Donald Trump

How Mitt Romney Is Totally Wrong About Donald Trump

The billionaire blowhard isn't a threat to modern Republicanism. He's its perfect distillation.


Todd Krainin-Reason

As Peter Suderman has noted, Mitt Romney has weighed in on Donald Trump, mustering all the nastiness a Mormon can summon without resorting to cursing in public. "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," declared the one-term governor of Massachusetts and failed 2012 GOP presidential candidate. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."

To which Trump responded thus:

The easy rejoinder to Romney is to say he's accurate but his timing is too late to matter. Indeed, as Trump's march to the Republican nomination proceeds, this is fast becoming the conventional wisdom among GOP activists, whether they are part of the #NeverTrump crew or are coming to terms with having the guy at the top of their ticket. As longtime Republican consultant, no in-the-tank Trump loyalist Alex Castellanos recently wrote

Donald Trump whipped the establishment and it is too late for the limp GOP establishment to ask their mommy to step in and rewrite the rules because they were humiliated for their impotence.

If Trump is going to be our nominee, as I believe he is, it is our mission to support Trump and make him the best nominee and president possible.

What both sides—conservatives who say they will NEVER vote for Trump under any circumstances and conservatives who will grudgingly fall in line—misunderstand is that Trump isn't a fraud perpetrated on the Republican Party, nor on the throngs of Republican primary voters who have propelled him to victory all over the place.

Put simply, Trump is the distillation of conservative Republican politics for all of the 21st century. He's not the cause of a GOP implosion, but the final effect of an intellectual and political hollowing-out of any semblance of commitment to limited government, individual rights, and free markets. He is what happens when you fail to live up to your rhetoric and aspirations again and again. 

Yes, as Romney stated, The Donald has shifted positions on all sorts of issues over the years (immigration, outsourcing, abortion, whatever). As if that isn't a clearer indictment of the Republican Party when it ran both houses of Congress and the White House in the early part of this century. Winning the most-contested election in the history of the United States, George W. Bush campaigned on reducing the size, scope, and spending of government—and then proceeded to kick out the jams on constraints on government outlays.

Leave aside massive increases in defense spending and the scope of foreign policy ambitions for the moment (we'll get to them). With help of "conservative" and "establishment" legislators (it's far from clear what either of these terms really means, except to the GOP Mensheviks and Bolsheviks tossing them at each other like Molotov Cocktails), the Republicans pushed No Child Left Behind, the single-biggest expansion of the federal government into education in decades, and the creation of a budget-busting prescription-drug entitlement for seniors. They signed off on Sarbanes-Oxley, a dumb regulatory response to the Enron scandal and bursting of the tech bubble, which helped push IPOs to London and foreign capitals. Bush and the GOP signed off on protectionist measures against foreign steel and timber when it suited them while completely bungling federal responses to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

Then there was the Republican response to the 9/11 attacks. The Republican Congress signed off on The Patriot Act, which vies with Hillary Clinton's latest memoir for the title of least-read (even by the authors) doorstop of this century. They created not just the demonstrably useless Transportation Security Administration but an entirely new and sclerotic cabinet agency, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS). And now as conservatives and Republicans whine about Donald Trump's authoritarian desire to "open up the libel laws," recall what Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft said to anyone who dast dissent from Total Information Awareness

"Those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty," he inveighed before Congress, "your tactics only aid terrorists."

Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus

When it came to actually prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the GOP was anything but fiscally responsible or part of what used to be called the "reality-based community." Rather, Republicans deliberately funded (still) ongoing activites via "emergency supplemental" spending procedures, so they didn't really have to fully explain to the public how much loot they were spending. That underhanded process only stopped once Barack Obama took office, in the brief moment when he and the Democrats deigned to actually produce and write budgets. Having succeeded with passing tax cuts, the Republicans—despite constantly bashing the Democrats as big spenders and deficit whores—never bothered to discuss how to pay for massive increases in military spending. Or Medicare spending. Or any other sort of outlay that ballooned under Bush and the Republican Congress. But don't you see? It's Obama and the Democrats who are to blame for everything—even when the GOP controls Congress?

Who created TARP and which party's 2008 candidate suspended his campaign so that he could race back to Washington to bail out the big banks and, eventually Chrysler and GM? On his way out the door (and after a last-ditch $100 million stimulus plan that is largely forgotten to all but the nation's debtors), George W. Bush actually said, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." Like much of what Donald Trump says today, of course, this is a lie, or at least an exaggeration, to the extent it pretends that George W. Bush, whose greatest business deal involved family connections and eminent domain, ever embodied free-market principles.

But what's past is past, right? And today's conservatives all hated Bush and the GOP Congress, right, even if they did endorse George W. and company (except when he tried to privatize Social Security or, even worse, pass immigration reform).

