Donald Trump isn’t a conservative, he’s a big-spending nationalist
As I wrote in these pages not long ago, I recently helped launch the Lincoln Project, joining a national group of Republicans and former Republicans who are concerned about the future of conservatism under President Trump.
Our mission is simple: To defeat Trump in 2020 and his biggest supporters in Congress so that conservative principles might return again to the center of the Republican Party.
We’ve received many responses. The majority are from Republicans rightfully questioning the dilemma facing conservatives: While we acknowledge the deep moral, ideological and personal failings of the president, how can we possibly not support a Republican president at a time when Democrats face a growing socialist wing in their party?
It’s a valid question. It’s important to note that throughout the last century, from William F. Buckley to Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party was the vehicle for modern conservatism — as such, the philosophy has always been more important than party. And both were far less important than our beloved country.
Conservatives should fight against all threats to freedom and government intrusion upon liberty — and fiscal imprudence. We must take a principled stand against the growth of government, the saddling of our children’s future with debt and attacks on a capitalist system that has provided the greatest standard of living in the world. We should strive to elect those who represent the best of us, leaders whose principles reflect our virtues.
Unfortunately, the main threat to conservatism is coming from Donald Trump. He has raised taxes, expanded government, saddled us and future generations with more debt and undermined free markets as much or more than any Democratic president in recent history.
Trump’s so-called tax reform actually raised taxes on millions of Americans. California readers of this newspaper know it better than anyone. Tax policy isn’t a core belief of this president, it’s a political cudgel. When Trump goes out of his way to punish coastal states by raising their taxes, that includes you.
Trump has raised tariffs, which are simply more taxes paid by consumers. American consumers paid 100 percent of the tariffs imposed on China. He’s raised tariffs as well on longtime American allies — Canada, Mexico and the European Union, all of them passed on as taxes on the goods and services you use every day.
Trump opposes free markets. The cornerstone of our capitalist system is free trade, now undermined by our Republican president. By withdrawing from free trade pacts with Canada, Mexico and the WTO, Trump betrayed the very place in our country — California — that has benefited most from these trade deals. Yes, he negotiated a new trade deal, but it was a deal he cut with only Democratic input, and Elizabeth Warren supports it, which tells you everything you need to know about it.
Trump has overseen massive growth in government spending. That’s right. Republican President Donald Trump is one of the biggest government spenders in U.S. history. Under him, our nation’s debt has reached $23 trillion and climbing, increasing about $3 trillion during his presidency.
Trump has spent billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing farmers purely to shore up support in the Midwest to offset the damage done by his tariffs. Trump has used the coercive taxing power of the state to take your money to subsidize farmers who are losing money because he raised your taxes and made their products less affordable — that’s a lot of bad tax policy.
These are the literal definitions of socialism, authoritarianism and moral corruption, three things to which the modern conservative movement used to stand in opposition. These are textbook definitions of left-wing radical approaches to government.
He is not a conservative — he is a cancer on America and her institutions. If your fear of not supporting Trump means you might face higher taxes, more government spending, explosive government growth and opposition to capitalism and free markets, Donald Trump has already accomplished more for a big government socialist agenda in America than any Democrat in modern history with the possible exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
This is not conservatism — it is populism. It’s time Republicans started calling it by its name.
There are those who will use fear to drive partisan loyalty on traditional conservatives this election cycle. They will seek to deflect from the moral and temperamental failings of our Republican president. But conservatives must resist. The only way to reclaim conservative principles is to both call out Trump’s actions, vote against him and demand we return to a philosophy of limited government and not big-spending nationalism.
Mike Madrid is a Republican political consultant and a board member of The Lincoln Project. Twitter: @madrid_mike
Originally published at https://www.ocregister.com on January 12, 2020.