Why I’ve Changed My Mind On Trump

 

Early on, I was a bit seduced by Donald Trump, mostly because he has exquisite taste in enemies and because my political instincts incline me toward populist upstarts and against arrogant establishments. In the early 1990s, for example, I was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Reform Party of Canada. At the time, the Canadian political establishment was at its most corrupt, arrogant, and insular and the Reform Party was the right antidote.

So when the incompetent GOP establishment went ballistic against the real estate mogul, I naturally felt sympathetic toward him. My sympathy, moreover, seemed validated by how ham-fisted the attacks against him turned out to be. But while today’s American political establishment is equally corrupt, arrogant, and insular as the one Manning toppled two decades ago, Donald Trump is not the answer Americans should be seeking. Donald Trump, you are no Preston Manning.

The moment when serious doubts about Trump’s competence first entered my head was over a seemingly minor point. Railing against unfair trade from the Far East in a speech last December, Trump lumped China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea all together. So let me get this straight Donald: you want to start a confrontation with China and you want to push Japan onto China’s side? Apparently so.

How important is the alliance with Japan for America? Let me put it like this: In 2014, China produced almost 24 million cars. The US came in second at 12 million, with Japan at third at 9.3 million, and South Korea at fifth at 4.5 million. Since the American Civil War, the US has enjoyed an overwhelming material advantage over its adversaries through it manufacturing might. With Japan and South Korea at America’s side, it still holds that advantage. But if Blunderbuss Trump thoughtlessly alienates these allies, leaving the United States to fend against China in a hypothetical one-on-one Pacific War, America could find itself outgunned.

And then I realized — like I was shot with a diamond bullet — that there is no “there” there. Trump has no ideas, no philosophy, and no governing principles. He is little more than a salesman selling himself. He is a hollow man, a stuffed man, headpiece filled with straw.

Not only doesn’t he know much, he doesn’t care to find out, which is much worse to my mind. Read this article from Spengler about how Trump doesn’t read. (“What I noticed immediately in my first visit was that there were no books,” says D’Antonio. “A huge palace and not a single book.”) If somebody like this were to run the foreign policy of the world’s most powerful country, it would be an unmitigated disaster. In a narcissistic fit, he may start World War III without a clue as to what to do after it begins. Only then will it dawn on him that not everything in the world is a transactional deal.

Once I realized this, other examples became evident. There are Trump’s extensive ties with top Democrats, like Senator Harry Reid and the Clinton family, as well as establishment Republican figures like Senator Mitch McConnell. There is also his (very recent) past support of left-wing causes, including illegal immigration. Most tastelessly, he has personally attacked conservatives who have been fighting the good fight for a lot longer than Donald Trump has, and with much fewer resources. Take his disgraceful feud with Michelle Malkin. Donald, Michelle was pulling her weight back when you were cutting checks to Anthony Weiner and employing illegal aliens.

Of course, people can change. Roger L. Simon, David Horowitz, and Whittaker Chambers all came to the Right from from the hard Left and even Ronald Reagan used to be a Democrat. Normally though, when somebody has had a genuine change of heart, it only comes after a protracted inner struggle — often detailed in their writings — or as the result of some dramatic event, like the way that the death of Betty van Patter changed David Horowitz. It has been said that converts make the best zealots. The reason why is because their soul-searching has given them an in-depth understanding of the issues. Absent a dramatic turn of events, or an eloquent ability to explain basic principles, it is entirely appropriate to doubt the sincerity of the convert. Particularly, if the timing is convenient.

But what about Mexican immigration and Trump’s promise to build The Wall? Look, when it comes to building a wall to secure the southern border, rounding up illegal aliens the way Dwight Eisenhower did with Operation Wetback (its actual name), instituting exit controls to monitor visa overstays, and cutting back legal immigration to manageable levels, I am on your side. One hundred percent. But here’s a newsflash for you: Trump isn’t going to do any of this. He’s just shining you.

How do I know this?

