Libertarians for Donald Trump? 5 reasons libertarians can’t support Trump

Donald Trump is good on a few things, and terrible on most issues. At least from a libertarian perspective. The can-do attitude of Trump, something Friedrich Hayek warned in “Road to Serfdom,” is one of the many things that libertarians should be cautious of.

Last year, some libertarians were enthusiastic when Trump said he liked libertarianism because it has “a lot of good things.” Does this mean Trump is sympathetic to libertarianism? Hardly.

It’s been a very interesting 2016 presidential campaign. Who would have thought a year ago that the real estate billionaire mogul would be the Republican Party frontrunner? Who would have thought that Trump would outlast the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker?

Unlike 2008 and 2012, when Ron Paul was educating the general public and giving the GOP establishment a heart attack, libertarians pretty much have no horse in the race. All of the candidates on both sides of the aisle are not proponents of liberty, adversaries of an interventionist foreign policy or Austrian economic theorists. It’s a bad year for freedom.

What may have been the most surprising development within the libertarian community is when it was announced that there was a group forming called Libertarians for Donald Trump. Created earlier this month by prominent LewRockwell.com editors Dr. Donald Miller and economics professor Walter E. Block, it’s argued that libertarians have to “throw our weight behind the candidate who has a reasonable chance of actually becoming President of the United States whose views are CLOSEST to libertarianism” as opposed to finding the “perfect” candidate.

This was a very surprising announcement. Block is one of the best economists around today. He has done a superb job in his career advancing the ideas of liberty and educating many on economics. With all due respect to Block, who initially supported Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, he is dead wrong on supporting Trump, despite him saying some good things on the trail.

In fact, the best stance taken thus far is by Economic Policy Journal‘s Robert Wenzel. Of all the candidates still kicking around, Wenzel has said time and again that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for libertarians. It’s not because she espouses the economic concepts of Ludwig von Mises or because she wants to end the military empire, but because she can’t get anything done.

Because of incompetence, her numerous enemies and deadlock in Washington, Clinton would be the best choice for the public to detest the state, and to let the market run by itself as Democratic and Republican politicians beat each other up. It’s a wise way of thinking from Wenzel.

And, you know what? He’s right.

So, why shouldn’t libertarians endorse Trump? Here are five primary reasons why (there are probably plenty of other reasons, too):

Foreign Policy

This is the best way to summarize Donald Trump’s foreign policy: he’s against past wars, but he’s in favor of future wars. Indeed, he was against the Iraq War, which was a great stance and he deserves credit. But opposition to this war was held by many ordinary, everyday Americans.

Trump should be lauded for wanting to stay out of the Israel-Palestine relationship. He should also be celebrated for wanting to end defense for countries that can afford it, averring that regions handle regional matters and staying out of Syria. However, two of those issues he has tergiversated on: Israel and Syria.

Although the neoconservatives are, for whatever reason, against Trump’s vision of what foreign policy should be – they’ve advocated for this strong arm presidency without any oversight from Congress for decades now – Trump’s stances are hawkish.

Here are a few things to be worried about:

  • He wants between 20,000 and 30,000 American troops on the ground in Syria.
  • He supports bringing back waterboarding and a lot of other torture techniques.
  • He wants nuclear options to remain on the table, even in Europe.
  • He doesn’t want to end NATO, but just wants to modify it somewhat.
  • He thinks there should be even more sanctions on Iran (sanctions are acts of war).

There’s a plethora of other troubling viewpoints he has in relationship to foreign policy. He was right to chastize the foreign policy experts, the ambassadors and other officials involved of U.S. foreign policy for the past number of years. Unfortunately, Trump’s plan is just as reckless and dangerous as his predecessors. Here’s a simple idea: stop intervening into the internal affairs of other countries, mind your own business and talk, trade and travel with other countries.

“Friends with all, alliances with none,” as Thomas Jefferson once said.

