Why I have opposed a Trump presidency from the beginning

Standard

I’m a #neverTrump hipster. I was calling out his awfulness before it was cool. Actually, that’s not completely true. I’m not #neverTrump, because the best way to beat Trump would be to vote for Clinton, and I can’t do that for reasons I’ll post later. However, I have opposed his candidacy from the beginning. Back before he grabbed her by the *****, before #speechplagiarismgate, before he started winning primaries by the dozen, I actually sat down and read Trump’s platform and did some digging. What I found was a man who either had no basic understanding of how international economics and diplomacy work (doubtful) or was choosing to ignore said knowledge for political gain (probable).

Economic issues

Everyone knows Trump was (is?) going to make Mexico build a wall. However, the manner in which he planned to do this was ridiculous, comprising impounding remittance payments from undocumented immigrants (unenforceable, unestimable, and likely illegal), massively increasing visa fees for legitimate entry into the country (hurts trade, tourism, and diplomatic relations with our 3rd biggest trading partner), and worse of all…creating trade tariffs. If you want to know why tariffs are bad, I wrote a post just for you. The short version is they nearly always lead to fewer consumer choices, lower quality goods, and higher prices, which is another way of saying inflation. If you don’t have time to read the post and want a good one-liner on why this happens, consider this quote from Donald Trump during the second debate concerning insurance companies freely competing across political lines:

Artificial lines, where we stop…companies from…competing…gives the…companies essentially monopolies. We want competition.

As bad as the wall debacle is, his tax plan was arguably worse. I’m all for lowering taxes whenever possible. From an economic perspective, they distort the actual costs of decisions, create artificial incentive structures (like sending all your money to the Cayman Islands or founding your business in Ireland), and lead to higher prices (like tariffs). Fiscal conservatives generally love the idea of lower taxes. That said, they also generally hate the idea of the national debt increasing. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation found in January that his original plan would increase debt above-and-beyond its already increasing levels by $10 trillion over a decade, effectively adding 50% to its currently constant-increasing level. The nonpartiscan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget cited his plan increasing the debt by far larger amounts than Clinton’s plan.

Over the past year, Trump updated his plan with significant changes, leading the Tax Foundation to change their estimates of the decrease in revenues in September. Their current estimates describe the effects over the next 10 years as increasing GDP by around 7-8%, increasing the levels of capital investment (the strongest driver of long-term growth) by 20-24%, increasing wages by 5.5 to 6.5%, and creating around 2 million jobs. This is a much better plan than his initial one. Like, it’s hard to explain how much better of a plan this is. However, these economic gains come at a price, and that price is decreased government revenues by $2.5 to $4 trillion over the next decade that come from his significant tax cuts. This number actually started out much higher, at $4.5 to $5.9 trillion, but the positive economic outcomes from his tax cuts would grow the tax base and offset some of the lost revenue. Remember this, as it’s going to come into play soon.

Every fiscally conservative republican candidate up until now has paired decreased taxes with massive decreased spending. The numbers never actually line up, but they at least make an effort. Trump’s views on decreased spending are murky. He’s suggested getting rid of the department of education and used to support decreasing military funding. However, now he supports increasing military funding, has proposed a half trillion dollar infrastructure fund, and wants to build the aforementioned multi-billion dollar wall. I actually don’t care all that much about the national debt for reasons I’ll explain in a later post, but for strong fiscal conservatives and debt hawks, this should be a non-starter. The national debt is currently approaching $20 trillion, and the annual deficit is around $590 billion. Trump’s plan would increase the national debt by 10-20% without any changes in spending, but it would likely be even more with the additional spending he has proposed.

There are plenty of other economic missteps from Trump that could be covered here, including his disastrous statements that we should consider refinancing the national debt. I was opposed to Trump from the beginning looking solely to his economic policies and their seeming incoherence. Granted, his tax plan has gotten better over time. However, his plans for immigration and trade would damage the economy, serving to  counteract significant portions of the economic gains from his decreased taxes. This would drive the national debt far higher, likely increasing it by 30% or more. Given this, I’m still strongly opposed to Trump’s economic plans. Now, let’s turn to some other issues.

Illegal immigration

This topic gets its own heading, and also its own full post. This is because I believe this issue is the one that really launched Trump’s campaign. Building a wall made his name big, and you build a wall because you oppose illegal immigration. If you want the full version, read the post. However, here’s a key excerpt.

From all this research, I’m convinced that from an economic point of view, illegal immigration is a net positive for the state and national economies. The expense required to lock down the borders and increase deportations is massive, on the scale of hundreds of billions of dollars. However, the harm it would cause to the state and national economies to suddenly have labor prices jump up in a number of key industries would be worse than that. Due to this, I will never support an across the board deportation for these purely economic reasons. I think it is incredibly foolish and harmful to the economy.