One of the best ways to divine a man’s true intentions is to examine his past actions, particularly under stress; i.e. does he favour the hard right over the easy wrong? One of the reasons I think Senator Ted Cruz is a rare sincere politician was his opposition to ethanol subsidies during the Iowa Caucus. Iowa was a must-win state for Cruz, but Cruz didn’t budge on the issue and wasn’t silent about it either. Watch his confrontation with an Iowa farmer angry over the ethanol issue; Cruz’s ability to win him over is one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen. In contrast, Trump embraced ethanol subsidies with gusto.

Suffice it to say, there is no comparable instance where Trump took an unpopular position that was personally disadvantageous to him. He was for Senator Chuck Schumer and the New York Democrats because he needed to please them to run his pay-to-play empire. Then, he adopted Republican principles when he saw a better opportunity in the GOP. And he saw immigration opposition as the untapped issue to exploit (though I credit him for seeing that opportunity before anybody else).

I predict Trump will continue to oppose immigration in order to win the nomination, but will soften his stance if he makes it to the general election. Should he make it to the White House, he will do what he has always done: cut a deal with the likes of Schumer and McConnell. And all those Trump supporters who think he is being sincere? You are his saps, just like those unfortunate students who were duped by Trump University.

There is an old adage that if you look around the card table and don’t see who the mark is, you’re the mark.

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  1. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Every word like a dagger of Truth into the heart of Trumpism. But those who are too blind to see, won’t.

    • #1
  2. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    I think your take on Trump is spot on. (And as a former Canadian, I share your appreciation of Preston Manning and the Reform Party.)

    • #2
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Has the US media done any follow-up on what Trump reads as was done following Katie Couric’s interview of Sarah Palin?

    • #3
  4. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Canadian Cincinnatus: Not only doesn’t he know, he doesn’t care to find out – which is much worse. Read this article from Spengler about how Trump doesn’t read. (‘”What I noticed immediately in my first visit was that there were no books,” says D’Antonio. “A huge palace and not a single book.”’) If somebody like this were to run the foreign policy of the world’s most powerful country, it would be an unmitigated disaster. In a narcissistic fit, he may start World War III. And then not have a clue about what to do after it begins. Only then will it dawn on him that not everything in the world is a transactional deal.

    One of my coworkers said it best: Trump is the sort of person who reads Drudge every day but never clicks any of the links.

    • #4
  5. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I knew about Japan and China of course, but Taiwan and South Korea are our enemies, too?

    • #5
  6. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Canadian Cincinnatus: And then I realized, like I was shot with a diamond bullet, that there is no there there. Trump has no ideas, he has no philosophy, he has no governing principles. He is little more than a salesman selling himself. He is a hollow man, a stuffed man, headpiece filled with straw.

    This was my realization also.

    • #6
  7. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Great post, this especially:

    Canadian Cincinnatus:

    I predict Trump will continue to oppose immigration in order to win the nomination, but will soften his stance if he makes it to the general election. Should he make it to the White House, he will do what he has always done: cut a deal with the likes of Schumer and McConnell. And all those Trump supporters who think he is being sincere? You are his saps, just like those unfortunate students who were duped by Trump University.

    • #7
  8. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson
    @DanHanson

    Great post!

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    The Reform Party was never just about Preston Manning. It was a political organization led by a whole group of political intellectuals. There was a brain trust of PhDs and MAs leading that herd.

    • #9
  10. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Canadian Cincinnatus:

    Operation Wetback (its actual name)

    Why is it that no one ever talks about the frostbacks who come over our virtually unprotected northern border?

    • #10
  11. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Man With the Axe:

    Canadian Cincinnatus:

    Operation Wetback (its actual name)

    Why is it that no one ever talks about the frostbacks who come over our virtually unprotected northern border?

    Because they do the Hollywood comedy jobs that Americans won’t do.

