Election Day arrives. What to do? Here’s my thinking.
1. Like Peggy Noonan, I’m all for Sane Donald Trump (for the reasons she gives). But Real Donald Trump is a little crazy, no? He’s had a whole campaign to convince us otherwise — it’s really all he had to do! — and he’s been at best semi-successful. If he’s actually not crazy — if the calmer Trump we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks is the real man — this failure is even more inexplicable. If he loses, that will obviously be the main reason. Sane Trump would win in a landslide (as Noonan notes).
2. What about the alternative to Trump? The big problem with Hillary Clinton isn’t that she promises a dreary and unimaginative continuation of our current course (“Inertia“), though she does. Or that, undeterred by her disastrous judgment on Libya, she seems almost W-like in her eagerness to prosecute an idealistic-but-unnecessary confrontation with Russia. Or that she may be a “crook.”** I don’t care about her damn emails. There are bigger things at stake.
Presidential terms tend to get measured — rightly — by large pieces of legislation. The Social Security Act. The Wagner Act. The Civil Rights Act. Medicare. NAFTA. Obamacare. The Constitution makes it hard to pass these bills; when we do it’s a big deal. The main problem with Hillary, then, remains that she’s committed to her party’s highly irresponsible legislative push regarding who gets to become an American, a push that threatens to over time dissolve our national project through what will effectively be “open trade and open borders.” One of Hillary’s first acts — if not the first — will be to run to Congress to get them to pass an amnesty-first-enforcement-maybe immigration law that, in practice, will commit the U.S. to serial amnesties of people who come here illegally — people whose numbers are likely to increase as succeeding generations abroad realize that if they can just reach U.S. soil they’ll qualify for the next amnesty.*** Maybe this legislation can be stopped in a Republican House currently led by a pro-amnesty Speaker. Maybe it can’t. But the prospect of losing effective control of our borders is an “existential threat” far greater than any posed when a blustering Trump suggests he’ll protest losing the election or sue his enemies.
You can look at what is happening in Europe now for a taste of what uncontrolled borders would mean. Most significantly, they’d make it virtually impossible to maintain the kind of tight labor market that would reliably boost incomes of Americans who perform basic labor (the very people who’ve done the worst in recent decades) and force American capitalists to draw those wavering near the margins of society into the work force.
I don’t doubt ‘free movement of goods and people’ would produce a higher GDP. But it would also pull our country apart and make the traditional American idea of social equality near-impossible. We’d move to a (high growth!) Hong-Kongish, beehive-like meritocracy in which richer, smarter people can’t help but look down on a poor, dispensable low-paid (and increasingly subsidy-dependent) unskilled work force. Those invidious attitudes are already in evidence.
Trump opens up a different path, where we are willing give up a few points of GDP — slowing trade, controlling the influx of eager new workers — in order to have the kind of society we want, where communities are displaced more slowly and “we are equal in the eyes of each other.”**** We could still let in plenty of newcomers, of course. But we would democratically choose to do so.
Add to this Trump’s seeming intention to protect entitlements from Ryanesque plans that subject them to market-like uncertainty, and his resistance to regime-changing military adventures, and you’ve beneficially transformed the Republican party along four major axes.
3. If Trump were clearly going to lose, I’d definitely vote for him! An actual Trump victory (as Ann Coulter says) is the clearest way to send both parties a definitive message: ‘Stop trying to cram uncontrolled trade and immigration down our throats.’ A big, almost-winning Trump vote is the next best way to send that message.
But Trump’s not doomed. He might win. I don’t have that out.
4. He’s doomed in California, though! And I live in Los Angeles. So I will vote for him without further agonizing, secure in the knowledge that it can’t possibly affect who is actually elected. It will, however, help send the message that even in a one-party blue state (blued by immigration) there are dissenters.
5. Is that a cop-out? Well, yes, it is. When people ask me whom I’ll vote for they really want to know if I’d rather Trump be President than Clinton. My thinking on this, alas, hasn’t much changed since I tried to answer the question last year. Trump is a candidate of high risks ***** (including the foreign policy risk described by Ross Douthat here) and high potential rewards (see #2, above). But — domestically, at least — the courts and Congress will have a fine old time keeping him under control. Clinton’s risks are substantial too — including the risk of war with Russia — but more limited, as are the potential rewards (and even those, like fixing Obamacare, seem remote if Republicans retain Congress).
It’s one of those lifeboat questions you ask yourself when you aren’t being ‘mindful’ — whom do you throw overboard, your sister or a prize-winning scientist? — and then learn not to ask yourself. I don’t think anyone can honestly answer it without knowing their own, individual appetite for risk, including serious risks (like war). I’d take the Trump risk. You may choose otherwise.