I would support efforts to massively increase the number of work visas available to provide legitimate means of work and as a means of collecting more taxes. I would consider supporting paths to citizenship for individuals who have worked here for a period of time, though that would have to be balanced against the cost of the benefits (social security, etc.) that would be provided. It gets much more complicated when looking at local level effects, as most of the costs of undocumented immigrants are incurred in education and healthcare funded by local governments. I would support efforts to have the federal government provide more funding to schools and healthcare for communities supporting undocumented immigrants or those with temporary work visas. I would support efforts to provide more scholarships and funding for technical schools so unskilled U.S. citizens can learn skills and move away from competing against immigrants who are lowering their wages.

I would support all these things not based on morality, but based solely on economics. Some might say this is not a conservative viewpoint…that I’m moving to the left. Well, border patrols, massive walls, and deportation are incredibly inefficient ways of dealing with the realities of a labor market that wants cheap labor and individuals who are willing to take great risks to provide it. Since when did conservatives abandon giving the free market what it wants? When did they abandon the goal of coming up with inexpensive, small government-focused, efficient solutions to challenges? I agree with Cato institute’s Alex Nowrasteh, who said, “even if the fiscal costs of immigration were consistently larger than the fiscal benefits, there are far easier and cheaper methods to lower the cost than scaling back or outlawing immigration. Reforming welfare, charging immigration tariffs, or allowing more immigrant workers could all redress a possible net fiscal cost.”

That’s my stance. Trump is the opposite of this. #nodice

Foreign policy

From what I can find, Trump hasn’t spoken much to foreign policy. Most of the things he talks about as foreign policy are really domestic immigration policy and domestic tax policy, which I’ve already covered my feelings on. I think this is probably an area many Americans feel strongly about but have little real knowledge of. I definitely feel I have little ability to analyze foreign policy. I can’t see classified intelligence. I don’t know what our long-term objectives are.

Trump does emphasize focusing on fighting ISIS instead of Syria, and I think I can probably agree with that, though I honestly can’t parse through much of that current situation. He puts emphasis on not being the world’s police, but he also said in a debate that he can’t take anything off the table (including nuclear intervention) and complained that we’re doing nothing about North Korea. I get a sense of isolationism mixed with a desire to ambitiously protect the U.S. and its interests. I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with his tendency to strike out at people mixed with a nuclear option.

Character flaws

Donald Trump is an ass. He may have a personality disorder. He may be completely disconnected from regular people. He may be racist or sexist or misogynist. He may be “a good businessman that knows how to push people around and get what he wants done.” It all equals ass for me. Lots of people are deciding to vote against Trump because of these things. I decided not to vote for Trump months ago based on previously mentioned issues, so any character flaws are just the icing on the cake for me.

Trump has a weird superpower of being able to inspire assery in people who support him. Watching good people try to get around his character failures is just sad to me. Maybe this is a superpower granted to all political candidates, seeing as I experience the same sadness when I watch Clinton supporters try to dismiss her corruption and her husband’s obvious licentiousness or when I watch supporters of my congressional representative, Hank Johnson, try to explain how he wasn’t actually asking if Guam would tip over if we put another military base on it. Sigh. However, I’m here to talk Trump. Clinton will get her own soon.

I’ve watched Trump supporters…women even…argue that his “locker room talk” about sexual assault is just what men do. I was raised by a single mother and a grandmother to respect and honor all people, which actually does include women. My faith calls me to do the same. I’ll admit I’ve had a regrettable number of sarcastic and negative conversations about women over the years. I’ve also had a large number of conversations about how men are all stupid. Cynicism comes with the millennial turf. However, Trump actually had the means and opportunity to do the things he said, and I am willing to believe he actually did them. There’s a term for that, and despite the vocal opposition to it from many Trump supporters, I think sexual assault is actually quite accurate.

Conservatives attacked Bill Clinton’s moral failures. They now attack Hillary for defending his moral failures. Maybe you can understand my cognitive dissonance when I see them supporting Trump despite his. As I stated before, I decided not to vote for Trump based solely on economic issues, so much of these points are moot for my voting decision. However, I think the real losers here are Trump supporters, many of whom are Christians. I’m sad for Christianity as a whole because of this election season and I wonder how much the church has been harmed by Christians choosing politics over morality. The gospel itself endures, the pure message of salvation through faith in Christ cannot be tarnished. However, I see rough times ahead for the church.

Moral policy issues

So, now that I’ve taken all of Trump’s biggest economic and international issues off the table as well as his character flaws, we’re left with domestic issues, most of which are moral. It’s time to talk about gun rights, marijuana, and abortion. I think a lot of conservatives have finally begun to realize what I did…that Trump’s an ass and his economic policies are terrible. However, I’ve seen many still clinging to these three issues.

Gun rights

I honestly don’t care that much about this issue. I don’t think gun ownership will ever be outlawed in this country. I think restrictions will eventually be put on it…most of which will be ineffectual at actually curtailing gun violence. The overemphasis on so-called “assault rifles” from the left is baffling. The misunderstanding of automatic versus semiautomatic firearms is baffling. I’d put more time into this, but it’s just not that important to me. If this issue matters so much to some people that they are able to overcome every other negative about Trump through it, then that’s their prerogative. To me, gun rights are important, but not to such an extent that I would trade it for the negatives of all of Trump’s other terrible policies.

