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.