    • #11
  12. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Was this post lifted from National Review?  I may have to reread Stopa’s again today…

    • #12
  13. Wolverine Inactive
    Wolverine
    @Wolverine

    I am starting to have my doubts about Trump as well and share the concerns of the OP. For me his Washington Post interview was eye opening. It is clear that he has not thought about issues with any depth. However, I am stuck as I think Cruz is an ambitious politician with no fixed principles. I know that may be unpopular but I think he shifts with the wind and it concerns me that many who know him can’t stand him. My problem is that I am an immigration restrictionist who opposes further military adventures, and am tired of timid Republican responses to hostile media. There is no candidate for me to turn to if I reject Trump. Tom Cotton? Starting to hope for a brokered convention.

    • #13
  14. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    It isn’t merely that Donald Trump has the correct enemies on the Left – he has all the wrong enemies (and quite a long list of bad friends and admirers) on the right.

    Having Patrick J. Buchanan’s endorsement hovering over your campaign is like the pallor of death – precisely because it brings with it a lot of dead-end ideologies such as “isolationism” and various other paleo ideals that are best left in the past.

    Sympathy for those voices on the right is a much bigger warning sign than any positive feedback you may receive from being condemned by the New York Times – which is de rigeur for Conservatives and Republicans anyways.

    • #14
  15. Big Ern Inactive
    Big Ern
    @BigErn

    Outstanding, OP. Thank you.

    • #15
  16. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Very well done post CC. No name calling, just sincere and well reasoned thoughts about your misgivings for Trump…as well as your appreciation for Ted Cruz. This is what I expect when I click on Ricochet.

    I will say in response to a couple of points that 1) your distrust of Trump’s illegal immigration position is an assumption that isn’t at this point verifiable. It is possible that he will do exactly as he says, even to the point of getting Mexico to pay for a wall. The Mexican citizens enjoying our American economy illegally, God bless them, are often here to assist their families. As such they send approximately 50 Billion US dollars back to Mexico annually. This is called “remittances”. I’ve read it is the second largest revenue producer in their economy. A small fee of say 10% could indeed pay for that wall.

    2) As far as Japan is concerned, when I was in business it was a well known fact that Kohler would not allow its distributors to handle Toto (Japanese, not Kansan) products. Why? Because while the USA was perfectly agreeable to the Japanese bringing Toto here, Kohler was NOT allowed to open distribution in Japan. I believe our automobile companies suffer much the same fate.

    Is that what you would call fair and equal trade between allies?

    • #16
  17. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Trump does say some extreme things, like a 45% tariff on the Chinese. But he is a negotiator by trade. As opposed to our politicians, a businessman doesn’t negotiate by showing his bottom line before the conversation starts. I used to call that, in sales, unbuckling one’s belt and dropping trousers before even knocking on the customers door.

    • #17
  18. GirlWithAPearl Inactive
    GirlWithAPearl
    @GirlWithAPearl

    Thanks, Canadian. My hat is off to you, and to others in this thread who are brave enough to discuss rejecting Trumpism for good and careful reasons. May you be a light for many others!

    • #18
  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    cdor: Trump does say some extreme things, like a 45% tariff on the Chinese. But he is a negotiator by trade. As opposed to our politicians, a businessman doesn’t negotiate by showing his bottom line before the conversation starts.

    Right, Mr. Trump has said this himself.  Let’s just hope the Chinese don’t find this out, because it ruins the effectiveness of the ruse if your opponent knows you are bluffing.

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    screenshot.1

    • #20
  21. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Wolverine:I am starting to have my doubts about Trump as well and share the concerns of the OP. For me his Washington Post interview was eye opening. It is clear that he has not thought about issues with any depth. However, I am stuck as I think Cruz is an ambitious politician with no fixed principles. I know that may be unpopular but I think he shifts with the wind and it concerns me that many who know him can’t stand him. My problem is that I am an immigration restrictionist who opposes further military adventures, and am tired of timid Republican responses to hostile media. There is no candidate for me to turn to if I reject Trump. Tom Cotton? Starting to hope for a brokered convention.