Marijuana

I’ve never tried it. If I ever go to Colorado, I probably will. In the meantime, I think it should be legal. In this way, I definitely depart from the Republican party, and from most moral conservatives. However, I think this is an incredibly fiscal conservative stance. I’m not going to go into a full discussion of the economics of this because I don’t have time. However, suffice to say that we spend billions of dollars annually to try to prevent marijuana use through policing and incarceration, and millions of people still use it. I say legalize it and tax the heck out of it. Is it dangerous? Potentially. Is it more dangerous than smoking and alcohol? I don’t think so. Also, the fact that people are against prescribed medical marijuana is absolutely ridiculous to me. My grandfather died of multiple sclerosis, a condition that has viable treatments with marijuana. If there was potential for it to improve his life at all, I think it’s abhorrent that it was denied. I support it for the thousands suffering from MS or similar conditions. Trump supports it for medical use and opposes its overall legalization. I support it for both. That’s all I have to say about that.

Abortion

So, now we come to abortion. I’m putting it last because it was the hardest one for me to write. Abortion is one of the issues I’m most opinionated and passionate about. I really had to sit down and take a serious look in the mirror for this issue. I wrote a post on where I ended up. It’s raw, it’s earnest, and it’s heartfelt. I’m not even going to write a summary here. If you really want to know my thoughts on it, read the post.

Where this leaves me

Having covered all of this, I cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump.

6 thoughts on “Why I have opposed a Trump presidency from the beginning

  1. KJ Reid

    I agree with Ben Jackson. My family is on the opposite end of the spectrum (Democrats), but they have given me the same level of resistance in my decision to vote third-party. “A vote for third-party is a vote for Trump.” It’s like an echo-chamber setup by mainstream media. They’ve watched their respective news stations (whether conservative FOX or liberal MSNBC) so frequently that they’re parroting whatever they’ve heard several times over. They’ve abandoned their critical thinking skills and opted-in on someone else thinking for them.

  2. Tyler Wade Jones

    Overall, I found your assessment understandable… with a few key disconnects…

    I think you misunderstand Trumps method of negotiating… in order to be successful, as Trump has inarguably been in business, threats have to be mutually detrimental. So, threatening walking away from a deal or proposing tariffs or fines on Mexico would notably be significantly detrimental to the other party. This is an effective negotiating tactic where the goal is not mutually assured destruction or suffering, but compromise. I think you’re severely underestimating this tactic and Trumps mastery of it as it could apply in regards to our foreign relations and dealing.

    I think a key selling point of Trump for me is his competency, if not personally then in his capacity to listen to, hire, and equip competent people. A consideration the “nonpartisan” assessment groups consistently miss is that Trump initially talks in generalities and later reveals specifics like he did with his tax plans. “…updated his plan” means he revealed specifics they hadn’t considered and initially wrote him off for, saying “it would increase the debt by $10 trillion.” I keep watching this happen. I expect a key consideration they’re failing to make currently is to account for massive spending cuts from eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse he has generally mentioned without much specifics… do you think he’ll have specifics? Place your bets…

    A final key point about immigration… Trump is, from what I’ve seen, very much in favor of immigration and fixing the system so it’s easier for good people to come in legally or get work visas and such… like you say, it helps the economy. He is notably against illegal immigration, for some important reasons. Here’s the reasons I agree with him and that I don’t think you’ve quite measured and dealt with…

    1.) Trafficking. I think we’re both on the same page with the need to legalize marijuana… maybe even cocaine and heroine. But people are also coming across, and we don’t know who they are or where they’re going. We do know that there are about 27 million slaves worldwide, and a lot of them cross through right here in Atlanta. We -have to- secure the border.

    2.) Criminals. I’ll skip passed how everyone who comes in illegally is technically a criminal and focus on “bad” criminals. Most of the “data” recklessly lumps legal and illegal immigrants together in their assessment of “serious crimes committed” …I totally agree, immigrants (legal) are generally awesome. But while these stats don’t show illegal/undocumented immigrants committing more crime, they also notably don’t absolve them as many leftists try to fallaciously do, because it simply dilutes their specific impact with the impact of all other immigrants. However, we know drugs come in through the southern border, and since drugs are broadly illegal now, it’s chiefly the cartels, gangs, and very dangerous criminals that are bringing them here which leads to the side effect of extreme, unnecessary, and preventable bad, much of which I’m sure will never be discovered and statistically affirmed.

    3.) Rape. The independent data Trump referenced to imply that many illegals are “rapists” suggested that between 60-80% of women crossing the border are raped, often by the people they crossed with. So besides the fact that this means Trump actually wasn’t wrong… this means securing the border is as much about their safety and protection as it is about ours.

    Nothing in a vacuum of course… we have to fix our immigration system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *