Before you read this column try to set aside your personal animus towards President Donald Trump. In fact, try to set aside the notion of any of this having to do with a man named Donald Trump and try to focus on what should be a clarion call to refute the generally accepted norms for our federal government. I say “generally accepted” because they have been verbalized by Democrats and Republicans alike for at least the last three decades – so much so that they have become the “new truth.”
1. What if the federal government is actually corrupt? That it is actually run by a cadre of bureaucrats that swarm to protect their status, their power, and their privilege? What if there is actually a “swamp” and the creatures of the swamp attack without coordination by a single party but rather attack because their very existence is at risk? What if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is corrupt? What if former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch are actually corrupt? What if the Internal Revenue Service is actually corrupt?” What if the leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is corrupt?
Recent history is littered with the misadventures of a one-woman (Hillary Clinton) wave of corruption dating back to her days as first lady of Arkansas and continuing unabated through her second failed quest for the presidency. Not only is Ms. Clinton corrupt but she has corrupted virtually everyone she touches – Vince Foster, Huma Abedin, Susan Rice, Donna Brasille, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Loretta Lynch, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strock, and on and on and on. And “the swamp”, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation has protected her. Congressional hearings have exposed the Internal Revenue Service’s intentional discrimination against conservative advocacy groups. Eric Holder refused to enforce contempt of Congress citations against himself and others. And these are just the most visible.
Members of Congress who, when elected, demonstrated meager networth statements are now multi-millionaires all while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and often maintaining two homes (Washington DC and their home district) while earning a mere $170,000 per year as a member of Congress. Included in these numbers are Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
Mr. Trump has challenged the status quo and has begun exposing this corruption and its double standards of conduct – one for us and another for the elites.
2. What if international diplomacy is in fact just international appeasement? What if every tin pot dictator, religious zealot and genocidal sociopath knows that they can act with relative impunity because those that can call them to account will not – too timid, too fearful of criticism, or too willing to accept the blame for the abhorrent actions of these miscreants? What if the real remedy for international terrorism, genocide and religious intolerance really is the exercise of fast, certain and decisive power?
For the last three decades the State Department has been dominated by the graduates of Yale (white, male and Yale). They have followed the orthodoxy of Yale’s predominantly progressive/liberal leftist academic cadre (including the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs). To varying degrees they preach that the majority of global problems are caused by America – too big, too rich, too strong – and that the influence of America should be tempered. The apology tour by former President Barack Obama was adjudged the epitome of the State Department’s policy – blame America first, apologize for being successful and pledge to forego any influence but maintain funding the corruption, misogyny, homophobia, and genocide practiced by third world nations. That policy demanded that the global butchers (Russian dictators and oligarchs, North Korea’s family of lunatics, Iran’s religious zealots, Syria’s Bashar al Assad, and a host of African dictators, warlords, and common criminals) be treated with restraint and be rewarded for pausing briefly in their brutality. It also required America to accept blame for the conditions that caused their rise to power.
Mr. Trump has suggested that three decades of appeasement hasn’t worked and that international conflict has increased dramatically, particularly over the last decade. By a combination of military threats (including those that he has actualized), economic sanctions and tough talk, Mr. Trump has changed the posture of North Korea, China’s support of North Korea, and the world’s view of North Korea as an active and impending peril. In doing so he has opened the door to negotiations to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula. He has drawn a red line over the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and acted to enforce it at least twice and in doing so brought together European and Arab interests to hold Syria, Iran and Russia accountable. By demonstrating a willingness to confront Iran over its military adventures in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. He has encouraged a pan-Arab alliance that has begun to thaw relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors and which can lead to a resolution of the Palestinian conflict insured by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
3. What if the people who have negotiated international trade deals for America are diplomats and politicians who are immune from the decisions they make on international trade? What if those negotiators have focused on the State Departments diplomatic goals instead of the legitimate needs of business and workers? What if the trade agreements they have negotiated actually are detrimental to America’s economic interests?