In 2008 and 2012, the Republican Party ran such paragons of principle and consistency as John McCain and Mitt Romney for president. What was notable about McCain, besides his reflexive war-mongering, was that he ultimately flipped from being actually kind of open-bordersy to cutting TV commercials demanding that we "complete the danged fence." As for Romney, who now sits in smug judgement of Donald Trump, he was that GOP guy who "evolved" on abortion and gay rights (even though Republicans don't believe in evolution) and, oh yeah, created the program that became the model for Obamacare.

But let's not just look at the top of Republican tickets to see the ideological rot and hypocrisy that hollowed out the conservative Republican "brand" like a wet log teeming with termites. At least since Barry Goldwater and certainly since Ronald Reagan's success, the GOP has always billed itself as the party not just of "limited" government but of small government—or at least smaller government than whatever the Democrats were yapping about. What was it that St. Reagan used to say? "Government isn't the solution, it's the problem." 

Consistently though, conservatives and Republicans translated that slogan into a standing demand to increase military spending regardless of actual threats to America or demonstrated outcomes of interventions abroad (the government is incompetent at everything, don't you know, except for rebuilding civilizations in central Asia and the Middle East). Also, conservatives, like their left-wing hero George Orwell, praise plain language, except when it comes time to describe torture (by which I mean "enhanced interrogations") and they want power taken away from the White House (as long as a Democrat is living there). Otherwise, welll you know the drill.

When it comes to personal responsibility and following the law, conservatives are all for it, unless you want to smoke a joint rather than drink whisky, or if you're Scooter Libby or Conrad Black or some famous conservative type who gets caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing. 

We hear this all the time, don't we: Conservatives just hate it when Democrats and liberals divide us into groups based on race or sex or class, but how dare you claim that foreigners, especially Spanish-speaking mestizos, who are uniquely incapable of assimilation, be allowed to work legally in this country! Kim Davis, the great gay-marriage refusenik was feted by Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee and became a conservative hero for refusing to do her government job. Why, because the state should discriminate against individuals…when conservatives want it to. Oh and the 47 percent? Screw 'em, they won't vote for us anyway or anyhow.

Because—and this is very important to the rise of Donald Trump—conservativism and Republicanism have no real fixed definition or even ultimately a coherent set of principles. Sometimes they are for limited government, sometimes they want a maximal state. They're against the individual mandate for Obamacare, except when they invented the concept (thanks Heritage Foundation). They are for small, tiny government except when they are not. They are for FREEDOM (all caps), except when they believe opening up the borders or letting women wear pants or giving ex-felons the right to vote will destroy EVERYTHING. They are against political correctness (like Trump!) because it allows a "hate group" such as Black Lives Matter besmirch the reputation of police, but WTF Donald Trump, you're just vulgar and a bully! How can you suggest that Megyn Kelly is on the rag while the dread menace of transgender bathrooms and the "social decay" caused by Caitlyn Jenner proceed apace. Next thing you know, you'll be denying that men and women are different or that ladies can fight in combat.

If all of this is kind of confusing and contradictory, well, welcome to the conservative Republican treehouse.

As Natonal Review's Jonah Goldberg has written

Conservatism isn't a single thing. Indeed, as I have argued before, I think it's a contradictory thing, a bundle of principles married to a prudential and humble appreciation of the complexity of life and the sanctity of successful human institutions.

Maybe it's just me, but when I think of high-profile professional conservatives, the last word I think of is humble. Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity are anything but humble, either in their demeanor or their willingness to speak Truth with a capital T. But Goldberg has put together a pretty good working definition, especially the part about conservatism (and by extension, the Republican Party) being a "contradictory thing." You add partisan politics into the mix and what you get is a huge mess of contradictory things that ultimately make no sense, at least if you prize philosophical or systematic consistency in any way, shape, or form (oh, the curse of the libertarian mind!). The key thing about conservatives and Republicans is that they have created an identity from which they can deviate whenever the hell they feel like it.

So bailouts and stimulus spending are good or at least defensible when George Bush wants them but bad if Barack Obama wants them. The state shouldn't discriminate, except against gays, or weed, or whatever. As Ted Cruz can tell you, federal officials should enforce ALL THE LAWS against immigrants, but Kim Davis is a hero for refusing to do her job. Mitt Romney was for abortion before he was against it, so fuck you Donald Trump, you're no conservative (we know this because you used to be very into abortion). Don't you realize that Donald Trump presents a unique threat to the Constitution when he denounces birthright citizenship but it's OK when Ted Cruz says exactly the same thing, or suggests that Supreme Court justices should face "retention elections"? Do I contradict myself, asked the famously gay (and racist) poet Walt Whitman. Verily, indeed. What's the problem?