    I have shared many of your misgivings about Cruz, but I realistically think he is not that bad. He shifts around a bit within the spectrum of conservatism, but he has never as far as I know taken a truly left of center position.  That Jay Nordlinger considers him a friend is a definite recommendation in my book.  And the fact that people like Lindsey Graham, who are known to dislike him personally, nevertheless back the man as a candidate has done much to alleviate my concerns about his personal “dislikability.”  Lindsey Graham has been actively fundraising for the guy.

    At any rate, he is the choice we have left, and it is incumbent on all of us to throw as much support behind him as we can muster if we want someone other than Trump to end up as our candidate.

    • #21
  22. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Canadian Cincinnatus: So let me get this straight Donald: you want to start a confrontation with China and you want to push Japan onto China’s side?

    Let me make sure you have it straight:  Donald Trump is not smart enough about international trade policy to have thought that far ahead.

    • #22
  23. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    There was never a time in Trump’s entire public existence of endless self aggrandizing toxic narcissism that he impressed me in the slightest.

    I avoid everything with his name on it and I still believe the principle reason he is running a self funding campaign is to avoid publicly disclosing how little of his inheritance remains after his disastrous career in ego-fulfillment “busyness”.

    • #23
  24. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I agree with the others, it’s a great post.  If Trump falls one vote short of the 1237, he should be denied the nomination.  There will be chaos with him on the ticket and there will be chaos without.  We might as well go without.

    • #24
  25. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    But if Blunderbuss Trump thoughtlessly alienates these allies, leaving the United States to fend against China in a hypothetical one-on-one Pacific War, America could find itself outgunned.

    Except the US has no reason at all to ever think of going to war against China, except for our now-idiotic promise to defend one set of competitors against another.

    I suggest we give up on the witless globalism of the political class, and worry about the problems of the actual United States.

    Crazy talk, I know.

    • #25
  26. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Majestyk:It isn’t merely that Donald Trump has the correct enemies on the Left – he has all the wrong enemies (and quite a long list of bad friends and admirers) on the right.

    Having Patrick J. Buchanan’s endorsement hovering over your campaign is like the pallor of death – precisely because it brings with it a lot of dead-end ideologies such as “isolationism” and various other paleo ideals that are best left in the past.

    Sympathy for those voices on the right is a much bigger warning sign than any positive feedback you may receive from being condemned by the New York Times – which is de rigeur for Conservatives and Republicans anyways.

    Interesting book review in the WSJ this morning.

    (Are you all recovered? :)

    • #26
  27. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Welcome back.

    In AA, there is a saying that “we don’t shoot our wounded”, which means that when an alcoholic slips off of the wagon, and then returns to AA, we are happy to see him or her, and are not judgmental as to their lapse.

    You supported Trump for what appeared to you to be good reasons.  But you kept your eyes open and realized that you had made a mistake.  Welcome back.

    • #27
  28. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Great post, this especially:

    Canadian Cincinnatus:

    I predict Trump will continue to oppose immigration in order to win the nomination, but will soften his stance if he makes it to the general election. Should he make it to the White House, he will do what he has always done: cut a deal with the likes of Schumer and McConnell. And all those Trump supporters who think he is being sincere? You are his saps, just like those unfortunate students who were duped by Trump University.

    I do think the above is something that most if not all Ricochetti will agree on.

    And my contention is that even the above result is still infinitely preferable to another corrupt Clinton administration.

    • #28
  29. J. Martin Hanks Member
    J. Martin Hanks
    @JMartinHanks

    #neverHillary trumps #neverTrump for me.

    I just don’t think Trump will be the end of the world as we know it like the media, Dems, and establishment Repubs are working so feverishly to make us believe.  I never trust this level of hysteria.  The sky isn’t falling, and I believe Hillary would be far worse than anything Trump can screw up.

    (For the record, I voted Cruz in my state’s primary – if that matters to anyone.)

    • #29
  30. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    J. Martin Hanks:#neverHillary trumps #neverTrump for me.

    I just don’t think Trump will be the end of the world as we know it like the media, Dems, and establishment R’s are working feverishly to make us believe.

    (For the record, I voted Cruz in my state’s primary.)

    #neverHillary trumps #neverTrump for me.

    This!^

    • #30

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