Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Libertarians and Trump

By Laurence M. Vance

I have never been a member of the Libertarian Party. I don’t vote, so I’ve never voted for the Libertarian Party candidate in any presidential election. If I did vote, I would have probably clamped my nose in a vice and voted for Donald Trump before I would have voted for the pathetic 2016 Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld.

I don’t believe anything—no matter how good it sounds—that comes out of the mouth of any politician, and especially those who run for president. I don’t even get excited if they say “zero tariffs, zero subsidies, zero non-tariff barriers” because they will say whatever they think people want to hear if they think it will increase their chances of getting elected.

Donald Trump is no exception. I was never part of the “Libertarians for Trump” movement (but neither am I a member of the “never Trumpers”). I took every “good” thing Trump said during his presidential campaign with a truckload of salt. Now that Trump has been in office for over half of his term, I think it should be clear that Trump has been a disaster for liberty and limited government.

Yet, we sometimes hear from libertarians about the positives and accomplishments of President Trump. Whatever they are (and there are some), these are so greatly outweighed by Trump’s negatives and failed policies as to be insignificant.

It is a myth that Trump has cut the number of federal employees. The federal leviathan is as big, as powerful, and as intrusive as ever. Have any federal assets been sold? Have any federal lands been sold? The federal government still owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28 percent of the land in the United States, including 79 percent of Nevada. Have any federal departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, or boards been eliminated or significantly reduced? Of course not. Instead of draining the swamp, Trump has increased is level and toxicity.

Although Trump talked about reducing the national debt during his presidential campaign, that debt now exceeds $22 trillion and is expected to reach $23 trillion by the end of 2019. By the end of Trump’s first term, he will have added over $5 trillion to the national debt. That is almost as much as the debt increased during two full terms of George W. Bush. Trump joins Presidents Bush and Obama in having budget deficits of over $1 trillion. The federal budget is fast approaching $5 trillion annually. Trump asks for a higher budget each year, and especially more military spending.

Trump is said to have cut federal regulations. To give credit where credit is due, I believe he has rescinded some of President Obama’s regulations. But what major federal regulations has Trump cut? No one ever lists them. The federal government still regulates every facet of American life from the amount of water that toilets are allowed to flush to the size of holes in Swiss cheese.

Trump’s tax cut “is also undoubtedly the smallest, not the biggest, individual tax cut in history,” according to David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981–1985) under President Ronald Reagan. And don’t forget that Trump’s individual tax cuts are only temporary. Trump should be praised, however, for getting the corporate tax rate permanently cut. But not, of course, for increasing refundable tax credits, a form of welfare.

Americans still live in a virtual police state. If you have any doubt, then just see the many articles on this by John Whitehead that regularly appear on this website.

The federal war on drugs continues unabated. Has the budget of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) been cut? Have any of its employees been laid off? True, Trump commuted the life sentence of drug trafficker Alice Johnson. But over 2,000 federal prisoners are serving life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Did Trump commute Johnson’s sentence because he wants to end the drug war? Of course not. Did Trump commute her sentence because he doesn’t think that anyone should be locked up for a non-violent drug crime? Of course not. It was a political move, like much of what Trump (and any other politician) does. Trump has called for the death penalty for some drug dealers and has praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for his handling of the drug problem in his country.

Trump has been absolutely horrible on foreign policy. U.S. soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan. U.S. troops still occupy hundreds of foreign military bases and are still stationed in over 150 countries. The United States has never been closer to war with Iran. Trump has brought home from North Korea the bodies of some dead U.S. soldiers, but not one living U.S. soldier has been brought home from some country where he has no business being. U.S. foreign policy is still reckless, belligerent, and meddling. See the website of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity any day of the week for all the follies of U.S. foreign policy.

Trump’s trade policies have been an absolute disaster for the economy. Trump is an ignorant protectionist and economic nationalist, through and through. On the true state of Trump’s economy, I prefer the analysis of David Stockman instead of government statistics.

The United States may now be the world’s top oil producer, but it hasn’t resulted in something far more important—U.S. disengagement from the Middle East.

And what are these “good stands” that Trump has taken? Venezuela? Protectionist tariffs? Afghanistan? Military spending? Foreign interventions? Syria? Yemen? The Iran deal?

It is often pointed out that unlike other presidents, Trump is not politically correct. That, of course, is a good thing. However, vulgarity, insults, and rudeness should not be mistaken for political incorrectness.

But, we are told, the deep state, the Democrats, and the news media are relentless in their attacks on Trump therefore we should support him. I despise all three entities, but hasten to point out that most of their criticisms are not my criticisms and most of my criticisms are not their criticisms. I can support Trump against these entities only when he is in the right.

