Big Tech, Black Lives Matter, censorship, China, Conservative Populism, conservatives, Democrats, economic nationalism, election 2020, entertainment, environment, free expression, freedom of speech, George Floyd, Hollywood, Hunter Biden, Immigration, impeachment, industrial policy, Joe Biden, Josh Hawley, journalism, Mainstream Media, Marco Rubio, police killings, Populism, progressives, regulations, Republicans, Robert Reich, Russia-Gate, sanctions, Silicon Valley, social media, supply chains, tariffs, taxes, technology, Trade, trade war, Trump, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ukraine Scandal, Wall Street, wokeness
Given what 2020 has been like for most of the world (although I personally have little cause for complaint), and especially Washington Post coverage of endless early voting lines throughout the Maryland surburbs of the District of Columbia, I was expecting to wait for hours in bad weather to cast my ballot for President Trump. Still, I was certain that Election Day circumstances would be a complete mess, so hitting the polling place this week seemed the least bad option.
Hence my amazement that the worst case didn’t pan out – and that in fact, I was able to kill two birds with one stone. My plan was to check out the situation, including parking, at the University of Maryland site closest to my home on my way to the supermarket. But the scene was so quiet that I seized the day, masked up, and was able to feed my paper ballot into the recording machine within about ten minutes.
My Trump vote won’t be surprising to any RealityChek regulars or others who have been in touch with on or off social media in recent years. Still, it seems appropriate to explain why, especially since I haven’t yet spelled out some of the most important reasons.
Of course, the President’s positions on trade (including a China challenge that extends to technology and national security) and immigration have loomed large in my thinking, as has Mr. Trump’s America First-oriented (however unevenly) approach to foreign policy. (For newbies, see all the posts here under “[What’s Left of] Our Economy,” and “Our So-Called Foreign Policy,” and various freelance articles that are easily found on-line.). The Biden nomination has only strengthened my convictions on all these fronts, and not solely or mainly because of charges that the former Vice President has been on Beijing’s payroll, via his family, for years.
As I’ve reported, for decades he’s been a strong supporter of bipartisan policies that have greatly enriched and therefore strengthened this increasingly aggressive thug-ocracy. It’s true that he’s proposed to bring back stateside supply chains for critical products, like healthcare and defense-related goods, and has danced around the issue of lifting the Trump tariffs. But the Silicon Valley and Wall Street tycoons who have opened their wallets so wide for him are staunchly opposed to anything remotely resembling a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies and especially technology bases
Therefore, I can easily imagine Biden soon starting to ease up on sanctions against Chinese tech companies – largely in response to tech industry executives who are happy to clamor for subsidies to bolster national competitiveness, but who fear losing markets and the huge sunk costs of their investments in China. I can just as easily imagine a Biden administration freeing up bilateral trade again for numerous reasons: in exchange for an empty promise by Beijing to get serious about fighting climate change; for a deal that would help keep progressive Democrats in line; or for an equally empty pledge to dial back its aggression in East Asia; or as an incentive to China to launch a new round of comprehensive negotiations aimed at reductions or elimination of Chinese trade barriers that can’t possibly be adequately verified. And a major reversion to dangerous pre-Trump China-coddling can by no means be ruled out.
Today, however, I’d like to focus on three subjects I haven’t dealt with as much that have reinforced my political choice.
First, and related to my views on trade and immigration, it’s occurred to me for several years now that between the Trump measures in these fields, and his tax and regulatory cuts, that the President has hit upon a combination of policies that could both ensure improved national economic and technological competitiveness, and build the bipartisan political support needed to achieve these goals.
No one has been more surprised than me about this possibility – which may be why I’ve-hesitated to write about it. For years before the Trump Era, I viewed more realistic trade policies in particular as the key to ensuring that U.S.-based businesses – and manufacturers in particular – could contribute the needed growth and jobs to the economy overall even under stringent (but necessary) regulatory regimes for the environment, workplace safety, and the like by removing the need for these companies to compete with imports from countries that ignored all these concerns (including imports coming from U.S.-owned factories in cheap labor pollution havens like China and Mexico).
I still think that this approach would work. Moreover, it contains lots for folks on the Left to like. But the Trump administration has chosen a different economic policy mix – high tariffs, tax and regulatory relief for business, and immigration restrictions that have tightened the labor market. And the strength of the pre-CCP Virus economy – including low unemployment and wage growth for lower-income workers and minorities – attests to its success.
