article by a small business owner is the best I have seen in a while about the
reality we face as a country.)
Since I consider
myself a traditional conservative, many friends of mine, on both the Right and
the Left, are puzzled by my unwavering support for Donald Trump.
bewilderment is understandable. Trump is often rude and obnoxious. His demeanor
can be arrogant and dismissive. At times, he comports himself as reckless and
willing to lash out prematurely, prior to fully understanding all of the facts
at hand. To put it simply, he is a “wrecking ball.”
Trump isn’t even a pure conservative in terms of policy; he is a populist. His
statements over the years regarding such areas as limited government, religious
liberty, states’ rights, and abortion have been inconsistent at best, and in
some cases, have steered firmly to the left.
Still, given all
of this baggage, I have my feet planted firmly in Camp Trump. But why? How can
a principled, pragmatic, deliberate conservative be drawn to such a candidate? It is because I believe
conservatism doesn’t stand a chance in this country without first delivering a
very heavy dose of populism.
Populism, at least Trump’s version of it, is a platform
built largely on the principle of economic nationalism. It focuses on three
primary policy areas: trade, defense, and immigration.
description of the problem for each is very clear: 1) our trade policy has
decimated our manufacturing base, leaving millions of Americans economically
stranded; 2) our defense policy has engaged us in conflicts around the globe
that in many cases have actually made the United States less secure, and have
added considerably to our bloated national debt; and 3) in 1986, Ronald Reagan
granted amnesty to approximately 3 million illegal immigrants, on the condition
that our borders would be secured and illegal immigration would be dramatically
curtailed. Since that time, at
least 11 million (and likely many more) illegal aliens have entered the United
States, effectively suppressing wages for many working Americans, and adding
tremendously to the cost of our education and public assistance programs.
our nation’s founding, the principle of national sovereignty has been the
preeminent and driving force for what it means to be an American conservative.
positions on these areas alone define him as an unabashed conservative? No. As
enumerated above, several other categories need to be added when determining
whether an individual is decidedly conservative or liberal. But are Trump’s
positions on trade, defense, and immigration not conservative? Absolutely
His stance on
these issues, when taken together, represent the most important plank in the
history of American conservatism. That is the vital importance, and in fact
primacy, of national sovereignty. In fact, since our nation’s founding, the
principle of national sovereignty has been the preeminent and driving force for
what it means to be an American conservative.
is the position that as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all” we are not only entitled but obligated to define and protect
our own country, our own principles, and our own culture, independent of those
nations and societies that claim the same rights and obligations.
is where this author believes the battle line needs to be drawn within the
Republican Party: between those true conservatives who consider national
sovereignty preeminent, and those who profess to be conservative, only to
advance their own ideological or avaricious priorities.
Stop Tarring Us
for ‘Isolationism,’ ‘Protectionism,’ and ‘Nativism’
has done a better job of articulating the schizophrenic dilemma the Republican
Party finds itself in today than Pat Buchanan. In fact, it was Pat, who, when
running for president himself in ’92 and 2000, accurately predicted what we are
facing today. He summed up perfectly the forces that have driven America into
its current state of hopelessness when he described the culprits as “two wings
on the same bird of prey,” that being the established power structures of both
the Republican and Democratic parties.
We have spent trillions of dollars and lost
thousands of American lives in foreign conflicts that have done little in
securing order and peace.
reminded us that, on more than one occasion, Bush 43 emphatically denounced the
populist platform long before Trump’s candidacy. Bush defined populist
positions on defense, trade, and immigration as “isolationist,”
“protectionist,” and “nativist,” respectively. In 1991, shortly after the Gulf
War, his father, George H. W. Bush, proudly announced to the entire world that
we were entering a “new world order” (Bush’s words, not mine).
Since that time, under two Republican and two Democrat
administrations, Americans have witnessed the following:
1) In the name of national defense and America’s obligation
to lead the free world, we have spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands
of American lives in foreign conflicts that have done little in securing order
and peace, particularly in the Middle East. In fact, our intervention in places
like Iraq and Libya has done a great deal to foster chaos, and create avenues
through which malicious regimes and terrorist groups continue to grow and
In an effort to revive Woodrow Wilson’s mission to
“democratize the world,” we have taken the presumptive and arrogant position
that the United States has the right to dictate the political make-up of
cultures and countries different than our own. We are doing all of this with
money the country doesn’t have, and largely at the behest of other nations that
refuse to participate, financially or otherwise. Americans of nearly every
political and philosophical persuasion have come to realize what a misguided
policy this has been.
Is this really a
position of “isolationism,” or one of simple common sense?
2) In the name of free trade, since Bush 41 both parties
have worked closely together to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement,
establish the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade II, form the World Trade
Organization, and grant Communist China most favored nation status in trade.
What has this gotten us? Well, since 1991, our accumulated trade deficit
approaches $12 trillion! Tens of thousands of manufacturing plants have closed,
and millions of American jobs have been sacrificed for the sake of globalism.
