Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Trump: A Libertarian Dissent

By Laurence M. Vance

If President Obama had talked about how he was “really smart,” “very intelligent,” and “a very stable genius,” Republicans and conservatives would have attacked him unmercifully. Yet, when President Trump says these things, most of them are silent. One reason is because it violates Reagan’s eleventh commandment to never speak ill of any fellow Republican. But another reason is because some conservatives seem to have an even higher opinion of Trump than he has of himself.
Before continuing I should state for the record that
I am not part of the “Never Trump” movement, that I despise the news media, that I would like to see America be made great again, and that I loathe Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders with every cell in my body. I did not vote for Trump, but that is because I don’t vote for anyone not named Ron Paul.
Even before Trump completed his first year in office, some conservatives began compiling lists of what they viewed as his “spectacular,” “stupendous,” and “mind-boggling” first-year accomplishments. One conservative prefaces her list thusly:
In only 12 months, it’s fair to say that he has already had an extraordinary presidency––more bold, courageous, and revolutionary than any American president since the Founding Fathers almost two-and-a-half centuries ago.
That is quite an assessment. As a libertarian, I must dissent. I have no choice, not when I read what conservatives are praising President Trump for.
The aforementioned list compiled by the former nurse and psychotherapist and now “New York based journalist” who “writes for numerous conservative websites” is indebted to “numerous pundits and websites have been keeping close track of Pres. Trump’s first-year accomplishments.” She credits “each and every one of them” with helping her to “compile the following list of President Trump’s mind-boggling first-year accomplishments.” And yet, the list is just a “tiny percentage of the smashing successes the president has brought about since his inauguration.” It is just “the proverbial drop in the bucket!”
First of all, there is no question that some things on the list are good:
  • A record low Latino unemployment rate
  • A 17-year low Black unemployment rate
  • A 17-year low overall unemployment rate
  • The lowest number of food stamp recipients in seven years
  • High economic growth in the third quarter of 2017
  • A 7-year high in mortgage applications for new homes
  • A booming stock market
  • Lowest gas prices in more than 12 years
But can we really say that Trump is responsible for these things? Take gas prices. They have been steadily falling since their peak in 2012. How is it that Trump is responsible for the low price of a gallon of gasoline in 2017? But this works both ways. Gas priceshave increased from an average of $2.45 a gallon around Christmas to $2.58 a gallon only a month later. Using the same logic as the typical conservative, can’t we condemn Trump because gas prices have increased over the last month? And why is it that conservatives never mention that gas prices doubled during George W. Bush’s eight years in office?
We are also told that one of Trump ‘s accomplishments is this: “A decrease in the U.S. debt by $101-billion dollars! (In his first five months, the poseur ‘president’ Barack Obama increased the U.S. debt by $771-billion dollars).” Forgetting for a minute that $ means dollars, let’s take a look at how the national debt has increased under Trump. The fact that the debt went down for a brief period during Trump’s first year in office means nothing. The debt fluctuates under any president. According to the U.S. Treasury’s Treasury Direct, the national debt was $19,947,304,555,212.49 on January 20, 2017—the day that Trump was inaugurated. On January 20, 2018, it had increased to $20,493,342,622,878.63. That is an increase of over half a trillion dollars. There is nothing about the budget deficit in our conservative journalist’s list—and for good reason. The budget deficit for fiscal year 2017 (which ended on Sept. 30, 2017) was $666 billion. It is expected to climb to over a trillion dollars—a high it reached during both the Bush and Obama years.
And what are some other of President Trump’s accomplishments?
  • Declared a nationwide Public Health Emergency on opioids and laid out a new five-point strategy to fight the crisis.
  • Signed Executive Order for an Apprentice program to train skilled works to fill six-million open positions.
  • Traveled to Poland for the annual. G-20 meeting where he pushed again for funding of women entrepreneurs.
  • Launched the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February.
  • Prioritized women-owned businesses for some $500 million in SBA loans.
Do any of these “accomplishments” reduce the size or scope of government? Are any of them authorized by the Constitution? Why, then, are they considered to be accomplishments?
When it comes to foreign policy and the military, Trump’s accomplishments touted by conservatives are actually failures.
Here are some of Trump’s foreign policy “accomplishments”:
  • Increased the sanctions on Iran and refused to recertify Obama’s disastrous agreement with the nuke-hungry mullahs.
  • Bombed a Syrian airfield and destroyed a fifth of Assad’s jet fighters.
  • Took the gloves off our military and ended ISIS’s “caliphate.”
  • Rolled back Obama’s cringing concessions to Cuba.
  • Put Russia on notice by recommitting to the Magnitsky Act and increasing sanctions on regime oligarchs.
U.S. foreign policy has not changed one iota under Trump. It is still reckless, belligerent, meddling, interventionist, and evil. Although Trump scuttled the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he did so because it would result in “unfair trade practices and enormous trade deficits for the United States,” not because he believes that real free trade needs no government trade agreements. And Trump just imposed high tariffs on solar panels and washing machines.
Here are some of Trump’s military “accomplishments”:
  • Removed Obama’s “crushing Rules of Engagement in combat” and “empowered military leaders to ‘seize the initiative and win’”
  • Dropped the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) in Afghanistan, killing “a hundred or more of the worst human beings since Hitler”
  • Increased the size of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Increased defense spending
  • Approved a 2.4 percent pay raise for U.S. troops
The number of U.S. troops who died in war zones rose in 2017 for the first time in six years. At least 33 military personnel were killed in war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Niger, and Somalia compared to 26 last year, according to an analysis of casualty statements released by the Pentagon. I note also that U.S. special forces operated in 143 countries last year, or nearly three quarters of the world’s countries.
Although Trump has relaxed some onerous federal regulations, we still have massive government intervention in the economy and society. And that’s not all. We still have a welfare state that Lyndon Johnson could only have dreamed of. We still have a warfare state that bombs, maims, and kills; makes terrorists, widows, and orphans; and enriches the military-industrial complex. We still have a war on drugs that ruins more lives than drugs themselves. We still live in a growing police state that is anything but a free society.
And now Trump has signed into a law a measure extending the NSA’s surveillance powers until 2023 and consolidating the FBI’s authority to search those communications without a warrant. As recently described by Judge Andrew Napolitano:
During the past three weeks, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law vast new powers for the NSA and the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and selectively to pass on to law enforcement the fruits of that spying.
Those fruits can now lawfully include all fiber-optic data transmitted to or in the United States, such as digital recordings of all landline and mobile telephone calls and copies in real time of all text messages and emails and banking, medical and legal records electronically stored or transmitted.
Tell the parents of U.S. soldiers who have senselessly died in vain in “shithole” countries since Trump became president about his “accomplishments.” Don’t tell us libertarians.

Laurence M. Vance  writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest book is The Making of the King James Bible—New Testament. Visit his website.


  1. Is “the worst human beings since Hitler” the grown-up version of "icky"? I know that name-calling like actual children do is the new, exciting thing, but Jesus Christ, what an intellectual lightweight.

    1. Didn't it occur to you that Vance was being sarcastic?

    2. To be fair, I've just realised she also quoted that part. So I guess the chain of imbecility goes: James Lewis of American Thinker is an idiot, Joan Swirsky of News With Views is a simpleton, Laurence Vance is a good guy.

  2. He's not called the Idiocrat in Chief for nothing!