It's the same old deal with Donald Trump

Politicians use taxpayer money to buy votes.  It's the way the system works.  Donald Trump is offering more of the same.

Not content with simply supporting the ridiculous ethanol boondoggle of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), he wants to actually expand it, in a thoroughly transparent attempt to purchase political support in Iowa.  To make sure he got the language of his bribe just right, he read out his proposal from a script provided him by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.  This is every corporate lobbyist's dream: a candidate who not only goes whole hog for your scheme, but will actually get up and parrot the lines you feed him.

Though no one knows for sure how Trump will govern if elected, he's made it clear that he's a dealmaker.  He fancies himself an artist of the trade.  What sort of deals would he actually make, though?  We have a prime example with RFS – the deal is going to be good primarily for Donald Trump and his chosen beneficiary, in this case Big Corn.  The rest of the country pays the price, but hey, we're making America great again, one coddled industry at a time.

And how does the sophisticated world-class businessman justify this craven suckup to a special interest?  Why, it's because we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Message from Earth to Donald: the U.S. is now an oil exporter.  We've had something called the fracking revolution, and North America is energy-independent.  None of this matters to Trump.  Any excuse will do in order to cover up this blatant vote-buying.

It's no coincidence that the day after Trump pledged himself to expand the ethanol subsidy, the ultimate establishment Republican, Bob Dole – or Senator Ethanol, as he was called – publicly endorsed Trump over Cruz.  All the K Street lobbyists, fixers, and inside dealmakers are rubbing their hands in anticipation of working with Trump.

And Senator Ethanol has the chutzpah to criticize Cruz because he won't make deals.  Earth to Dole: people have had it with your insider, behind-closed-doors dealmaking.  We get sold out to well-heeled special interests every time.  You and your Senate buddies have dealt us close to bankruptcy.

When Ted Cruz talks about the "establishment" preferring Trump over him, this is what he's talking about.  Cruz wants to fight the establishment.  He wants to take it on and defeat it.  Trump wants to cut a deal.  Whom do you think they'd prefer working with?

Because he's taken such a variety of positions on virtually every topic over the years, it's hard to know who Trump really is, and what exactly he stands for, and what could actually be expected of him.  Peggy Noonan cries out in anguish, asking, "What is Trumpism?"

Trumpism is the art of the deal.  And one thing about any deal the Donald is involved in: to the maximum extent possible, it's going to be good primarily for Donald Trump.  We don't know what the deal will be.  Even Trump doesn't know, which is why he's coy about specifics.  We just have to trust him.  He's got all the money he needs, so he won't be enriching himself, Clinton-style.  Is that good enough?  We just trust him?

And as his hopping into bed with Big Corn shows, what he wants out of the deal is not money, but power – personal political power.  And this is more dangerous than wanting wealth.  A president willing to make deals with one and all, with the goal of consolidating all political power to himself, is the kind of man the Framers were worried about and designed the Constitution to restrain.

Is Trump even aware of the Constitution?  Has he ever talked about it?  Does he believe in federalism and the separation of powers?  Does he criticize Obama for taking unilateral executive actions?  You get the impression that none of that matters to Trump.  What matters is just putting him in charge, letting him make his deals, and all will be well.

He asks us to take him on faith.  But we don't have to do that.  We can look at what he does, not what he says.  And what he's done with ethanol in Iowa is reveal himself as just another tool of the establishment.

We can do better than that.

Fritz Pettyjohn was chairman of Reagan for President, Alaska in 1979-1980; is a co-founder of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force; and blogs daily at

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