After seven years of Barack Obama, the power of the president of the United States has expanded far beyond what was ever envisioned by the founding fathers. As was the case with Obama, it is dangerous to choose a president based solely on platitudes and personality. Finding out who these candidates really are in terms of not only policy positions but personal traits is critical. Fortunately, as this chaotic Republican primary season marches on, just who the remaining candidates are is coming into clearer focus.
The biggest enigma of all has been Donald Trump, as he has vaulted to the top of the Republican pyramid based on exploiting and tapping into the anger of a plurality of the primary voters to date. However, a picture has begun to emerge that indicates he is a closet statist with authoritarian tendencies.
Statism is the belief that the state should either control outright or determine the course of economic and social policy for a nation. Socialism and fascism are variants of statism. Some notable examples of American presidents that were proponents of this philosophy are Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama. In this election cycle both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are openly statist.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has, at times, attempted to present himself as a staunch conservative opposed to statist philosophies; however, there have been numerous occasions when his statist leanings come to the fore. Nonetheless, based on the entirety of his adult life (nearly fifty years) and many recent actions and pronouncements, Donald Trump seems to resemble a closet statist who believes the government should control and determine the course of commerce, finance, manufacturing, agriculture and the media.
In a recent speech in New Hampshire, Trump claimed he would control the pharmaceutical companies by setting drug prices; he would severely sanction (via taxes and tariffs) any American company that moves jobs overseas, thus forcing them to toe to his blueprint for them; and he would impose restrictions on oil and insurance companies that, in his view, restrict competition. On other occasions he has parroted Bernie Sanders in attacking and committing to oversee Wall Street through the power of taxation and regulation. He has often expressed his desire for government controlled and financed health care. He is fine with, and has used, the coercive government power of eminent domain to benefit his bottom line and to intimidate his business adversaries.
In keeping with this predilection for statism, Trump has said he would unilaterally act and issue executive orders if Congress did not act on a matter he thought serious -- but that he would issue much better ones than Barack Obama. The day after the Houston Republican Debate, Trump announced that he would change the libel laws, and thus the Constitution, so he can sue those who say things he doesn't like. This reflects his inner desire to exert control over the media and society. Despite his protestations to the contrary and never-ending vacillations on issues and policies, there is little difference between Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
However, unlike the Democratic Party contenders, when these beliefs are combined with someone with a clinical case of narcissism, whose entire life has been totally centered upon promoting himself, and who now acts as if he is preordained to be elected president, the potential danger to the country becomes profound. In every interview the conversation invariably evolves into being about him and how great he is. He has never to my knowledge been able to accept any criticism with grace and dignity; rather he has invariably lashed out with either crude personal attacks or threatening and often pursuing legal, personal or financial intimidation. He cannot accept failure; instead it is always the fault of others. He revels in and expects adulation befitting a cult leader and he seems to do or say anything to not only foster this status but to win at all costs.
While not directly comparing Donald Trump to the despots of the past century, anyone with these character attributes who also believes in statism cannot be trusted with the fate of the nation in his hands.
In today's America the power of the presidency has expanded by geometric proportions. Anyone that assumes the office has the IRS, the EPA, The Justice Department, Homeland Security and NSA, among other agencies at his or her disposal, to intimidate and control the citizenry. The United States already has fallen to a ranking of a dismal 31st among all the nations of the world in personal freedom. It could be an unmitigated to disaster to turn over control of the government to someone with Trump's tendencies. Further, when Obama exits the scene, he will leave America's relationship with the rest of the world in shambles. Trump does not have the temperament to deal with these issues without his ego intervening and making matters worse.
However, there is an alternative to Donald Trump: Ted Cruz -- a true constitutional conservative. Ted Cruz by temperament, experience and accomplishments is well qualified to be the next president. This nation is at the point of no return and in order to avoid the abyss over the horizon it must reverse course by returning to the basis of its founding: individual liberty, opportunity and limited government as expounded in the Constitution. Ted Cruz, as Rush Limbaugh has pointed out, is the closest candidate to Ronald Reagan we will see in our lifetime and in my opinion the best candidate to oversee this course correction.
Unlike previous election cycles the American people do not have to settle for the least of two evils in choosing a Republican nominee. There is a stark difference between Trump and Cruz. Will be it statism and megalomania or a return to individual freedom and opportunity?