Having situational ethics and situational public policies makes it easy to change your stance on this or that (and let's not pretend that liberals and Democrats don't do the same thing). But unless you're part of the shrinking tribes of conservatives and Republicans, the effect is profoundly alienating. And it's even more boring than watching that episode of the old, original Star Trek where Frank Gorshin and the other guy with half-black/half-white faces hate each other until you realize…they're faces are mirror images of one another.

People—even or especially Trump supporters—aren't idiots. They know political grandstanding when they see it, and they fully understand that conservatives and Republicans don't really believe in the things they talk about. Or, same thing, that everything can and will change in the blink of the eye or in ways that just don't make sense. Didn't Mitt Romney beg Donald Trump for an endorsement a few years ago? Romney, whom every conservative news org endorsed and approved, ran for president by attacking Obamacare and the incumbent for spending too much money. He also promised to keep the parts of Obamacare "he liked" and refused to name a single big-ticket spending program he would cut or even trim. Upon becoming Speaker of the House after a million years in waiting, John Boehner was incapable of naming a single program or department he would get rid of.

You can hear it already: But…but…but…Romney and Boehner and all the rest aren't real conservatives or Republicans or whatever. No, that would be Paul Ryan, whose first big act as Boehner's replacement was to sign off on a deal that increased spending on defense and social programs. Whatevs, buddy, whatevs. Conservatives and Republicans have wielded total power and partial power and haven't just failed to do anything with it; they've actively undermined their rhetoric and their credibility. And then tell you that you're nuts for noticing.

And now they are just coming across as bitter losers (Trump's language infects us all) who are seeing a businessman come in and buy up their company at a fraction of its former valuation (hey, isn't that a good thing when Bain Capital does it? Shouldn't we have let Honda do that to GM?).

In equating Mexican immigrants with rapists and drug dealers and calling for mass deportations, Trump brought xenophobia back to the forefront of U.S. politics but National Review assails him for being soft on immigration (really: Trump obviously buys into "the dismayingly conventional view that current levels of legal immigration are fine," say the editors). When not agitating for military intervention, The Weekly Standard has spent much of its existence denouncing China as a rogue state whose trade policies are on a collision course with U.S. interests. But when Trump runs with that argument, well, he's got it all wrong!

In the 2016 election season, Trump alone among the Republican candidates has brought energy and a sense of invicibility. For those of us who actually believe in limited government, reducing federal spending and debt, and getting the government out of people's lives, this is not good. But for all the darkness of his despicable vision of immigrants ("They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."), he is also optimistic even as modern-day millenarians and xenophobes such as Ted Cruz only promise endless fights on the edge of the lake of fire. He wants to make America great again, while most conservative Republicans have shown themselves more comfortable with just blaming everything on Obama, or Harry Reid, or Elizabeth Warren, or the left-wing media, or those Marxists at Harvard

To the extent that conservatives and Republicans are mostly complaining that Trump isn't a real Republican or a real conservative, they are simply acknowledging that his policy positions (such as they are) are mostly in line with whatever Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich are selling (and whatever Mitt Romney offered up in 2012). Nobody is pretending that Trump would be doing as well in the Democratic primaries, are they? And to the extent that Republican critics say he's a "contradictory thing" who changes his position from one day to the next, well, they're just admitting that maybe he is a real conservative after all.

NEXT: Alabama Politicians Want to Exempt Themselves From Ethics Laws

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  1. The billionaire blowhard isn’t a threat to modern Republicanism. He’s its perfect distillation.

    Can’t it be both?

    1. Yes. He’s the perfect distillation of modern republicanism, for all the reason The Jacket point out. He’s a threat to it because he’s not pretending to be anything but a big government loving authoritarian assclown, and laying bare the lie of Republicans ever really being for “small government.”

      1. *reasons… points out*

        Plural case iz teh hardz

  2. This Trump guy sounds kind of interesting can’t believe I haven’t heard of him previously. The Reason staff should write another article about him.

    1. I’ve noticed a distinct lack of info; what’s wrong with these guys?
      I mean, is he a D or an R? Should I know of him from some other source? And that hair; what’s with that?

    2. I’m guessing 2 Reason writers will collaborate on a book recapping the Trump campaign next year, and we’ll see a few references to the book in future articles.

  3. Bush and the GOP signed off on protectionist measures against foreign steel and timber when it suited them while completely bungling federal responses to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

    The entire rant is correct up until there. The state of Louisiana was responsible for the response to Katrina, not the feds. And the FEMA was terrible responding to Sandy. You just didn’t hear about it.

    1. I managed to read until this pearl of wisdom:

      they invented the concept (thanks Heritage Foundation)

      1. Longer quote:

        They[conservativism and Republicanism]’re against the individual mandate for Obamacare, except when they invented the concept (thanks Heritage Foundation).

