taxpayer expense. They decry bank bailouts, but seem to ignore that the term “Too Big to Fail” might actually mean what it implies, thereby guaranteeing that another round of bailouts will someday be necessary.

Republicans generally, and the Tea Party in particular, believes that corporations are people with inalienable speech rights, so long as they’re donating money to Republican candidates and causes. However, when they speak their minds on gay rights or the Confederate flag, they suddenly become enablers of “liberal fascism.”

Like many Republicans, Trump extols the virtues of “traditional marriage”, despite being on his third one. And so, too, do many “values voters.” Jesus didn’t have much to say about homosexuality, but he was hard to shut up on the subject of divorce. It was notable that among the Republicans on the presidential debate stage in 2008, the only ones still in their first marriage were a Mormon, a Libertarian who didn’t care about the issue much and Huckabee.   

Trump’s answer to almost any controversy with foreign governments (including China, which the United States is indebted to to the tune of at least a trillion dollars) is tariffs that are illegal under NAFTA and GATT and at odds with at least a generation of free market orthodoxy.

Like it or not, free trade was explicitly designed to facilitate the free movement of goods and people across borders. Almost by definition, it limits the concept of national sovereignty, which is why rank and file progressive are repulsed by it. However, the Donald is moving closer to the positions of Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter, who want not only to stem the tides of illegal immigration, but all immigration. In that, they are more isolationist than they accuse Libertarians of being in military affairs. It is increasingly a party that rhapsodizes about the free market, but wants the central government to limit the movement of goods and people.

Do primary voters care? The polls indicate that they don't, so long as he baits Mexicans and the very media that made him what he is today.

To be fair, Donald Trump did not create these intellectual schisms in the party. But like any master opportunist, he has exploited them to his benefit. Trump is, in my humble opinion, a joke, both as a candidate and as a human being.

But what he represents in the conservative movement isn’t funny at all. 