**–The nation might be well-enough served by “a crook who knows her business,” as Jackie Mason might put it.
*** — Do political consultants say we have to have an amnesty to avoid alarming Latino and Asian voters? If that’s true, then the next time around there will only be more voters to placate. Hence, amnesty after amnesty.
**** — Preserving social equality won’t solve the problem of atomization — loneliness and lack of community. It won’t tell us what to do when more and more unskilled (and skilled) work is taken over by robots. But I’d hope it’s a feature of whatever solutions we might come up with. And the principle of tempering the pursuit of maximum GDP — in the name of other values –seems important.
***** — Yes, this Includes a very small but not completely nonexistent risk of stumbling into a use of nuclear weaponry. I urge you to read this underpublicized piece by Ron Rosenbaum — on Trump’s nuclear arms-control obsession in the late 80s — before you get too worried, though.
Gotta Vote Sometime https://t.co/QZh0NYiLnz
So @kausmickey ‘s voting Trump! https://t.co/vvRR6ZCgJd
“I’d take the Trump risk. You may choose otherwise.” A really detailed @kausmickey explanation of how he’s voting: https://t.co/l4tKmG04Fn
Gotta Vote Sometime https://t.co/LPMCNR2tP2
“Trump is a candidate of high risks . . . and high potential rewards” https://t.co/nvJNVrGgRM
.@KausMickey decides whom to vote for: https://t.co/0CkKRiFkza
The case for @realDonaldTrump as the Muswell Hillbilly candidate .. https://t.co/QZh0NYiLnz
Mickey Kaus’s argument for voting Trump while hoping Trump doesn’t win: https://t.co/MRi4mWVAnW
Gotta Vote Sometime | Mickey Kaus will vote for @realDonaldTrump! Yay! https://t.co/44CQM56ZFh
MUST READ: Gotta Vote Sometime | Mickey Kaus https://t.co/44CQM56ZFh
>’The real problem with Hillary is that she’s committed to her party’s highly irresponsible legislative push regarding sho gets to become American.’
The real problem with Hillary is she is committed to her party’s highly irresponsible habit of smashing major American industries for trivial purposes. Break big coal. Smash American health insurance. Take a half billion dollar bribe from Microsoft’s competitors to sue Microsoft- this ended then dot-com boom, which was fed byt capital flight from other industries previously hit by the D party- Ralph Nader and Pat Moynihan breaking Detroit’s big three, JFK breaking Big Steel, even Jimmy Carter’s judge breaking Bell Labs.
On the plus side, when D party attacks break an American industry, they kill America’s power of technological improvement. Fewer workers out of work due to improved technology! They are already out of work because you broke their jobs, so it’s a twofer.
Your argument would be more compelling if it acknowledged just how far both Trump and Trumpism are from what you profess to care about:
“Uncontrolled borders would… make it virtually impossible to maintain the kind of tight labor market that would reliably boost incomes of Americans who perform basic labor (the very people who’ve done the worst in recent decades) and force American capitalists to draw those wavering near the margins of society into the work force. ‘Free movement of goods and people’ would … pull our country apart and make the traditional American idea of social equality near-impossible.”
1) you do know (I hope) that Trump doesn’t actually care a bit about any of this? I assume your argument is that Trump has by now backed himself into a corner on immigration, so it doesn’t matter if he cares. And you may be right. But he’s left an awful lot of broken contracts in his wake.
2) I wonder how you reconcile your goals with a huge cut to taxes for rich, modest rise to many lower/middle income taxes, block-granting-cum-slow-death of Medicaid and SNAP, etc. These are by far the most predictable outcomes of a Trump presidency (more than any desired outcome on immigration–who knows what would come out of the sausage machine there), and run pretty directly counter to the things you claim to care about.
3) And beyond that, the idea of Trump as champion of the little guy seems absurd. Any program that he comes up with either be spoonfed by the GOP think-tank apparatus, or else a totally random product of his odd but essentially elitist and totally self-interested mind. The notion that the country moves toward social equality under Trump seems ludicrous.
4) Nor does it matter at all to you that a large chunk of Trump’s support on immigration is racially-motivated? Even if you see immigration as a big issue, if it is accompanied by regression on race relations then isn’t is suspect? The idea is that the racists are going to act out anyhow, so we’d better appease them? Odd idea of social equality.
5) Maybe this is too squishy, but I’m bothered by immigration discourse which does not acknowledge and work to mitigate the immense human suffering that is on the table. Do you discount those costs? Deportation of 10-15 million people will have serious impacts and pain associated. We’re talking about teens that have spent their whole lives here, families being broken up, dislocation of businesses, etc. In my view, that should be part of the discussion.
