The Parable of the Primary
The strong lineup among Republican presidential contenders and the media—and voter—fascination with Donald Trump is reminding me a little of the joke/parable of the man caught in a flood.
“Lord, why did you not send us a good candidate to save us? We cried and complained from the rooftops for one! We had to put our backing behind a Democrat with a big mouth and a helicopter!”
I sent you a quiet fighter who in a blue state overcame the biggest and richest Democrat special interest group of all—government unions—in both a recall election and a re-election. I sent you a firebrand from Texas who almost single-handedly kept the government health care takeover in voter’s minds as a Democrat-only policy and handed Republicans a Senate victory a year later because of it. I gave you a determined outsider who could articulate conservative values like Reagan, who ran a company bigger than most states, and who overcame health issues and gender issues during a year when the press wants to focus the election on both. What in the hell were you waiting for?
This year has the best candidates running for the nomination that I’ve seen in a long time. I absolutely get the fascination with Donald Trump, and I’m not at all doubting that Trump can win the general election. My doubt, and it’s a strong one, is whether he’ll govern as a Conservative, or even as a Republican instead of as the crony Democrat he’s been up until now. He’s not even running as a Republican—he’s running against the Republican Party as much as he’s running against his opponents in the Republican Party and he’s making no promises about accepting the results of the Republican primaries.
He’s promising to be the candidate that gets things done. Well, there is more than one way of getting things done. President Obama gets things done by bypassing Congress, using executive orders as if they were legislation, ignoring the courts when they go against him, and coercing businesses into making his policy their policy. If Trump becomes president, I’m worried he’ll continue governing as President Obama does, as a corporate cronyist.
Businessmen are not automatically conservative and there are multiple ways of running government as a business. One is to ensure accountability, make sure each department understands its mission, remove programs that have outlived their usefulness or even work against their supposed mission, and make sure that regulations are simple enough and coherent enough that they can actually be followed. This is the way that is currently being championed by Carly Fiorina, for example. It means placing control of resources close to the voter—at the state or local level—where management of those resources can be held accountable, rather than at the top end where accountability is diluted.
Another way to run government like a business is to feed contracts to the businesses that kick back some of the profit to you, inflate the size of departments to inflate their importance beyond their mission, and increase the size of their bureaucracy, both in regulations and people, to ensure that only insiders can make use of the benefits of that department. And at the same time allow the department to harass people for not following rules that no one could possibly understand to begin with.
The proponent of this style will, for example, use bankruptcy as an insider’s game rather than a last resort, just another way of doing business and competing against those who don’t understand the rules of the game. This is the kind of person who will donate to public officials so that they’ll appear at their daughter’s wedding. It means running government less like a business and more like a mafia. They will make sure that resources are controlled at the top, because that control gives the person at the top power. Power to threaten cutting off those resources, or diverting them to someone with a better voting record or who donates more.
On the other hand, if Trump does not take the Republican nomination, and does not run third party afterward, he is performing one very useful service: all right-thinking people are certain that Donald Trump cannot win the general, even against Hillary Clinton. Thus, the longer Trump stays at the top of the polls, the longer Clinton remains an acceptable candidate on the left. Because my gut tells me that Biden or Gore, or even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, would provide a stronger opponent than Clinton. She has nowhere near the charisma that Bill did and yet she’s piling up avoidable scandals faster than he went after women.
She’s already talking down her competence in order to avoid the classified document scandal, and will be forced to run on a record as Secretary of State in a period that saw Middle East extremism exploding out of control with US support and Russia in Ukraine after, or because of, her reset diplomacy. In the Democrat’s lineup of old, tired, white options, she’s the biggest example of yesterday’s tired, failed policies. And in an environment where voters seem to be against the insider political class, the email/documents scandal itself is pushing out the pay-for-policy scandal involving the Clinton foundations.
Could that be Trump’s gift to the country? Keeping Hillary Clinton in until it’s too late? It seems unlikely, especially given his previous history with the Clintons, but who knows? It’s primary season, and that means it’s crazy season.
In response to Election 2016: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.