        1. And they nominated the guy who first put it into law. But they can only nominate a CONSERVATIVE!!

          1. It was only meant to the applied in Massachusetts. Everybody knows that, even though you cannot find a single person who actually said that at the time.

            1. I’d be interested to see if we could find ANY example of a state law about which the sponsors stated when passing it that “it is only meant to apply in this state.” Kind of goes without saying, since that’s the only purview of state law. When Congress passes a law, no one says, “Oh, and by the way, this law is only meant to apply in the United States.”

          2. It was only meant to the applied in Massachusetts. Everybody knows that, even though you cannot find a single person who actually said that at the time.

        2. Yes, because if any conservative ever proposes something, then when Republicans vote against something vaguely related to that proposal, the only logical conclusion is that they must be racist partisans who are voting against good policy because they want to hurt Obama! It can’t possibly have any other reason! /prog

      2. Yeah, that’s another lefty talking point that gets picked up by libertarians without looking at the details. The Heritage plan was for what used to be called “major medical” or catastrophic insurance. There’s a big difference between that and Obamacare, which is so larded up with benefits that’s it’s a different and much more expensive beast.

        Nick also forgot McCain/Feingold, which I considered a major breach of free speech that the GOP should have opposed.

        And can we please stop using “xenophobe” to tar anyone who objects to mass immigration, legal or illegal? It’s not “an irrational fear” to object to tens of millions of foreigners turning your country into a different and worse country.

        1. Only a xenophobe would consider their new multicultural home as worse!

          1. Imported crime, poverty, disease, and terrorism are just the price we must pay, you racist! And if you don’t support importing anti-libertarians, you’re not really a libertarian!

            1. The demand for open borders is actually pretty stupid when you have a country with a welfare system.

              There is a real limit on how quickly people, any people, assimilate into a new society. It varies based on reasons for coming to the new society, how many people come from a single place, and how long that movement of people is sustained. If there is a large, sustained over time influx, particularly if many came for economic reasons only and otherwise loved the socialist society they came from, they have “critical mass”. By this I mean that they live amongst themselves and to not assimilate, the continuing flow of new immigants continues to renew the outside culture.

              This is far from a complete description of the problem, but it is certainly possible to want controls on immigration, not because you are racist, but because you like the country you have and want others to come under conditions that foster assimilation.

              The continual chant of RACIST, BIGOT, etc. simply indicates to me that you have no solid response to the facts, such as I discussed.

              1. “these [arguments] are so very bad that writers of this kind endeavor to make up for the weakness of their arguments by the strong terms in which they express their abhorrence of the practice;”

              2. It’s abhorrent to so many because it contradicts modern articles of faith: that all cultures and religions and ethnicities of people are all equal. (Or at least would be, if only white people stopped oppressing everyone and properly atoned for, and paid for, their past sins.)

                1. I can never figure out who’s being the biggest hypocrite in this one:

                  0: “We really need free markets and a very limited government.”

                  1: “Yeah? Well, fuck that. We’re using a big government and making shit be the way WE like it! And we like it like THIS!”

                  0: “Oh, well, in that case, let’s keep the weirdos out, then.”

                  1: “Where’s your liberty now, bitch?”

                  0: “Gee: I don’t know. Where’d it go?”

                  1. There’s another contradiction: libertarians who want Muslim immigration, and then object to the government trying to fight terrorist activity. Hey brainiacs, if you don’t import Muslims you’ll have fewer terrorists to look for and thus less need for government surveillance. Duh.

            2. I have yet to understand why open borders or looking kindly on immigration is a “libertarian” position. Maybe an anarchist position (no government means no borders), but libertarian? I don’t get it. My libertarian principles apply to my society, which isn’t open to everyone, especially those who are disinclined to approve of liberty.

              1. It is not a legal libertarian position.
                In fact from a legal libertarian position, the issue is purely discretionary, whatever the collective American citizenry wants is just fine and consistent with libertarianism.
                Just like any private property owner’s discretion.

                As you note, international law is anarchistic in nature. Immigration is squarely an international law question/issue.

                There is an informal libertarian sentiment that all people should be free go where they want, but even that sentiment doesn’t trump going onto private property where you are not wanted.

              2. Clearly, you’ve given this some thought. Adding disclaimers instead of deleting really dumb planks only transmits a sense of confusion and internal struggle to voters. Better to shorten the platform than keep the current abortion and borders planks. Let the other parties publish stupid planks while we keep the good ones.

        2. No, we can’t stop, because it’s a pretty good word. The country has always been subject to a stream of foreigners. Most of the people here are a generation or two away from being foreigners. What the fuck is your problem? What the fuck are you afraid of?