Trade

Did anyone predict that trade would play such an important part to the race for the White House? All of the candidates are talking about it: Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and John Kasich. Everyone wants to decry how unfair the current trade system works, and how the Chinese and Mexicans are taking away jobs from Americans.

It’s right, and highly recommended, for the candidates to bash government, crony trade like NAFTA or TPP. Free trade, however, should mean exactly that: free trade. If John Smith wants to go into Mexico and buy 1,000 pencils for a couple of bucks and then head back into the U.S. and sell those pencils for double the price then that’s his prerogative. There’s no need for governments to intervene in this matter.

What Trump wants to impose is ridiculous: a 45 percent tariff on foreign goods and a 256 percent tariff on imported steel from China. He justifies this position because he says China is devaluing its currency, South Korea is ripping off the U.S. government and Mexican workers are a part of cheap labor practices. He also cites the trade deficit, which is another thing that he and his supporters need to understand: it doesn’t make a difference.

Here is what legendary economist Walt Williams writes about the trade deficit:

“Let’s look at the political angst over trade deficits. A trade deficit is when people in one country buy more from another country than the other country’s people buy from them. There cannot be a trade deficit in a true economic sense. Let’s examine this.

“I buy more from my grocer than he buys from me. That means I have a trade deficit with my grocer. My grocer buys more from his wholesaler than his wholesaler buys from him. But there is really no trade imbalance, whether my grocer is down the street, in Canada or, God forbid, in China.

“Here is what happens: When I purchase $100 worth of groceries, my goods account (groceries) rises, but my capital account (money) falls by $100. For my grocer, it is the opposite. His goods account falls by $100, but his capital account rises by $100. Looking at only the goods account, we would see trade deficits, but if we included the capital accounts, we would see a trade balance. That is true whether we are talking about domestic trade or we are talking about foreign trade.”

Everyone benefits from cheaper goods, whether they come from China or Mexico. Wal-Mart is a multi-billion-dollar titan that sells cheaper products, satisfies the consumer and makes everyone’s standard of living much better. All of the benefits of free trade trump any of the negatives.

Bashing China, lambasting corporations or complaining about Mexican workers is just in vogue.

Power of the State

To the layman, it would seem that Donald Trump is for limited government and would oppose any expansion of the state. However, once you dig deeper into his talking points, and even into his past record in the private sector, he likes the state. There’s one thing in particular that he’s open about: eminent domain.

Eminent domain is when the government takes away your private property for a government project or for a private business who called in some favors. It’s a disgusting practice and highlights what’s wrong with big government today.

Anyone who values private property and holds disdain for the state should be wary. Heck, even Walter Block has eloquently opined about how stupid this policy is (SEE: Donald Trump says eminent domain is ‘a wonderful thing’).

“Eminent domain is totally and completely inconsistent with free enterprise and libertarianism. It amounts to no more and no less than land theft.”

The power of state can also be directly related to his desire to construct a wall.

A wall is meant to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the border. John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” did a fine job of explaining just how this plan won’t come to fruition, whether it’s the cost, construction or implementation. But there’s another prospect to be frightened of: the border wall is meant to keep people out, but what about keeping people in?

Sure, Trump hasn’t said he wants to bar people from exiting the U.S. However, what if one of his successors wants to utilize the wall to prevent Americans from leaving the country if they haven’t paid their taxes, want to renounce their citizenship or make a quick exit before something devastating happens? This is food for thought.

Ayn Rand warned years ago that the U.S. could metastasize into a dictatorship in the future. Well, if a wall is constructed south of the border (perhaps an administration will build one along the coastal lines of the U.S.), what deters a dictator from using the wall to prohibit citizens from leaving? Nothing.

A Lack of Cuts & Reform

It should be noted that Donald Trump probably has the best tax plan of all the remaining candidates (SEE: A look at Donald Trump’s ‘magnificent’ tax proposal). It’s a hell of a lot better than Sanders’s initiative of raising taxes, increasing spending and expanding the power and scope of the federal government. With that being said, one question that should be asked is: what about the $20 trillion national debt and $500 billion budget deficit?