Crumbs indeed are what we are getting from Donald Trump as far as liberty and limited government are concerned. Trump may be “better” than Hillary, Obama, and Bush, but not by enough to cheer him.

-Laurence M. Vance is a columnist and policy advisor for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger, and book reviewer at LewRockwell.com. He is the author of Gun Control and the Second Amendment, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and War, Empire and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society. Visit his website: www.vancepublications.com. Send him an e-mail.

The above originally appeared at LRC and is reprinted with permission of the author. 


  1. I generally like Vance especially since he is not a open border libertarian retard on immigration, but he provides zero evidence that the tariff's have been 'disastrous' for the economy. There are some sound reasons for hemming in China which is a violent communist state. Of course, I know libertardians rejoice at the loss of American jobs.

    Overall, what he has said is not untrue. I'm certainly not going to vote for open borders or the destruction of the economy with 'free trade' dogma. Libertarians have offered some really laughable candidates.

    1. Whenever trade occurs between 2 willing parties, there is a mutually-beneficial, economic effect. Ipso facto, when a 3rd-Party impedes or prevents such transactions, there is detriment to the parties to the erstwhile transaction and ergo damage to the economy.
      Why the f*** is that so hard for tariff-lovers, Trump-suckers, and interventionists to understand? It's so simple, even a caveman could get it.

  2. TLM,
    In 2018, the Trump administration announced a $12 billion dollar bailout plan for farmers impacted by Trump’s tariffs. Politico states: the administration’s plan is expected to use two commodity support programs in the farm bill, as well as the Agriculture Department’s broad authority to stabilize the agricultural economy during times of turmoil by buying up excess supply. The plan is also expected to focus on providing aid to the dairy sector in particular...(the plan) seeks to ensure that US farmers and ranchers...don’t bear the brunt of an escalating trade fight with China, the European Union and other major economies... There’s more, but I’ll stop.

    The $12 billion has already been sent to farmers with another $16 billion to be sent later this year or early next year. Trump’s tariffs amount to a tax on Americans - above and beyond the taxes they already pay. Murray Rothbard said: “The tariff principle is an attack on the market, and its logical goal is the self-sufficiency of industrial producers; it is a goal, if realized, would spell poverty for all...It would be a regression from civilization to barbarism.” That, along with the extra tax that a tariff is, along with many Americans thinking that implementing tariffs against foreign producers is a great negotiating tactic in spite of the lower standard of living caused by tariffs, IS disastrous for the economy.

    1. Derek, how would that qualify as a 'disaster'? China has been screwing us over for years starting with rapist Bill and help from Team R as always. Obama also loves Chinese Communist.

      What about the jobs lost via outsourcing? I'm guessing those manufacturing workers bought a lot less dairy and steak after they lost their factory jobs. Yes, I'm for abolishing minimum wage and doing away with some outdated compensation schemes dictated by the government. Unions usually do themselves no favors either.

      I myself buy refurbished or discounted electronics if I need something. So maybe I'll have to pay an extra nickel at Horror Freight for a sanding disk. So what? China seems to be sinking from the tariff battle or else they would not be so resolute.

      Tim Cook, the homo who hates white Americans, got some waiver from Trump and will assemble some Macs in Austin. But as I said, libertarians would prefer unemployed Americans.

  3. Mr. Vance, you had me at "I don't vote."

  4. I appreciate that someone would write a response to one of my articles. I don’t see Laurence Vance and me as enemies, we want so many of the same things.

    I cited 18 positives of which Vance agreed with me on 3 (to varying degrees), ignored 11 and disagreed with 4—-one of which I had cited an article in support of what I stated while he cited an article stating things were otherwise.

    Surprisingly, while I voted for Johnson--as in I did not vote for Trump--among the 3 candidates on the Georgia ballot, Vance now says that he would have voted for Trump if he had decided to vote!

    He chastises anyone who sees as a positive what politicians say. The natural order of things is that policies have to be articulated before they ever get implemented; they don’t just spring into being. So, I say please, to every politician, speak often and enthusiastically our correct policies.

    Besides that, our greatest area of disagreement is that I would give Trump one cheer while he would refrain from such despite his stating Trump may be “better” than Hillary, Obama, and Bush. In any case, in my article I said Trump has been disastrous in many cases and that the positives are relative crumbs for libertarians. I see his article and Bob’s reprinting of it from LRC.com as the libertarian virtue signaling I mentioned. Peace to both of you!

  5. Saying Trump might be better than his predecessors (he's not, but I digress) is like saying one would rather drown than burn to death.