          1. Has the country always provided such an expensive social net?

          2. Afraid of importing people who are of mindsets and from cultures that like less liberty, not more.

            1. Having coexisted with those mindsets and cultures up close and personal in their languages, I can safely report that outside of These States you’ll barely find a handful of people who know the definition or function of government, or the definitions of freedom and rights. The American Republican, Prohibition and Tea parties are largely responsible for exporting “idiologies” and policies that are hostile to freedom. Once the US is again a net exporter of freedom we’ll be positioned to indiscriminately import the victims of totalitarian brainwashing.

          3. I’m an immigrant myself, and you bet I’m a “xenophobe”: if I liked the people in my old country and the way they did things, I wouldn’t have left! While I think the US certainly benefits from some immigration, I also recognize the right and necessity of any nation state to control immigration.

            That’s not inconsistent with libertarianism either: nation states, like the US, are intrinsically non-libertarian and often function like (poorly run) private associations and insurers.

        3. Who you callin’ a xenophobe? Puerto Rico is 40 miles wide and we’re stuck with whatever policy the gringos foist on us. Prohibition was bad enough! Millions of mohammedans fleeing the policies their own beliefs have made inevitable for 12 centuries would, I’m sure, be much happier in Cuba. After the Partido Libertario Cubano or Barbados Liberal Democratic party adopts a plank admitting Saracen terrorists/terrorized with no frisking or ID, we’ll talk.

    2. Regarding Katrina: at the very least, the broken levies were the federal government’s responsibility. Whether or not they should have been to begin with is an academic argument at this point; they were constructed and maintained by the feds. However, nearly everything else that contributed to the fuck-up that was the Katrina disaster can be laid at the feet of decades worth of corrupt incompetent governments in Baton Rouge.

      1. Yeah, but their shittiness goes back generations.

      2. The maintenance of those levies was a local issue. They got money from the Feds to maintain them and did not. In addition, the population fought against raising them because it would require taking more property.

      3. Or, you can blame the morons that saw nothing wrong with living below sea level on an oceanfront.

  4. The same guy who sat there holding his dick letting Obama off the hook for the entire campaign in 2012, is now going to show us what a tough guy he is going after Trump.

    These people really have no idea how ridiculous they are.

    1. Agreed. Romney is to Obama as Christie is to Trump.

    2. You’re the ridick one. Go through the Reason archives. It’s been plenty critical of Obama every minute of every day. You’ve got no perspective because you’re a conservative shithead with an incoherent ideology who has fucked up the country. Go fuck yourself.

      1. Hey, Nyar, pull your head-analogue out of your anal orifices. He’s not talking about Reason–he’s talking about the GOP and Romney attacking Trump when they were very hands off when it came to Obama.

        Does your dad know you’re spewing bile all over the place? Go home kid, the stars ain’t right.

  5. I’ll take Shackford’s article over this dribble from The Jacket all day every day and twice on Sunday. Republicans are against women wearing pants. Ho Ho Ho, thanks for that, John Oliver wannabe.

    1. Also Republicans don’t believe in evolution…SUPER RED HOT TAKE.

      1. Politifact would probably rate this as half correct. Only about half of them don’t believe in it.…..ution.aspx

        1. Like about half of all Americans. And it’s not Republicanism that causes a lack of belief in evolution, but church attendance, which happens to correlate with Republicanism.

          In any case, these polls really shouldn’t be asking who “believes in” or “supports” evolution, but who actually understands it. I suspect you’ll find that Democrats are about as ignorant as Republicans.

    2. Women shouldn’t wear pants.

      I’m against anything that denies access to women.

    3. *drivel

      Sorry, been seeing this a lot lately. Now I’m on a crusade.

    4. Ah, genius. If you weren’t such a fucking slave to your id, devoted to nursing whatever petty grievances and xenophobia keep you interested in your daily grind, you’d recognize how incoherent modern conservatism is, and repent, hopefully by throwing yourself off a goddamn bridge.

  6. Reason is more obsessed with Trump than my roommate. That’s all he can talk about. And how, since he’s brown, Trump is causing him to fear for his safety 😐

    1. to be fair to reason, they are a political magazine and trump is the republican frontrunner.

    2. Sounds like a mark for the Democrat party if ever there was one.

    3. What the fuck else would YOU talk about? Idiot.

  7. Change the channel, Marge.

  8. The Republican party is hypocritical because it is composed of hypocrites. One of whom is Mitt Romney, who will do whatever it takes to put his business (Bain Capital and their huge investment in opiate addiction treatment) ahead of his country. Even if it means doing a completely cynical fake attack on Trump designed to backfire and create even more political support for building the wall to stop the flow the heroin which will magically stop our drug problems and prevent the kids from getting addicted. Either that or it will make these problems worse. I guess we’ll find out.

