Donald Trump

Trump’s Nomination Doesn’t Mean Libertarians’ Involvement in the GOP Has Been Misplaced

[Editor’s Note: This commentary by former Federal Election Commission Chairman, Center for Competitive Politics Chairman and Founder, and Capital University Josiah H. Blackmore/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law Bradley A. Smith is reprinted here with his permission.]


A libertarian professor friend of mine took the opportunity of Trump’s nomination to write on Facebook:

The fact that the GOP appears to be nominating Trump, and the fact that libertarian-leaning conservative intellectuals in the GOP are (rightly) frothing at the mouth the most about it, only provides more evidence for my long-standing view that libertarian intellectuals who thought their (our?) home was in the GOP were making a very risky “pact with the devil.”

He went on a bit but that gets the mood and core message of the piece.

My response, which I’ll reprint here with light edits, was this:

Trump Fears A Brokered Convention, With Good Reason

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“Somebody said, ‘Well, there’s a rule and another rule.’ I don’t care about rules, folks… We win, we get the delegates.” ~ Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the Trump campaign’s approach to winning the 2016 Republican nomination for the presidency; defying and discarding conventional rules of politics, refusing to abide by the traditional rules of decorum which provide a patina of civility to an often bitter political process, choosing instead to resort to character assassination and open mockery of his opponents (accusing Ben Carson of being a child molester, branding Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”, labeling Rubio “Little Marco”, and mocking Carly Fiorina’s looks, just to name a few).

Trump, with virtually no traditional political organization to start, relied on sheer force of will and a larger-than-life personality to rise in the polls. Trump’s faux pas and unapologetic coarseness seemed only to increase his popularity. Trump has been the front-runner in the race almost from the day he announced.

His non-traditional strategy has worked well thus far, but in recently, like Achilles’ heel, Trump’s lack of grassroots political organization has proven a serious liability. Long before Trump announced his candidacy; indeed, long before he announced his own candidacy, Ted Cruz was working in the political ditches, recruiting grassroots activists and local elected officials at the county and district level to serve as campaign chairs, and eventually, as delegates during the Republican convention cycle. It has paid off well for him. The race has come down to the strength of Trump’s cult of personality, versus the breadth and depth of Cruz’s grassroots campaign organization.

Will Trump Nomination Cost GOP the Senate?

With the Trump train barreling through the South on Super Tuesday, racking up an impressive number of delegates and solid wins; it is safe to say that while the GOP presidential nomination is not yet secured, it is at this point Trump’s to lose.

What makes The Donald so formidable is that, unlike other Republican candidates, whose past comments, positions, and histories are dissected on a molecular level for evidence of ideological impurities which render them unfit for the nomination, nothing Trump has ever said or done seems to affect the support of his loyalists.

Three marriages? He loves diversity! Bragging about serial adulterous affairs. Oh, isn’t that so “Donald”? Health care more socialized than ObamaCare? At least people won’t be dying in the streets! Support for partial birth abortion and Planned Parenthood? He’s changed! Trade war with China? Bring it on! Appointing leftists like his uber-liberal federal judge sister to the Supreme Court? He wouldn’t do that. Legalizing millions of illegals? Not on Trump’s watch (though he has said repeatedly that he will do just that). A Christian who claims he has no need to ask God for forgiveness? Well, people interpret the Bible many ways…

Yet his support is strong because an angry Republican base thinks he will be different, and that he will “win”.

Trump Voters Weren’t Betrayed by the GOP, He’s Their White Knight

A broken clock is right twice a day, and Saturday night Van Jones was that malfunctioning timepiece. On CNN’s coverage of the South Carolina GOP primary results, he’d had enough of the media’s placating Trump’s antics and the teeming hordes who eat it up.

Jones is absolutely right that the media has “adapt[ed] to the absurdity” of Trump’s campaign. One of the worst ways they’ve done this is by accepting the premise that his popularity is a reaction to the GOP’s failure to enact change or stop Obama over the last 7 years. As Erick Erickson put it six months ago: “The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.”

What a load of hogwash. Here’s why.

Trump rallies the stormtroopers in Louisiana

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After driving two hours, standing in line for two hours, and catching most of Donald Trump’s hour and a half long sales pitch to a packed Baton Rouge River Center, I have a new, less charitable understanding of the phenomenon he has unleashed on the country.

I am not a Trump supporter, of course. I actually went to the event with the intention of holding up an anti-Trump sign and making my dissent known in person. But as the line nearly reached the door, I witnessed two gentlemen with similar, but more harshly worded signs than mine wrestled out of the building, to the ground, then one of the two tased by Baton Rouge PD after not going peacefully. After hauling away the protesters, the dozen remaining officers at the entrance were on high alert for any shenaningans, and I had a wife and children waiting at home for me. So I quietly tossed my sign in the trash on my way in. I decided to protest silently, then online instead.

The crowd was about what you would expect - almost exclusively white, conservative, polite but cocked and ready for action. When the scuffle ensued with the protesters, many got their phones out and scurried over to record and jeer the detainees. They stopped just short of calling for blood.

