What is Donald Trump?
Casino and strip club magnate Donald Trump is a crude lout. His followers claim that such qualities are forgivable in an aspirant for the office of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, because Trump is a true conservative. In a recent posting, Jonah Goldberg penned a fine response to the assertion that conservativeness justifies systematic gross rudeness. In this article I will endeavor to address the more important pillar of Trump’s defense, to wit, the claim that he is a “true conservative.”
Donald Trump is not a conservative at all. To be a conservative, a person must support a number of principles including: limited government, free enterprise, rule of law, equal justice under law, individual rights, Judeo-Christian ethics, support of the classical virtues over the classical vices, opposition to corruption, adherence to truth, and support for the doctrines and system set forth by America’s founding fathers. Trump fails these tests on every count.
Trump is not for free enterprise. He is, in fact, an extreme statist, far more radical than Barack Obama in numerous important areas of concern. For example, Trump supports nationalized single-payer healthcare, a system that would put the lives of Americans in the hands of government bureaucrats. He is a radical trade protectionist, supporting a system that enriches insiders who can arrange for government action to block foreign competition. He is a practitioner and advocate of eminent domain, supporting a system that enriches insiders who can arrange for government action to dispossess ordinary Americans of their homes if that should be required to increase the oligarch’s profit. He flaunts his practice of corruption of government through payoffs to elected officials, who, under the Constitution, are supposed to be representing some combination of their constituents and their conscience. He shows open contempt for such essential patriotic classical virtues as courage, building his own career through the promotion of greed and lust. He takes huge loans then stiffs his lenders while parading his billions for all to see. He spews lies and when confronted with a request for facts to back up his assertions, brushes it off as if truth does not matter. His general methodology is that of a demagogue, a mobilizer of passion against reason, an exemplar of democracy’s worst enemy.
But doesn’t Trump’s opposition to illegal immigration make him a conservative, at least on that issue? Not at all. There is a conservative case against illegal immigration on the basis of support for rule of law. But Trump is certainly not a supporter of rule of law. He is a supporter of abuse and corruption of the law, and through his casinos and strip clubs, is a major player in an industry notorious for its links to organized crime, money laundering, prostitution, and drug trafficking.
So for Trump, the illegal immigration question is not about the law at all. It’s about the immigrants.
Now it must be said that the primary argument advanced by immigration restrictionists, labor protectionism, is anti-free enterprise, and thus not a true conservative position. Even so, the pragmatic side of immigration policy is an area in which reasonable people can differ. But there can be no place for the type of xenophobic demagoguery in which Trump has chosen to engage in the conservative movement. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, racism is a collectivist ideology. Indeed, as Friedrich Hayek pointed out in his classic work The Road to Serfdom, racism is required for socialism, because to mobilize the passion necessary to achieve the full collectivist agenda, it is necessary to invoke the tribal instinct. Thus, as Adolf Hitler clearly understood, and Stalin and every subsequent communist tyrant came to realize, the ultimate development of socialism is not stateless international brotherhood, but a form of rabid tribal nationalism.
In short, Trump is a national socialist – or perhaps “social nationalist” would be the better term. To be sure, he is not a Nazi. Nor is he a national socialist in the vein of the current North Korean tyranny, or that of Pol Pot. He is a different type of nationalist/ socialist. Perhaps the closest foreign analogy would be that of the Putin regime, which uses extreme nationalism to secure mob support for an unlimited government that serves the interests of those who control it, or those who can pay enough to influence it.
In the Putinite world, there are no laws that effectively restrain the strong or protect the weak. The government is all powerful, and its bias is available for rent. It’s not about whether your case is just or unjust; it’s about who you can buy. It’s not that the system is corrupt. Corruption is the system, and everyone knows it.
National socialism is not conservatism. It is the opposite of conservatism. Trump is not a Republican, and he is not a conservative. He has openly stated that he will not accept the verdict of the voters in the primary process. His campaign should be terminated..
Dr. Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy, www.pioneerenergy.com a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory. The paperback edition of his latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism was recently published by Encounter Books.