    1. I loved the comment by trump when he said that if he told him to romney would have gotten on his knees. I’m surprised no one has picked up on that and ran with it like they did when he said kelly was bleeding out all her openings.

    2. All politicians are hypocritical.

  9. They’re called RINOs.

    1. Although they ARE Republicans. The problem is that the Republican party is just team red. They do not actually HAVE principles. The principles they claim are like the testimonials on diet programs. What they are really into is enriching themselves and those the actually work for, at the public expense.

  10. It’s ironic that Rubio and Romney are attacking Trump about his “university”, calling it a scam. Who was it that defended Corinthian to the Department of Education before that “university” was engulfed in countless fraud lawsuits and forced to file bankruptcy? Yes, it was Rubio (and he did it for a paltry $27,000 in campaign contributions over half a decade).

    1. It’s also a bit ironic for supporters of incompetent public schools and overpriced universities that saddle students with debt, useless degrees, and bullshit SJW ideology to call other schools a “scam.”

  11. God, I’m actually defending Trump against these people. That’s how much they disgust me.

    1. Many people don’t fully grasp how much support Trump is getting out of similar feelings of disgust for the major parties.

      1. Yup. Protest vote. Self-inflicted wound. Couldn’t happen to a bigger bunch of assholes.

        1. The wounds are cutting both ways.

          Look at turnout numbers. Many people are crossing over to vote for Trump, and they are doing for the express purpose of supporting Trump.

          This is not a one party crackup.

          1. When your alternative is ‘Grandpa Economics’ and a felon I can start to see the appeal of literally anyone else.

      2. I’m starting to get the feeling the GOP are like Jerry’s mother who incredulously said, ‘how could anyone not like you?’

        It took Morty to at least ‘see’ it can happen.

        That’s my Seinfeld reference for the day.

      3. Republicans are powered by disgust.

        1. They are disgusting all the time.

        2. Oh, and boredom, and resentment, and lust.

  12. If Trump is going to be our nominee, as I believe he is, it is our mission to support Trump and make him the best nominee and president possible.

    I foresee a whole lot of, “Oh, this? I walked into a door. I’m so clumsy, sometimes. Gotta run. Donald needs me,” in the future.

    1. Is that a Harry Reid reference?…..k_eye3.jpg

  13. Put simply, Trump is the distallation of conservative Republican politics for all of the 21st century. He’s not the cause of a GOP implosion, but the final effect of an intellectual and political hollowing-out of any semblance of commitment to limited government, individual rights, and free markets.

    Interesting take…

    *said in the tone of Paul Giamatti’s character in Sideways responding to the man said he didn’t believe in reading fiction*

    So is the argument here that all the establishment members of GOP who don’t support him and haven’t moved one inch on limited government (the shutdown will backfire!) are just like Trump, but stayed hidden beneath a mask of liberal moderatism?

    1. I think the argument here is they’re hypocrites and liars, just like Trump.

    2. Who the hell are you talking about? The GOP establishment as a group of dedicated small-government advocates? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? Do you watch the proposals? Do you listen to the calls to action?

  14. Oh, yeah? But when will you start noticing the hypocrisy and malfeasance of Republicans? Where has Team Red been while…



    Never mind.

  15. While I am eternally frustrated with how the GOP is run and what it priorities have been, it is easy to be ideologically pure when the pols you support have no power and no responsibilities and therefore have no necessity to compromise to get some part of an agenda passed. For instance, the Democrats insisted that DHS be its own department and TSA generalize airport security (Tom Daschle: “We have to generalize to professionalize”).

    There is no recognition that political capital is a scarce resource and a GOP controlled branch of government is not omnipotent.

    1. ” We have to federalize to professionalize”

      Damned autocorrect.

  16. Trump also isn’t a threat to democracy, as some headlines said. Trump is a threat OF democracy.

    1. Meaning the people, whether or not we agree with them, are choosing who they want instead of big money who pays gov’t to keep them rich, stifle competition. This gives me, as a libertarian, hope that maybe this big money influence will be broken and those with a real message can finally be heard. Now for the Massies, Amashes, even Rand Pauls to build on this.

      1. This small victory is akin to the the positive points of Bernie Sanders. While it may be encouraging to see something curb the effect of big money in politics, it comes with a whole lot of baggage.

      2. If you pin your hopes on government by “those with a real message”, you aren’t a libertarian.

      3. If you pin your hopes on electing politicians “with a real message”, you aren’t a libertarian; just like any other statist, you are pinning your hopes on a statist solution, even if that solution is the state voluntarily choosing to downsize (as if that’s ever going to happen).

