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Trump and Libertarians

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I have never been a member of the Libertarian Party. I don’t vote, so I’ve never voted for the Libertarian Party candidate in any presidential election. If I did vote, I would have probably clamped my nose in a vice and voted for Donald Trump before I would have voted for the pathetic 2016 Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld. I don’t believe anything—no matter how good it sounds—that comes out of the mouth of any politician, and especially those who run for president. I don’t even get excited if they say “zero tariffs, zero subsidies, zero non-tariff barriers” because they will say whatever they think people want to hear if they think it will increase their chances of getting elected. Donald Trump is no

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I have never been a member of the Libertarian Party. I don’t vote, so I’ve never voted for the Libertarian Party candidate in any presidential election. If I did vote, I would have probably clamped my nose in a vice and voted for Donald Trump before I would have voted for the pathetic 2016 Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld.

I don’t believe anything—no matter how good it sounds—that comes out of the mouth of any politician, and especially those who run for president. I don’t even get excited if they say “zero tariffs, zero subsidies, zero non-tariff barriers” because they will say whatever they think people want to hear if they think it will increase their chances of getting elected.

Donald Trump is no exception. I was never part of the “Libertarians for Trump” movement (but neither am I a member of the “never Trumpers”). I took every “good” thing Trump said during his presidential campaign with a truckload of salt. Now that Trump has been in office for over half of his term, I think it should be clear that Trump has been a disaster for liberty and limited government.

Yet, we sometimes hear from libertarians about the positives and accomplishments of President Trump. Whatever they are (and there are some), these are so greatly outweighed by Trump’s negatives and failed policies as to be insignificant.

It is a myth that Trump has cut the number of federal employees. The federal leviathan is as big, as powerful, and as intrusive as ever. Have any federal assets been sold? Have any federal lands been sold? The federal government still owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28 percent of the land in the United States, including 79 percent of Nevada. Have any federal departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, or boards been eliminated or significantly reduced? Of course not. Instead of draining the swamp, Trump has increased is level and toxicity.

Although Trump talked about reducing the national debt during his presidential campaign, that debt now exceeds $22 trillion and is expected to reach $23 trillion by the end of 2019. By the end of Trump’s first term, he will have added over $5 trillion to the national debt. That is almost as much as the debt increased during two full terms of George W. Bush. Trump joins Presidents Bush and Obama in having budget deficits of over $1 trillion. The federal budget is fast approaching $5 trillion annually. Trump asks for a higher budget each year, and especially more military spending.

Trump is said to have cut federal regulations. To give credit where credit is due, I believe he has rescinded some of President Obama’s regulations. But what major federal regulations has Trump cut? No one ever lists them. The federal government still regulates every facet of American life from the amount of water that toilets are allowed to flush to the size of holes in Swiss cheese.

Trump’s tax cut “is also undoubtedly the smallest, not the biggest, individual tax cut in history,” according to David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981–1985) under President Ronald Reagan. And don’t forget that Trump’s individual tax cuts are only temporary. Trump should be praised, however, for getting the corporate tax rate permanently cut. But not, of course, for increasing refundable tax credits, a form of welfare.

Americans still live in a virtual police state. If you have any doubt, then just see the many articles on this by John Whitehead that regularly appear on this website.

The federal war on drugs continues unabated. Has the budget of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) been cut? Have any of its employees been laid off? True, Trump commuted the life sentence of drug trafficker Alice Johnson. But over 2,000 federal prisoners are serving life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Did Trump commute Johnson’s sentence because he wants to end the drug war? Of course not. Did Trump commute her sentence because he doesn’t think that anyone should be locked up for a non-violent drug crime? Of course not. It was a political move, like much of what Trump (and any other politician) does. Trump has called for the death penalty for some drug dealers and has praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his handling of the drug problem in his country.

Trump has been absolutely horrible on foreign policy. U.S. soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan. U.S. troops still occupy hundreds of foreign military bases and are still stationed in over 150 countries. The United States has never been closer to war with Iran. Trump has brought home from North Korea the bodies of some dead U.S. soldiers, but not one living U.S. soldier has been brought home from some country where he has no business being. U.S. foreign policy is still reckless, belligerent, and meddling. See the website of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity any day of the week for all the follies of U.S. foreign policy.

Trump’s trade policies have been an absolute disaster for the economy. Trump is an ignorant protectionist and economic nationalist, through and through. On the true state of Trump’s economy, I prefer the analysis of David Stockman instead of government statistics.

The United States may now be the world’s top oil producer, but it hasn’t resulted in something far more important—U.S. disengagement from the Middle East.

And what are these “good stands” that Trump has taken? Venezuela? Protectionist tariffs? Afghanistan? Military spending? Foreign interventions? Syria? Yemen? The Iran deal?

It is often pointed out that unlike other presidents, Trump is not politically correct. That, of course, is a good thing. However, vulgarity, insults, and rudeness should not be mistaken for political incorrectness.

But, we are told, the deep state, the Democrats, and the news media are relentless in their attacks on Trump therefore we should support him. I despise all three entities, but hasten to point out that most of their criticisms are not my criticisms and most of my criticisms are not their criticisms. I can support Trump against these entities only when he is in the right.

Crumbs indeed are what we are getting from Donald Trump as far as liberty and limited government are concerned. Trump may be “better” than Hillary, Obama, and Bush, but not by enough to cheer him.

Laurence M. Vance
Laurence M. Vance is an author, a publisher, a lecturer, a freelance writer, the editor of the Classic Reprints series, and the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. He holds degrees in history, theology, accounting, and economics. The author of twenty-four books, he has contributed over 700 articles and book reviews to both secular and religious periodicals.

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