Now establishment Republicans and Democrats are locking arms once again to
promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The overwhelming majority of Americans
understand that what truly lacks compassion is when a society attempts to
absorb people it cannot properly and effectively assimilate in a fair and just
tells us Trump’s position would incite a trade war. Really? Since ‘91, our
trade deficit with China alone exceeds $4 trillion, and he’s afraid of a trade
war? Can he not see that we have been in the middle of a trade war for decades,
but one we simply choose not to fight? It’s clear by now that fair-minded
Americans on both sides of the aisle understand you can’t have true free trade
without true fair trade.
Is this really a
position of “protectionism,” or one of simple common sense?
3) In the name of compassion and human rights, today, our
southern border has become a piece of Swiss cheese. The argument to secure our
borders and deport, at least temporarily, those who are here illegally, stems
from the simple fact that we are a nation of laws, which, everyone is required
to abide by.
Bushes 41 and
43, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama would all consider this position as lacking
in compassion. But the overwhelming majority of Americans understand that what
truly lacks compassion is when a society attempts to absorb a group or groups
of people it cannot properly and effectively assimilate in a fair and just
manner. They realize, among other things, that when we fail to address this issue
firmly, we are helping to drive down wages for hard-working Americans; we are
further stressing our overworked public education system; and we are taxing our
public assistance programs to an extent that our local, state, and federal
governments are increasingly less capable of addressing.
establishment Republican and Democrat leaders are unwilling to strictly enforce
laws related to those people who are here illegally, on what grounds do they
claim authority to enforce laws pertaining to this country’s legal citizens?
Is this really a
position of “nativism,” or one of simple common sense?
these three critical areas, the Bush and Romney camps have not only disavowed
the core basis for conservative thinking, they have also turned their backs on
American sovereignty and the American middle class. They are not conservative
leaders, they are false prophets.
cartoonist Walt Kelly, in the comic strip Pogo, paraphrased a quote of some
historical significance with the line: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” No better description could be
applied to the power base of the Republican Party. The party has long been
dominated by two closely aligned factions that represent little affiliation
with conservative principle or patriotic zeal: the Chamber of Commerce
coalition, and the neoconservative crusaders.
The party has long been dominated by two factions little
affiliated with conservative principle or patriotic zeal: the Chamber of
Commerce coalition, and the neoconservative crusaders.
By its very
title, it should surprise no one that the Chamber of Commerce lobby places as
its top priority the almighty bottom line and corporate profits. Thomas
Jefferson said it best when he declared: “The merchant has no country.” This
was not an indictment against free enterprise or the aspiration of individuals
to prosper and grow rich. It simply recognized the immutable fact that business
decisions are driven chiefly by the principle of profit maximization, and that
a business enterprise will always follow this maxim, whether it is realized in
China, Mexico, or the United States.
transnational corporations and big business and financial concerns have
profited greatly through foreign production and financial multilateralism,
while America’s manufacturing base has been pulverized and the American middle
class has been punished. A populist message that threatens to renegotiate trade
deals and treaties and bring production and jobs back to the United States
absolutely terrifies the big business boys. They will go to any lengths to
ensure this does not take place.
As for the
neocons, their position is just as self-serving. The neoconservative movement
began primarily with a group of leftist ex-Trotskyites, who comfortably made
their home in the Democratic Party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the ’30s.
Their foreign policy adamantly opposed the imperialistic adventures of Russia’s
Joseph Stalin, while their domestic policies remained firmly progressive.
In the late ’60s
they began moving to the Republican Party, when the anti-war messages of Gene
McCarthy and George McGovern compelled them to align with the party that was
more in line with their pro-intervention position. The transition was
effectively complete by the end of the Carter administration, when the vast
majority of neocons made the Republican Party their permanent home.
Neocons are practically single-handedly responsible for the mess
in which we find ourselves today in the Middle East.
This group of
political gypsies has always placed limited emphasis on domestic policy. Their
primary mission in recent decades has essentially been to define and direct
America’s leading role in the “new order” that Bush 41 ushered in, back in ’91.
Importantly, by that time the Soviet empire was on its way out. They then
turned their sights on the Middle East. They are practically single-handedly
responsible for the mess in which we find ourselves today in that part of the
The idea that a
populist candidate would offer up a more pragmatic and limited interventionist
foreign policy terrifies them, as well. Just like the big business boys, they
will go to any lengths to ensure this does not take place.
factions, by far the most influential and powerful in the Republican Party, are
not only responsible for subverting the traditional conservative underpinnings
of the party, they are endangering the future viability of the party
altogether. The story becomes even more sordid when you consider how closely
linked the two groups are in terms of defense spending and military
intervention. Can you say “military-industrial complex”?