Mr. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has withdrawn from the TransPacific Trade Partnership Agreement (TTP) and the environmental Paris Climate Accords and seeks to impose heavy trade sanctions on steel, aluminum and China. In each instance, the status quo has resulted in a threat to American manufacturing, an increase in the trade deficit and an onward flow of foreign aid and investment capital. In each instance, those agreements have followed the appeasement policies of the State Department to the detriment of American business and labor.
The result of such actions have been a sharp turn in American investment, job creation and recognition that the party is over for those nations who demand much and provide little.
4. What if the reduction of taxes actually does grow the economy? What if putting more money in the hands of consumers and businesses results in higher demand, increased investment, job creation and increased salaries? What if it is only the politicians who are worried that people who pay the most in taxes get the most real dollar benefit from decreases and that real people, working men and women actually recognize this logical result and are still grateful for the benefits they receive?
Unemployment at 4.1 percent as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is at the lowest level in seventeen years. The employment rate as measured by Labor Force Participation Rate has begun to increase after a nearly thirty year decline. The stock market has hit all time highs. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased to nearly three percent after nearly a decade of languishing below two percent. Wage levels are increasing, business investment is increasing, and labor productivity is increasing. And despite tax cuts, federal tax revenue is increasing. The new norm of low labor force participation, anemic wage growth, and anemic growth in the GDP has proven to be an abortion caused by the heavy hand of government regulation and burdensome taxes.
5. What if the continuing decline in academic performance is not due to the current level of education funding but, rather is due to teacher unions resisting any accountability for performance, for student discipline and for efficiency? What if parents are equally guilty for assuming that schools are primarily responsible for raising their children? What if Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss actually knows more about education that Eskelsen Garcia (head of the National Education Association) and Randi Weingarten (head of the American Federation of Teachers) combined?
We do not know the long-term effects of the Trump education policies as pressed by Ms. Devoss but we do know that for over three decades academic performance has declined actually and in comparison to other developed nations. We do know that Americans spend the highest amount per student capita of any developed nation without any visible improvement. We do know that all of this has occurred during a time in which the teachers unions have increased their power and have increased their financial resources through mandatory financial participation. We do know that the teachers unions are the primary obstacle to education accountability, including the protection of sexual deviants, poor performers and incompetents. We do know that during this period of time classroom discipline has all but disappeared, that teachers spend as much time on sociological conditions (personal hygiene, sexual issues, and interpersonal skills) as they do on academic progress and that they have failed on all such accounts.
6. What if the growth in the welfare state has actually increased poverty? What if the promotion of working for a living is the best avenue for reducing poverty, reducing government dependency and encouraging ambition?
The Heritage Foundation in a September 14, 2014 report (fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declare the War on Poverty) stated:
“In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.”
Today the poverty rate remains virtually unchanged while the number of people on welfare continues to accelerate. Job creation coupled with welfare disincentives for the able bodied will do more to change that equation than the multiple poverty programs that lack any enforced limitations on eligibility. New and stronger controls on legal and illegal immigration will reduce the number of people receiving welfare benefits – fifty-one percent of immigrant households receive welfare benefits, nearly double the number of native households.
The purpose of this column is not to suggest that Mr. Trump is prescient, or even original in thought. Most every thing mentioned above has been recognized and commented on for a decade or more. And yet the prevailing orthodoxy on all such issues has prevailed to the detriment of all. What Mr. Trump has brought to the table is the willingness to challenge prevailing orthodoxy along with an ability to think strategically about the alternatives.
Love or hate Mr. Trump your focus should not be on him as a person but rather on the direction that he is taking the country. For many of us who are tired of watching the decline of America, tired of accepting the government orthodoxy and tired of paying while being told to shut up because the political elites know what’s best, Mr. Trump has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t particularly care for Mr. Trump’s style but I am prepared to accept that it may be necessary to confront the swamp and its self-serving denizens.