    2. we are getting what we wanted, good and hard.

  17. Conservatives just hate it when Democrats and liberals divide us into groups based on race or sex, but how dare you claim that foreigners

    You see, for the purposes of US government policy, foreigners aren’t considered “us” by a lot of Americans. That likely offends the sensibilities of the OPEN BORDERZ crowd around here, but I think most Americans feel that way. You can consider us all Worse than Hitler if it makes you feel better.

    The appeal of Trump’s political program is the application of that solidarity with Americans to politics: “An American government of, by, and for Americans”.

    1. You are against Hillary’s open government efforts?

  18. I have to admit this whole Trump phenomenon has me in a conundrum. I’ve often dreamed of a “no-nonsense” “give-em hell Harry” type of politician. One who was not beholden to moneyed interests, owed few, if any political favors, and didn’t care whose toes he or she stepped on in the march to do what was right for the country.

    Trump is close to this however he is Donald Trump. WTF?

    In the end it matters little. I’m in the “Anyone But” party, I’ll vote for anyone but Hillary or another BHO 3.
    Hell I’d vote for a severed penis instead of Hilldingle.

    1. “didn’t care whose toes he or she stepped on in the march to do what was right for the country.”

      Yes, like a South American caudillo! Like a good strongman! Nice going, idiot. You’re fucking the country with your fingers and mouth, somehow.

      1. I hope you didn’t pay a lot for that anger management therapy.

      2. I come to Reason for the enlightened discourse.

        But I stay for the ad-hominem attacks and name-calling?

    2. One who was not beholden to moneyed interests, owed few, if any political favors, and didn’t care whose toes he or she stepped on in the march to do what was right for the country.

      It’s almost like… you are calling for an Enabling Act! Because that worked so well!

  19. It is interesting how tone deaf the Republican Establishment really is.

    They wheel out the living embodiment of the Ineffectual Republican Establishment in an attempt to torpedo a non-establishment nominee. Better Hillary crowned as Empress than the Republican Establishment giving up power within the Republican Party.

    1. Yeah, clearly that whole ‘Tea Party’ thing wasn’t a big waving red flag that they should probably pay some fucking attention to their base sometime this century.

      At least the democrats seem to very loosely agree that the United States shouldn’t exist anymore. Say what you will about nihilism, at least it’s an ethos…

  20. “People?even or especially Trump supporters?aren’t idiots. They know political grandstanding when they see it, and they fully understand that conservatives and Republicans don’t really believe in the things they talk about.”

    Oh no, does this mean nick is one them thar idgit morans that everyone is saying a trump supporter is (I’m not saying he is a supporter). How dare he not just write that everyone who follows trump is a brain washed idiot, how dare he not take the elitist tack.

  21. Romney is a loser, a joke. This is what is wrong with the crony conservative republican party. They listen to and follow losers. Didn’t bush have a lot of the same people his brother had when he was prez?

  22. You’re just trying to fit the Trump phenomena into anything that would allow you to say “See, I told you so.”

    Yeah, but you didn’t. It was you who once wrote an article about how Tex Cruz might be the future of the Republican Party, and he only reflected all the confusion you cite above. You were real happy when Rand Paul was ascendant within the GOP ranks and it looked like both GOP voters and the establishment we’re going to embrace him. In fact, you were sure we were in a libertarian moment.

    But now this blowhard who is all over the place is the distillation of all you thought was improving just a few months ago.

    The only thing he is the perfect distillation of is anger as a replacement for anything rational. As long as you’re angry, and screaming, and instilling fear, that’s acceptable. That sounds like not only right wing media, but also most of the Tea Party, which you gave cover to.

    You’re as late to the game calling out some of this stuff as the GOP.

    1. Yeah, cause we all know Democrats aren’t angry or instilling fear.

      Herp a derp.

      1. Yup, this sure is advancing libertarianism. Pretty soon, it won’t matter what percentage of voters want pot to be legalized, as legality will be the last thing on their minds.

    2. Uh, I think he wrote an article about how Ted Cruz *might* be the future of the party back in 2013. When he wasn’t running for president. Before he’d even been in office for a year. Back when he was filibustering around the same time Rand Paul was. And how that *might* be the future of the republican party.

      So, yeah, a few months ago. If you think 25 months or so are a “few months.”

      Just remember: in the future, when the climate deal turns out to be much ado about nothing: you really believed Obama was going to stop oceans from receding.

      1. Uh, 2 years ago isn’t that long ago. And Rand Paul was up and coming about one year ago. And Gillespie wrote an article just a few months ago that we STILL were in a libertarian moment.

        Uh, try again.

        1. Did he say we’re in a libertarian moment a few months ago because republicans are awesome?

          1. It’s the party Reason has hung libertarian’s star on. And read Mick’s article. Now he claims all of this confusion goes back years, and yet he himself was bullish on libertarians within the GOP just two years ago.