Slippery Road Ahead
Some might think
such an impassioned show of support for Trump populism would be accompanied by
a commensurate level of hope and optimism. Sadly, I cannot offer that. Until
recently I actually thought Trump would have a much easier time winning the
general election than the Republican nomination. I felt the Republican
establishment would do anything, including try to force a brokered convention,
to stop him. But if he
could somehow find a way to get over this giant hurdle, his populist message of
fair trade and limited military intervention would woo enough Independents and
blue-collar Democrats to take him over the hill against Hill.
is no doubt that these establishment turncoats will pull out all the stops to
ensure that Hillary Clinton becomes the forty-fifth president of the United
But now that we see how incredibly pernicious the
Republican attacks on Trump have become, there is no doubt that these
establishment turncoats will pull out all the stops to ensure that Hillary
Clinton becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States. This is
because, contrary to her campaign rhetoric, she has demonstrated time and
again, through action and deed, she stands tall with the Chamber of Commerce
clan on trade policy, and stands even more firmly with the neocons on foreign
unholy alliance is solidified through the promotion of a faux third-party
candidate, or an even more devious form of subterfuge and attack, remains to be
seen. One thing is for sure, though: Trump would have to defy all odds to
emerge the winner.
But this is why
conservative support for Trump is more important than ever. If the center or
establishment wings of the two parties come together as a result of Trump’s
candidacy, and Trump gets trounced, this will undoubtedly result in a tectonic
shift in party politics. The likely outcome will be the formation of a populist
party, which will find a home either under the Republican banner or a separate,
Either way, the
Republican Party, as it was once known, will cease to exist. This is where it
gets really interesting. In such a scenario, the driving force of this populist
movement will either be fundamentally conservative (Trump supporters) or
progressive (Sanders supporters). The internal battles will be ugly and brutal,
and the only glue to keep these otherwise opposing groups together will be
their unified policies on trade, defense, and immigration.
As the fight for
this new party identity wages on, it will require a significant number of
informed and principled conservatives to lead the charge for the A Team.
Still—Donald Trump, Really?
When I measure
Trump against someone like Ted Cruz, I have to admit I’m a little torn. Cruz is
a true constitutionalist, a rare politician who understands very well that our
nation was founded by a courageous set of traditional conservatives like
Washington, Adams, and Hamilton, and an equally brilliant group of classical
liberals, such as Jefferson and Franklin. It was the oftentimes contentious and
combative debates between the two factions that gave us the remarkable
framework for government that we call our Constitution and the Bill Of Rights.
If we consider Cruz’s position prior to the
campaign, he has been far more allied to the neoconservative platform.
Cruz is a
conservative, and an incredibly talented constitutional lawyer. I respect and
admire his courage to take a sound and principled message to the American
electorate. Unfortunately, I think his positions, specifically on trade and
defense, are suspect. He has denounced TPP, but his decision wavered until he
fully realized which direction the wind was blowing with the base.
He has also
stated he is opposed to “regime change,” giving him lots of wiggle room in
terms of military intervention. In fact, if we consider his position prior to
the campaign, he has been far more allied to the neoconservative platform. In
both of these areas, he has demonstrated a relatively shaky position, at least
in comparison to Trump.
So, although I
have serious questions regarding Trump’s position on a number of issues, I
believe his core populist platform is the soundest and surest way for America
to begin rebuilding her neglected middle class and restoring her sovereignty.
Without these two imperatives in place, a true conservative message doesn’t
stand a chance, as more and more Americans today, particularly young voters,
are lured into a solidly entrenched progressive philosophy.
in every age, is composed of some combination of the haves and the have-nots.
It is the primary objective of any civilized and compassionate culture to
maximize the former and minimize the latter. A free and democratic nation is
doomed when the have-nots become the majority.
A free and democratic nation is doomed when the have-nots become
This is because
those whom the majority brings to power in the name of progressivism will
always work to “rob Peter, to pay Paul.” Then the downward spiral of socialism
begins. As history has shown us time and again, it is destined to meet a tragic
end. As Margaret Thatcher said: “Socialism is just fine…until you run out of
other people’s money.”
America is at a very dangerous tipping point.
Due in equal measure to both progressive and globalist policies, the have-nots
are quickly outnumbering the haves. If the scales are not rebalanced in a very
short period of time, we’re in big trouble.
With all of its faults, America is still the
most generous nation in the history of mankind. For over a century she has been
the engine through which so many other countries around the world have been
saved, both economically and militarily. Through sound guidance and by example,
she has proudly and effectively promoted the principles of free enterprise, and
demonstrated the prosperous results of market-based economics.
But, over the last 25 years in particular, in
the name of globalism and the establishment of a new world order, the cost of
America’s generosity and influence has been placed squarely on the back of the
American taxpayer, and it has had a devastating effect on the backbone of our
society—the American middle class. America will always remain a loyal ally and
a defender of freedom, and a fair and proactive international trading partner.
She will always open her arms wide to a healthy and legitimate process of immigration.
But she can no longer afford, financially or philosophically, to be the world’s
disproportionate benefactor. Our political leaders need to take a stand.
Sadly, but resolutely, I believe we need to
take a “wrecking ball” to American politics today. That ball has to be in the
form of a candidate who is willing to do whatever is necessary to bring our
middle class back to the “family of haves” and restore our country’s sense of
independence and sovereignty. I believe Donald Trump is the most qualified to
lead this movement and to begin returning America to all Americans.
Timm Amundson is a small business owner and conservative
polemicist from Chicago, Illinois.