Trump was already speaking when I got inside, and the crowd was eating up every word. They weren’t transfixed in silence; there was lots of murmuring between friends and neighbors, going in and out from the bathroom and concession stand. After all, thousands of people were still getting inside as he spoke.

In 2016, Vision Matters More Than Experience

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Though it seems this election season started the morning after the 2014 midterms, last night marked just the second state to have cast votes for a presidential nominee. Historically, Americans have rarely chosen senators as their presidents, turning instead to governors (or generals) with a leadership record that can be examined. But this is no ordinary election year.

On the Democrat side, the only remaining candidates (not that they had many in the first place, with the DNC telegraphing a coronation) are former Senator (and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton, and sitting Senator Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, the current frontrunners are casino mogul Donald Trump, and Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (though the last is a huge question mark after a disappointing fifth-place finish in New Hampshire).

Cruz Wins Iowa, But What’s Next?

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Who will occupy it next?

 

The results of the Iowa caucuses have shown us several important things; 1) that everybody hates the establishment of both parties, 2) no one trusts the media anymore, and 3) pollsters have no clue how to conduct polling in the fast-paced world of smartphones and social media.

Ted Cruz easily won the Iowa caucuses on the Republican side, despite being behind Trump by as much as 20-points in some polls taken just before the caucus, and despite the entirety of the GOP establishment doing their best to take him down. In fact, it is arguably the low regard among the GOP establishment in which Cruz is held that gives him such popularity among the base. Despite being hated by the establishment, Cruz’s net favorability leads all Republican candidates with a rating of +45% (61% favorable, 16% unfavorable) among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, according to a recent Gallup poll. Establishment favorite Jeb Bush has a net favorability of -1%.

Ted Cruz Trumps Trump In Iowa

This is Y-UUUUGE!

Despite being down as much as 21% to Trump in some polls, despite (or because of?) record turnout in Iowa (which pundits predicted would mean a Trump victory), despite being savaged by the GOP establishment, despite attacks from Iowa’s popular 6-term governor, and despite his principled refusal to bow to King Corn and back away from his calls to end corn subsidies…

Ted Cruz emerged victorious in Iowa, completely changing the dynamic of this race.

 

Last night’s winners:

Ted Cruz – wins Iowa when the odds were against him, and now goes into the South Carolina and Nevada primaries with momentum, the highest favorability ratings of all GOP candidates, and more cash on hand than the next four candidates combined.

Marco Rubio – Rubio surged late and almost beat out Trump for 2nd place, and this can only help him going into New Hampshire. How long will it be before the GOP establishment pressures Bush, Kasich, and Christie to get out so they can consolidate around Rubio to prevent a Cruz nomination?

Conservatives – last night proved that having a conservative candidate who is unapologetic in his conservatism, optimistic in his outlook for the future, and who has a history of standing on principle is a great draw at a time when politicians in general, and the GOP brand and establishment in particular, have favorability ratings just below hemorrhoids.

Strange Bedfellows Lead to the Iowa Caucus

With the Iowa caucuses less than a week away, on the Republican side this is shaping up to be one of the strangest nomination processes of my lifetime. Late last year, Scott Walker was the presumptive front-runner until he declared, after which his campaign imploded in a rapid and spectacular way. Jeb Bush was likewise a favorite, but having spent well over $100 million he is almost within the margin of error in most polls. Marco Rubio was the next hope for the establishment, palatable to them and most of the base, but his participation in the Gang of Eight immigration amnesty effort has damaged him. Ben Carson is imminently likeable and moral, but his near-comatose demeanor does not inspire confidence that he is ready for a dangerous world.

Chris Christie has been dogged by his anti-gun stance and his post-Sandy tarmac bromance with Obama. Rand Paul has not been able to recreate the fervor among his base that his father was able to. Carly Fiorina has great debate performances but is invisible in between. John Kasich comes across as an angry scold having a seizure. Rick Santorum? Mike Huckabee? No chance for either, but maybe they’ll get a good book deal for their efforts.

Trump’s Tax Plan Not Grounded in Reality

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Donald Trump, the brash, politically incorrect, self-promoting billionaire businessman turned politician has, in defiance of all political wisdom, rocketed to the top of the polls by tapping into the frustration and anger of the conservative base, which feels betrayed by GOP leadership’s absolute refusal to fight Obama’s lawless actions.

However, he has increasingly received criticism for his bumper-sticker sloganeering brand of campaigning, which has been long on chest-thumping but short on specifics. In response, Trump released recently his income tax reform plan.

From a broad-strokes perspective, there is much to like about Trump’s plan; the elimination of the marriage penalty and the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), the elimination of loopholes and deductions, the elimination of the death tax, a reduction in the number of tax brackets and a lowering of the rates (four brackets of 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25%), and a steep reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 15% (a great way to encourage investment in U.S. companies, which now bear the burden of the highest corporate tax rate in the world).

Trump’s plan would also require American multi-nationals to repatriate their offshore capital, encouraged by a 10% repatriation tax rate.

However, as with everything in life, the devil is in the details.


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