Trump has said that he would take the biggest ax he could find to cut spending. But he hasn’t really outlined specifically what he would cut. So far, the only thing we know is that he’ll cut fraud, waste and abuse and get rid of a couple of departments. But as one of the GOP debates showcased, this plan at its current stage wouldn’t do much overall to cut spending. This is something to be worried about.

What about reforms? Where does Trump stand on reforms? When it comes to entitlements, he wants everything to remain the same. He won’t raise the retirement eligibility age, he won’t cut benefits and won’t raise taxes to fund the entitlement programs. In the words of Trump, this is “huge” because entitlements account for two-thirds of the federal budget.

Here is a terrifying statistic: unfunded liabilities and expenditures in the U.S. stand at $120 trillion (probably more than that). If he doesn’t do anything then that number will just continue to skyrocket. Eventually, the only thing the federal government would be able to afford is interest on the debt, a couple of entitlement programs and that’s pretty much it.

Again, Trump’s tax plan is an improvement compared to his opponents. But it’s too bad that he doesn’t have a concrete plan to take a chainsaw to the federal budget and make some tough choices. A couple of of these choices isn’t even tough: raise the retirement eligibility age, allow young people to gradually opt out of the system and eventually phase out Social Security.

Edward Snowden & Spying

To a lot of libertarians, Edward Snowden is a hero. He opened the doors to government spying and unveiled just how invasive the government is. Not only are intelligence agencies spying on the American people, but they’re also spying on other government leaders worldwide, even allies. Simply put: Snowden should be hailed as a national hero and not a “traitor.”

What does Trump think about Snowden? Let him speak for himself:

“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” Trump told Fox News in July 2013.

“This guy is really doing damage to this country, and he’s also making us look like dopes. We can’t allow this guy to go out there and give out all our secrets and also embarrass us at every level. We should get him back and get him back now.”

So the man that revealed to us what we suspected all along should be executed? Balderdash!

In addition, Trump wants American citizens to spy on each other, he wants to spy on Israel (the country he now 100 percent supports) and, most recently, he came out in favor of the FBI over Apple in the encryption fiasco. Moreover, Trump has supported the PATRIOT Act, the NSA’s metadata collection program and spying or the shutdown of mosques. Heck, Trump has even come out in favor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese individuals.

Final Thoughts

Donald Trump is good on a handful of things, like criticizing the Federal Reserve and wanting to dismantle Obamacare. On most issues, whether it’s spying, eminent domain or foreign policy, Trump is awful. At times he can sound just as perilous as Lindsay Graham or John McCain.

It can be concluded that the coxcomb presidential candidate is far from the quixotic candidate that libertarians may have hoped he was at the start of the campaign. It’s perplexing to see what some libertarians find attractive about Trump. Perhaps it’s the fact that both Republicans and Democrats hate Trump. Or maybe it’s because the media tell everyone to dislike him. Or perhaps it’s his colorful, politically incorrect nature that poses as a breath of fresh air.

Trump won’t be good for the U.S. constitution. Trump won’t be good for advancing the cause of liberty. Trump won’t be good for pretty much anything else, except raising the blood pressure of the GOP and the Democrats. And for this, Americans everywhere should raise their glasses and a round of applause. For everything else, fear of either the status quo or continued expansion of the executive branch should be the only thing Americans have for a Trump administration.

It shouldn’t be Make America Great Again. It should be Make America Free Again.

AM

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Comments

  1. Andrew, you left out the main reason a Lib would support Trump. He can beat Hillary and we must stop her !!! Your list is valid but peanuts compared to what Hillary will do. Also, Donald is less likely to start WW3 or other medium wars.
    Regards, Dave , go to Forward-USA.org

  2. “Trump should be lauded for wanting to stay out of the Israel-Palestine relationship.” Andrew, I think you need to read his speech at AIPAC where he jumped head first into the “relationship” — He was positively bellicose on both Iran and the Palestinians. http://time.com/4267058/donald-trump-aipac-speech-transcript/

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