A Post-Election Coda: New Article at FEE
Well. Here we are. The worst election season of our lifetimes has finally ended, and Donald Trump has been elected President. As we watch him make his cabinet selections (some ok, some curious, some awful) and policy proposals (some surprisingly good, many predictably terrible), we should reflect on something this election season has shown us.
We are all better off when politics is boring. Here is a portion of my latest article for the Foundation for Economic Education:
Ideas like property rights, limited government, and sovereignty of the individual may seem mundane to those in the West who’ve been conditioned to take them for granted, but once people abandon these ideas for the sweeping romantic ecstasy of leader-worship, national supremacy, or prostration before a man-made god, they become more willing to see their fellow citizens as numbers or a means to a political end. It’s this ecstatic frenzy that makes people comfortable with deportations, torture, show trials, and mass murder.
I don’t mean to compare the election of Donald Trump to the early 1930s. There is no comparison (though he does look and act eerily like il Duce, doesn’t he?). But it’s the impulse at play here that worries me. It’s the impulse that says that politics and political leaders should inspire us, and that we should acquiesce to being pawns ruled over by “great men” (in the right-wing case) or “the forces of history” (in the left-wing case).
As for Trump himself, his post-election “pivot” hasn’t surprised me in the least. Neither have his overtures to working with people like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. He’s a business man from Queens. I expect social issues (aside from criminal justice reform, which I fear is in great danger with the new attorney general) to take a back-seat to economic ones very soon. Not that this gives me a great sense of optimism. His proposals for infrastructure spending fly in the face of fiscal responsibility and smack of the type of cronyism common in many post-Soviet republics. His corporate tax cuts are a good idea, but he would do well to couple his income tax cuts with an extended payroll tax holiday to offset how much his plan benefits the very rich. His anti-corruption ideas are a good start, though I’ve come to be a little suspicious of term limits. We’ll see what kind of specifics come out of this plan, unless Mitch McConnell swipes them down.
What comes out of a Donald Trump administration is still unclear. But one may hope that the disjointed and inconsistent nature of the man and his views may turn into a saving grace. I have several thoughts for what liberals should do to reflect on the loss, but these are better summarized by Mark Lilla, writing in the New York Times.
Any discussion of the future of libertarianism I’ll leave for another time (hint: we should move to become more like a classical liberal party commonly found in Europe and move away from Reddit-style an-cap fantasy land).