Trump’s First 100 Days: A Libertarian View

Donald Trump has completed 100 days in office.  For some reason, the first 100 days has been a common measure in recent times for grading the president.  It is just a nice round number.  We could just as easily look at 3 months, or 6 months, or 101 days.  The presidency of Trump continues.

The way things have gone with Trump, maybe 100 days really is a good marker though.  If I had to grade Trump after 20 days in office, I would have given him pretty decent marks, even though there are many issues where I diverge with his views.

Trump’s first couple of weeks in office consisted of him passing executive orders, repealing executive orders, fighting with the media, and fighting with the government spy agencies.

In terms of executive orders, they are obviously not looked upon positively by libertarians.  But when an executive order is issued to repeal a previous executive order, or even to repeal some unconstitutional edict by a bureaucracy (which is almost all of them), then it has merit because it never should have been a law in the first place.

Something happened around March/ early April to Trump’s whole presidency.  Perhaps nothing actually changed other than what became apparent to anyone paying attention in the general public.

The first big problem with Trump is his alignment with Paul Ryan on Ryan’s healthcare bill.  It failed to replace Obamacare in full, and it was mostly a disaster from the perspective of an advocate for free markets.  Luckily, enough Republicans in the House opposed the legislation, and it failed.

Then Trump made things worse by threatening and going into battle against the Freedom Caucus.  Instead of figuring out what would make them (and their constituents) happy, he instead essentially said that we could knock these Republicans out in primaries in the next election.  These are the few people in Congress who actually defend free markets to a certain extent and Trump is going into battle with them.

Then came the disaster of Syria.  When it was alleged that Assad’s government killed innocent people with chemical weapons, Trump wasted no time in talking about the “beautiful babies” and started lobbing missiles in Syria.  For the record, Trump also talks about beautiful pieces of chocolate cake, and not just babies, so it is hard to know how much the word “beautiful” means to him.

There was absolutely no proof that it was Assad that released chemical weapons.  If anybody did, it was likely Assad’s enemies.  Trump threw all reasoning out the window.  He also repudiated almost everything he had said in the past, especially when Assad was accused of the same thing several years ago.

And who knows now with North Korea.  By the time you read this, Trump may have started an all-out war in North Korea.  The dictator of North Korea is launching bottle rockets while Trump and the rest of the war establishment is talking about the country as a great threat to the United States.  If it is anything more than bottle rockets, then it is South Korea that should be worried.  Of course, since the Washington establishment is safely thousands of miles away, they aren’t too concerned about what happens on the Korean peninsula, as long as the war lobby is made happy.

I don’t know what happened to Trump, but he has turned into a complete disaster.  He is especially bad right now on foreign policy, which was the one small glimmer of hope for libertarians with his presidency.  The war hawks have taken control, and Trump has ceded his power to them.

Was Trump warned that if he didn’t start going along with things that he would end up with a similar fate to JFK?  Or was it something similar but a little more subtle?

Of course, Trump is going against almost everything he said in the campaign now.  He can still have his fights with the establishment media, but it doesn’t mean much now.  He is not likely to repeal Obamacare.  He is not likely to intervene less in foreign countries.  He is not going to take on the Federal Reserve.  He is probably mostly done fighting with the spy agencies.

Even in the areas where I strongly disagreed with Trump in his campaign, he will still fail.  He is not likely to get a wall along the Mexican border, let alone actually getting Mexico to pay for it.  Hopefully he will not get new tariffs, or they at least won’t be as big as he first hinted.

I didn’t vote for Trump, but I supported some of what he said.  I like his fighting with the media, and I liked his political incorrectness.  But I knew he was very short on principles.

Trump has betrayed his base, whether they know it or not.  He is not draining the swamp.  He has joined the swamp.

For libertarians, there is a major lesson to be learned here.  We shouldn’t hope for political change by electing the “right people” into office.  Political change is only likely to come through decentralization, increasing technology, and changes in public opinion.  Marijuana will be mostly legal within a decade, but it didn’t happen because any politician in Washington DC decided to make it so.

Of course, all Americans should take away this lesson about the futility of presidential elections, but I think libertarians are the only ones who will learn anything if anything is learned at all.

In order for anyone to have in impact in Washington DC, that person has to be honest, principled, and knowledgeable.  It is a very rare person indeed.  Ron Paul is the closest we have seen, but he didn’t have the personality to be elected, and there weren’t enough Americans who fully bought into his message.  (By the way, I love Ron Paul’s personality, but to be elected president I think you have to be more vicious.)

There are some people who go into politics who intend to make changes for the better.  But most of these people are corrupted if and when they get to Washington DC.  They can’t resist the pressure.  They are absorbed by the swamp.

It is made worse in the fact that most of these people do not have a firm grasp of the issues and firm principles going into it.  If you believe in the non-aggression principle or something similar to it, then it makes it easier to stand your ground.    You have no use for “revenue neutral tax cuts” because taxation is theft to you.

For the politician who just made it to DC who believes that taxation is a little too high and that we need to cut taxes for better economic growth, it will just be a matter of time before that person is selling the few principles he had down the river.  He will listen to the media. He will listen to the lobbyists.  He will soon be “compromising”.  In other words, he will be selling out.

We should not count on any one person to bring us liberty, especially through political office.  It will inevitably be a disappointment.  We will gain liberty by changing the hearts and minds of the general populace.  We will gain liberty as technology replaces the so-called necessary government functions in society.

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