If you’re argument is that they won’t REALLY get deported, then first off, I’ll let you be the one to break that to Trump’s supporters, but second, it seems that doubling down on enforcement AND amnesty will get you a lot closer to that social equality thing you say you support. Otherwise we continue to have millions of undocumented driving down wages for decades to come.
6) It seems to me that immigration is becoming increasinly important for first-world nations, as way of sustaining vitality. Japan is really feeling the greying of the population. Some European countries are on the cusp. China is facing a serious demographic crisis. I think in 20-30 years we will look back and say “thank God we had so much immigration.” Now I get that you want it to be legal, etc. Sure, I agree. But your (and Trump supporters’) motivating perspective appears to be a very simplistic one that “immigration is bad.” I do not see how that attitude serves us well moving forward. I think we need to do immigration intelligently, and I’ll agree, in a controlled way, but stoking anti-immigrant attitudes don’t serve us well in learning how to get better at accomodating a lot of new citizens, which is, I think, what we will need to do, and one of our great competitive strengths as a nation.
Let’s see, from my POV, here’s what matters:
1. Obama & the D’s grew the national debt by approx. $10 trillion since they took over the Congress (Jan. 07) and White House (Jan. 09). There hasn’t been the slightest (internal) thought about constraining the national fiscal blowout. Adult behavior, both personally and publicly, requires fiscal discipline. (“Socialism is infantilism.”)
2. Our corporate income tax laws only provide 12% of our federal revenues, but drive our corporations overseas, thanks to the high top marginal rate (35%). Hillary kowtows to the infantile wing of her D. Party, saying the high income/wealthy have to pay “their fair share.” Corporations must pay more, blah, blah. Never mind that our overall federal tax code is the most progressive of any First World country. (That’s all taxes combined: individual income tax, payroll tax, corporate income tax, estate taxes, excise taxes, etc.).
3. Hillary would continue the push for drastically reducing our use of carbon-based fuels, even natural gas (which burns to water & CO2 – no “real” pollutants of any sort), driving up our electric utility costs. (The “science” behind global warming is not “settled.” Did you know that there were 285 peer-reviewed climate papers for the decade of 1965 – 1975 worrying about the onset of another Little Ice Age?) Poxy analysis puts CO2 atmospheric densities above 2,000 PPM 5 or 10 million years ago. Today it’s 400 PPM, 5 times less. We’re in an unusual cold snap for the past 3 to 6 million years. Nobody knows exactly why. It was much warmer in the past. (Enough of that!)
4. Since the major federalization of our means-tested welfare system after 1965 with LBJ’s Great Society anti-poverty programs were passed, we saw the out-of-wedlock birthrate skyrocket. It went from 5% of births to 22% by 1980 and 40%+ today. (The 1996 Welfare Reform Act did not slow it down any.) It’s at the heart of many of our anti-social behaviors in the lowest income groups: high school dropout rates, high crime rates/incarceration rates, low job skills, esp. for young males. There’s no solution at the federal level. It’s a fool’s errand to try to “fix” them – they need to be transitioned back to the 50 states. Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, made an excellent case on PBS for doing that. Discussed how he did such things in New Mexico as governor for 8 years (Medicaid, jobs programs, etc.). Hillary Clinton would continue our current federalized welfare programs – actually make them worse.
5. Mickey’s points about immigration go without saying. No need for me to discuss them in this comment. Victor Davis Hanson appears in a Roger L Simon 4-minute video on his farm near Sacramento in the Central Valley. It’s a real eye-opener for someone not familiar with the 18 million influx of Hispanics into California over the past 40 or 50 years. (Instapundit posted about it.)
Mickey Kaus’ decision to vote for a racist is one of the few predictable things to occur this year. https://t.co/3T4cNBiCzj
RT @davidfrum: “Even the liberal New Republic …” https://t.co/j2UCpAvwPX
The one where @kausmickey finally announces who he will vote for: https://t.co/ADtiiFpLnt
Mickey Kaus on why if you live in LA you should vote Trump: “Gotta Vote Sometime” https://t.co/8ZYVVHtkwU
Trump gets tentative endorsement and vote from anti-open borders leftist
It’s official: @kausmickey is voting for Trump (but not because he wants him to win) https://t.co/JXFBPXige8
I fear readers will just care about the penultimate line, but this clear candor from @kausmickey is about much more: https://t.co/PFygwSyunQ
[…] it because A) I was afraid it would make my progressive friends mad at me, and B) I discovered that Mickey Kaus had already said pretty much exactly what I wanted to say (but better) in his election-eve blog […]
@ddale8 @maggieNYT @kausmickey https://t.co/lw97kZYGmT
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