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commented 2015-07-16 04:39:01 -0400
MJ, once again, do some research, get your facts straight, and at least try to be consistent. The “explosion of republican orthodoxy”, as your headline claims, is severely undermined by your representation of the GOP as “schizophrenic” and plagued by internal “schisms”. Yes, Trump’s businesses have gone through several phases of financial restructuring, including his Atlantic City casinos, the most recent occurring in early 2009 (hint: what worldwide economic event was just beginning to be felt at that time?) But he’s also managed to salvage existing bankrupt properties and turn them into highly profitable hotels, like the Grand Hyatt in New York. He’s built a multi-billion dollar empire out of virtually nothing but his own savvy business acumen and entrepreneurial ambition, and despite your claim, the media had nothing to do with his success.
You claim that:
“Republicans generally, and the Tea Party in particular, believes that corporations are people with inalienable speech rights, so long as they’re donating money to Republican candidates and causes. However, when they speak their minds on gay rights or the Confederate flag, they suddenly become enablers of “liberal fascism.”
This is an absolutely ignorant statement devoid of empirical foundation. A little research would have saved you some embarrassment here. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations DO have natural person powers, including the right to free speech (see Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, 2010). This isn’t just some belief concocted by Republicans or the Tea Party.
Similarly, you appear blithely unaware of what “traditional marriage” means. It is possible for someone to believe in traditional marriage (between one man and one woman) and still get divorced. John Kerry was divorced, Russ Feingold divorced (though later declined to run), and even the Democratic patron saint of anthropogenic global warming himself, Al Gore, separated from Tipper in 2010 (amid rumours of his many extra-marital affairs). As a sidenote, Gore was also against federal funding for abortion and gay rights (including marriage), until he flip-flopped just in time to make his run for the presidency.
So what’s the big deal that the Donald has experienced divorce himself? That just makes him even more like an ever growing number of Americans. And, for the record, Jesus may have preached against divorce (widely practiced by the Israelites in his time), but made an express exception for divorce in cases of “unchastity” (Matthew 19:9).
You also seem to have little to no understanding of international trade or free trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT. First of all, NAFTA only exists as a trilateral agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. It does not include China. Secondly, the GATT is now defunct, having been replaced by the WTO on January 1, 1995. China left the GATT back in 1950, and wasn’t admitted to the WTO until 2001 (even then only on conditions, which have yet to be fully implemented due primarily to China’s internal barriers and restrictions.)
Does your criticism of so-called “Republican” trade policies mean that you disapprove of placing trade conditions on China, in spite of its abhorrent human rights record, protectionist trade policies, and history of artificially undervaluing its currency? Note that Chinese government intervention in its primarily export-based economy (which is itself dependent on having a low Yuan value, much like Ontario’s manufactured export economy relies on a low Canadian dollar) is directly responsible for why China owns such a large chunk of U.S. debt. Chinese state intervention (buying up available U.S. dollars with Yuan it prints as needed) creates a scarcity of U.S. dollars. This in turn helps keep the USD rate higher, and allows China to accumulate U.S. dollars as forex reserves (foreign exchange reservers.)
But speaking of free trade, you fail to mention that part of the “Republican orthodoxy” includes support for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. Democrats famously oppose this expansion in clear violation of NAFTA, which provides that the U.S. government cannot treat Canadian investors any less favourably than its own investors or investors from another country. Over the years Washington has approved numerous pipeline projects involving similar circumstances to Keystone XL, and the approval process typically takes between 50 and 600 days. Keystone XL is nearing the 2,500-day point. There is also a NAFTA prohibition against a signatory country exercising regulatory authority for an improper purpose, such as rejecting a pipeline proposal in order to curry favour with campaign donors and voters. At this rate, both TransCanada and the Canadian government have a pretty solid case against the Obama administration for compensation. This is slightly more pressing of a concern than trade tariffs against the corrupt, dictatorial Chinese government, don’t you think?
You also brought up immigration, and are presumably alluding to Trump’s recent speech about illegal Mexican aliens. It begs the question of whether you actually heard his entire speech or are only reacting to the liberal, mainstream media’s unfair condemnation of it. His main point was that the murder of Kate Steinle might have been averted were it not for sanctuary cities like San Francisco unlawfully refusing to comply with federal immigration laws, and releasing a five-time deported illegal alien felon onto city streets. If you listened to Trump’s speech, you would know that he also said he heavily valued the contributions of LEGAL immigrants to the U.S. economy, including his own companies.
Finally, you incorrectly attribute an anti-LEGAL-immigration stance to Trump, Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter. This is simply a bald-faced lie. All three are supporters of legal immigration and of reforming U.S. immigration policies to better attract the best and brightest from all over the world. All three recognize the basic demographic challenges facing the U.S., in that its birthrate is appalling low such that America actually NEEDS immigration just to keep going (much like Canada.) All three also understand the difference between legal and illegal immigration, whereas the former is desirable, but the latter is not. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are actually living in the U.S. today, but estimates range from 12 to 30 million. That’s 12 to 30 million people who have chosen not to follow a legal process for entry into the U.S., opting instead to knowingly break the law. Their unlawful entry alone makes them illegal, and so I won’t mince words but call them what they are: illegal aliens.
So in future, when you consider writing about such issues, do yourself and your readers a favour by conducting a little research in advance, because casting your own ignorant opinions as facts won’t go unnoticed on this forum.
commented 2015-07-14 14:15:07 -0400
I thought Trump went bankrupt. He did stand with Pamella Geller on free speech, so he is dog meat to me.
commented 2015-07-13 22:40:35 -0400
Oh Trump is a buffoon, a billionaire in name only, a heretic and not the sort of person a decent club would let past the front door. Which makes his run all the more entertaining. He is the IED in the way of every RINO who wants to get out there and lose. He is going to talk about the officially unspeakable, at any moment he’ll say global warming is a crock and black Americans are the authors of their own misfortune. Whatever he does, the rest of the Republicans will have to deal with it. Which will make them, rightly, uncomfortable.

The best part is that Trump makes the Bush/Clinton match up all the less likely.

As convicted criminal Martha Stewart would say “It’s a good thing.”
commented 2015-07-13 13:48:13 -0400
MJ, Trump would not have any money if he was as bad with business as you say. If I was an American and there was only a choice between Obama and Trump, Trump would trump my vote. Obama is a terror. At least Trump is an American patriot, maybe a bit of an idiot, but not anti-American like Obama.