A Trump victory, as I see it, would result in a continuation of this approach. Even better, the President’s renewed political strength, buoyed by support from more economically forward-looking Republicans and conservatives like Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri, could bring needed additions to this approach – notably, more family-friendly tax and regulatory policies (including childcare expense breaks and more generous mandatory family leave), and more ambitious industrial policies that would work in tandem with tariffs and sanctions to beat back the China technology and national security threat.
Moreover, a big obstacle to this type of right-of-center (or centrist) conservative populism and economic nationalism would be removed – the President’s need throughout the last four years to support the stances of the conventional conservatives that are still numerous in Congress in order to ensure their support against impeachment efforts.
My second generally undisclosed (here) reason for voting Trump has to do with Democrats and other Trump opponents (although I’ve made this point repeatedly on Facebook to Never Trumper friends and others). Since Mr. Trump first announced his candidacy for the White House back in 2015, I’ve argued that Americans seeking to defeat him for whatever reason needed to come up with viable responses to the economic and social grievances that gave him a platform and a huge political base. Once he won the presidency, it became even more important for his adversaries to learn the right lessons.
Nothing could be clearer, however, than their refusal to get with a fundamentally new substantive program with nationally unifying appeal. As just indicated, conventional Republicans and conservatives capitalized on their role in impeachment politics to push their longstanding but ever more obsolete (given the President’s overwhelming popularity among Republican voters) quasi-libertarian agenda, at least on domestic policy.
As for Democrats and liberals, in conjunction with the outgoing Obama administration, the countless haters in the intelligence community and elsewhere in the permanent bureaucracy, and the establishment conservatives Mr. Trump needed to staff much of his administration, they concentrated on ousting an elected President they considered illegitimate, and wasted more than three precious years of the nation’s time. And when they weren’t pushing a series of charges that deserve the titles “Russia Hoax” and “Ukraine Hoax,” the Democrats and liberals were embracing ever more extreme Left stances as scornful of working class priorities as their defeated 2016 candidate’s description of many Trump voters as “deplorables.”
I see no reason to expect any of these factions to change if they defeat the President this time around. And this forecast leads me to my third and perhaps most important reason for voting Trump. As has been painfully obvious especially since George Floyd’s unacceptable death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the type of arrogance, sanctimony and – more crucially – intolerance that has come to permeate Democratic, liberal, and progressive ranks has now spread widely into Wall Street and the Big Business Sector.
To all Americans genuinely devoted to representative and accountable government, and to the individual liberties and vigorous competition of ideas and that’s their fundamental foundation, the results have been (or should be) nothing less than terrifying. Along with higher education, the Mainstream Media, Big Tech, and the entertainment and sports industries, the nation’s corporate establishment now lines up squarely behind the idea that pushing particular political, economic, social, and cultural ideas and suppressing others has become so paramount that schooling should turn into propaganda, that news reporting should abandon even the goal of objectivity, that companies should enforce party lines in the workplace and agitate for them in advertising and sponsorship practices, and that free expression itself needed a major rethink.
And oh yes: Bring on a government-run “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to investigate – and maybe prosecute – crimes and other instances of “wrongdoing” by the President, by (any?) officials in his administration. For good measure, add every “politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled” the Trump “catastrophe,” as former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich has demanded. Along with a Scarlet Letter, or worse, for everyone who’s expressed any contrary opinion in the conventional or new media? Or in conversation with vigilant friends or family?
That Truth Commission idea is still pretty fringe-y. So far. But not too long ago, many of the developments described above were, too. And my chief worry is that if Mr. Trump loses, there will be no major national institution with any inclination or power to resist this authoritarian tide.
It’s reasonable to suppose that more traditional beliefs about free expression are so deeply ingrained in the national character that eventually they’ll reassert themselves. Pure self-interest will probably help, too. In this vein, it was interesting to note that Walmart, which has not only proclaimed its belief that “Black Lives Matter,” but promised to spend $100 million on a “center for racial equality” just saw one of its Philadelphia stores ransacked by looters during the unrest that has followed a controversial police shooting.
But at best, tremendous damage can be done between now and “eventually.” At worst, the active backing of or acquiescence in this Woke agenda by America’s wealthiest, most influential forces for any significant timespan could produce lasting harm to the nation’s life.
As I’ve often said, if you asked me in 2015, “Of all the 300-plus million Americans, who would you like to become President?” my first answer wouldn’t have been “Donald J. Trump.” But no other national politician at that point displayed the gut-level awareness that nothing less than policy disruption was needed on many fronts, combined with the willingness to enter the arena and the ability to inspire mass support.
