Get over it! Get over it! Before the world gets stuck with Hillary Clinton in cahoots with some far-left VP like, for instance, Elizabeth Warren. This was my thought when I read yet another conservative dumping on Trump; effectively wishing upon the US at least four more years of feckless foreign policy, open borders, escalating debt, and an activist Supreme Court potentially stretching two decades and more into the future. This time it was Niall Ferguson – writing originally in the UK’s The Sunday Times, reprinted in The Weekend Australian, 14-15 May.
Ridiculous claims littered the article without the least bit of credible evidence. Apparently Donald Trump would be “a global wrecking ball [who] would simultaneous break up the transatlantic alliance, sour the Sino-American relationship [and possibly consummate a ‘bromance’ with Putin] that freezes the blood.” On the domestic front, according to Ferguson, the US Constitution and its separation of powers is the only bulwark against disaster. “So how can he be stopped?” Ferguson asks. Why not simply say ‘I don’t like the guy!’ and be done with it, instead of inventing a caricature of his policies to fill a column.
Let’s cut to the chase. Trump will not break up the transatlantic alliance. He wants NATO allies (and also South Korea and Japan and, no doubt, Australia) to relieve the US military of its disproportionate share of the heavy lifting and take more responsibility for defending themselves. As he says, the US, with $19 trillion-and-growing of debt, can’t do it anymore. World Bank figures (over the period 2011 to 2015) show US military spending at 3.5% of its huge GDP. Japan and Canada (what a joke) spend 1% of their GDP, Germany 1.2%, Italy 1.5 %, Australia 1.8%, the UK 2%, France 2.2% and South Korea 2.6%. Of America’s allies, only Israel pulls its weight (as it must, of course), spending 5.9%. Maybe I am missing something, but from an ‘America-first’ perspective, and as The Donald might say, what the heck is going on?
He knows that you don’t get a better deal unless those on the other side think you are serious about walking away. Is that too hard to get? Because he’s an entrepreneur and businessman, Trump knows that you only get a better deal if the other side has something to lose. And, not so strangely, so do a lot of common people who might have haggled in shops and markets. A potential walker always gets a better deal. Why otherwise would a salesperson ever drop the price?
Equally with China, he wants a better deal on trade, hence the suggestion of a tariff. Those cocooned in the media, in universities, in politics just don’t get it. And they repeat the mantra that Trump is against free trade. Listen up! There is no such thing as free trade. It doesn’t exist. That is why free-trade deals take so long to put together and are so tortuous and complex. If trade were free, simple one line communiqués would do it: “trade between our countries is free.” None exist.
And why is attempting a rapprochement with Russia so threatening. Talk about objecting for the sake of it. It wasn’t so long ago that Tony Blair suggested an alliance between the West and Russia to counter Islamic terrorism. Fine, it would be difficult; but, with North Korea, Iran and ISIS threatening world security, it might be sensible to at least try to forge better relations with Russia. After all, Hillary tried her ‘reset’ in 2009. Maybe Trump will have more success; he couldn’t have less.
What exactly is amiss with the principle of Trump’s policies to secure the borders, to prevent the entry of potential terrorists, and to enforce immigration laws that he would be sworn to uphold as president? Of course, practicalities will enter into it. They always do and he will have to compromise in order to get anything through congress. But compromise is better from a principled position.
Again it comes down to the art of dealing 101. Namby-pamby conservatives, who largely populate the Republican side of Congress, are going to water things down in any event; so why make it easier for them with a set of gutless proposals in the first place? Therein is the key to Trump’s thinking and, correspondingly, to the lack of insight and comprehension among the ‘Never Trumps’.
They don’t understand his way of thinking. For example, they want their candidate to promise to cut entitlements. First, that is the way not to get elected or, indeed, to get kicked out – as Joe Hockey and Tony Abbot found out here. Second, it places the cart before the horse.
Trump’s policy is clear enough for those not blinded by prejudice. In the first instance he intends to bring entitlement spending down by reinvigorating the economy — and creating jobs — through regulatory and taxation reform and better trade deals. That, in fact, is the only way to start doing anything of materiality. Now I am not sure what he intends doing after that but a vibrant and growing economy is a much better place to be in electorally — and economically — to begin the task of phasing in any tightening of entitlement programs.
As it stands, there are no politicians with the nous, courage or skill to renegotiate trade deals; to severely cut environmental regulations and increase the extraction and use of fossil fuels; or to reform taxation in order to boost investment and keep manufacturing from leaching abroad. Nor are there any politicians who will take effective and resolute action to rout ISIS, secure America’s borders, and prevent hordes of Muslims entering America at the cost of its safety and cultural integrity. Experience has shown that conclusively. And that is precisely why America (and the world) needs Trump. It is no accident that he has arisen: cometh the moment.
Finally, and fortunately, Niall Ferguson and Never-Trump intellectuals like him have only one vote each. It won’t amount to a hill of beans. A group of miners in a single West Virginian coal mine, who usually vote Democrat, and who have no illusions about the misery of unemployment, will switch and more than make up for them; scribble away bitterly as they might from their job-secure ivory towers.