Nowadays, and possibly more important, he’s the only national leader willing and able to generate the kind of countervailing force needed not only to push back against Woke-ism, but to provide some semblance of the political pluralism – indeed, diversity – required by representative, accountable government. And so although much about the President’s personality led me to mentally held my nose at the polling place, I darkened the little circle next to his name on the ballot with no hesitation. And the case for Mr. Trump I just made of course means that I hope many of you either have done or will do the same.
One edit to my comment, it is Fusion GPS, of course, not GPS Fusion.
Fascinating, AT. No surprise, of course. When I voted, I did more than “hold my nose.”
Simply put, we have different thresholds when it comes to ethical and moral standards of our candidates. You feel, and correct me if I am wrong, that, basically, the ends justify the means and that Trump’s America First agenda (trade, tariffs, immigration policy, relaxing government regs, etc) outweigh his ethical, moral, and perhaps legal failings. Side note, I do find it perplexing, again, how you point out Biden’s alleged cashing in on China but Trump’s Russia ties fall into that hoax box … and, of course, you completely left out the Democratic coronavirus hoax thing too … that’s a reason to keep voting for Trump … not.
Anyways, as I have stated before, I supported William Weld’s fledgling attempt to challenge Trump in the Republican primary despite your concerns re his positions on trade, etc – we just disagree. I believe Weld’s ethical standards spoke for themselves and were paramount to me. Alas, not a chance for Weld to challenge and debate the president so it was a fleeting moment.
So, I had to decide how to cast my vote. You know that I voted Libertarian (Johnson/Weld) in 2016. As my Republican and Democratic friends noted then, actually some excoriated me then, I “wasted” my vote and somehow caused Trump’s election. Well, dagnabbit, given my choices this go round, I had to make a choice again, with ethics as my guiding principle … darn democracy.
Some will say I wasted my vote … again! Some will say, given my priorities of ethical standards and climate change, how could I vote for Jo Jorgensen? Well, that holding the nose thing reared it’s ugly … nose, Alan. I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t vote for Biden. We deserve better when it comes to ethics. Wish Weld would have made it onto the ballot, despite your misgivings.
Alan Tonelson said:
Thanks as always, Geno. However, I would reword your fourth sentence as follows: “Simply put, we have different thresholds when it comes to the tradeoffs and suboptimal choices that are bound to come up regularly in a less-than-Simon Pure world.” I.e., some ends will sometimes justify some means. Re the Trump Russia ties, years and years of government and journalistic investigations have turned up nothing substantial. With the Bidens in both Ukraine and China, after weeks at best of almost no systematic investigation of any kind, extensive documentation makes clear that an influence-peddling scheme was in operation. Also, no one in the Trump camp, including DJT himself, has ever called the CCP Virus itself a hoax of any kind. Re your vote for Weld, that’s your inalienable right, whatever I think of his platform.
Thanks AT. A couple of clarifications. I did not say that Trump referred to the virus itself as a hoax. As Trump’s exact words from the rally in South Carolina reflect, he was referring to the democrats criticism of his handling of the coronavirus as a hoax (btw, in my view, that was BS then and it remains BS now):
Here are Trump’s exact words on the topic at the South Carolina rally (pulled from a Snopes Fact-check):
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No they can’t. They can’t count their votes.
One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.
In context, Trump did not say in the passage above that the virus itself was a hoax. He instead said that Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to it was a hoax.”
Secondly, as to the Russia ties and “years of journalistic (and other) investigations have turned up nothing substantial.” Hmmm, beg to differ with you there too. Let me start with Paul Manafort. His ties to Russia before and during his stint as Trump Campaign Manager were … well, not ok. Also, let me add this link to a NPR interview with the former WSJ reporters who founded GPS Fusion, who share their insights on the so-called Steele Dossier, Trump’s connections with some not so nice people in Russia, etc.
In my view? The phrase “years and years of government and journalistic investigations have turned up nothing”? Uhhh, no, we disagree.
Alan Tonelson said:
Tbanks again, including for clarifying about the virus hoax point. As for the Russia hoax, if you’re going with GPS Fusion – whose work has proven to be a totally fake hatchet job – be my guest.
Yeah, and that Paul Manafort aspect was a hatchet job too, right? I don’t think so.
And, I offered the Fusion GPS interview, which you should listen to if you have not already, ‘cause it’s a fascinating hatchet job, and because you indicated that “years and years” of investigations have turned up “nothing.”
I can continue to go down the rabbit hole with examples of what has been found and then you will refute those and claim MSM witch hunt. Wastes both our time. We just disagree … As for that Manafort thing though, dang, we should ignore that investigation and conviction, right? 😳