            “As if that isn’t a clearer indictment of the Republican Party when it ran both houses of Congress and the White House in the early part of this century.”

            Hindsight is always 20/20.

            1. *Nick’s

            2. So I take that as a no, he didn’t say that we’re in a libertarian moment because republicans are awesome.

              Yeah, I missed the articles that read like “Hey, I really like what this Rand Paul guy is doing, filibustering the use of drone strikes. I expect the entire republican party to rally around him, embrace libertarianism, and go forward into the 2016 elections! This isn’t a hint at an optimistic option. It is the certain future!”

              Then again, I suspect that you’ll be reading certain things, whether or not they’re actually being written.

              Anyway, I seem to remember a certain lefty regular claiming that this can’t be the libertarian moment, because Bernie Sanders shows us that we’re have the Socialist Moment. I guess it only takes a few weeks for a guy to go from messiah to “Hey: who’s the crazy bald old man standing behind our next president?”

              But, then, you’re a smart one, so you already knew we were never having a socialist moment.

          2. I’ll tell you what. Look at the dismal picture Nick just painted of the GOP, and how Trump is just the logical future of such chaos.

            Where in the past is the article here that predicted we would see such a candidate if it was so self evident? No, the articles have been how Rand Paul was ascendant, and it was a libertarian moment. Even when Trump was leading in the polls, he was never going to win. But now? Heck, it was all in the cards years ago.

            Give me a break.

            1. fuck off, joe

    3. The only thing he is the perfect distillation of is anger as a replacement for anything rational.

      Well, so he’s pretty much like Sanders and Hillary then.

  23. only a small percentage of christian republicans don’t believe in evolution, thats my only complaint with this article. Other than that pretty much cinched my decision to not be a republican anymore. I’m party less.

    1. “only a small percentage”

      But they are in control of the big levers. And they tend to be drug warriors.

  24. So Nick, are you frightened of getting attacked by fascists every time you get out of the city limits, or do you travel? Are you packing something underneath that smelly leather jacket of yours?

  25. ” (and whatever Mitt Romney offered up in 2012)”

    Did mitt Romney offer up all the same policy proposals as Trump?

  26. So voter identification with Republicans is at an all time low, i.e. Rise of the Independents. Turnout in GOP primaries and caucuses is at record highs while Democratic participation is down by a similar amount. So voters who don’t normally vote in GOP elections are suddenly turning out in droves for them. Could it possibly, maybe, potentially be these so called independents hearing Trump’s call?

    Oh dear, that has some bad implications for the Libertarian Moment. Quick, someone call Uber! I think Nick needs a ride!

    1. How’s that portfolio doing?

  27. Romney was right about Trump’s business incompetence, but as for the rest, Romney is in desperate need of a mirror.

  28. Elected officials are supposed to reflect the desires of those who elect them. They’re not supposed to act on their own opinions. They’re supposed to do their boss’s bidding. If the bosses change their minds, they’re supposed to reverse course with them. Why is this viewed as an evil? It may not be good per se, but it’s the way it’s supposed to work.

  29. Whatever the GOP did in under George Bush (one of the most unpopular modern presidents) doesn’t always apply now. The fact that they were more openly supportive of tariffs and invasive security measures nearly 15 years ago has no bearing on Trump. The Republicans do indeed turn “statist” on a number of issues, but even when they do, they’re unlikely to support 45% tariff on Chinese goods and executing family members of terrorists, which is just an outrageous embellishment of their goals or doesn’t meaningfully advance their agenda.

    Reason would clearly scoff at dismiss anti Trump efforts from Republicans by saying that “He’s ONE of you”, but it’s not entirely true. If someone resembling the 90’s Clinton tried to run as the dem nominee NOW, is he distillation of the democrat party? No, because that party has changed to the point of being unrecognizable. Trump does not meaningfully represent the modern republican party, which was a major player in whatever fleeting “libertarian moment” there was. The size of government or spending has become a cornerstone issue for GOP voters and candidates, even if they’re selective about it.

    Right now, Trump is riding on anger and disillusionment of white voters, which almost certainly goes beyond your traditional white republican voters. He’s a new player in town and he’s bringing in whole slew of things to the game that the GOP establishment can’t do anything about.

  30. While you’re having fun bashing republicans, keep in mind that a supreme court justice nominated by trump, Clinton, or Sanders is not going to be friendly to the first and second amendments. But it looks like you have your priorities straight.

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  32. The establishment GOP has always been for amnesty and open boarders. Trump stands out as opposed to the orthodox republicans on immigration. and this is the main driver of his popularity, he is winning the primaries because he attracts new GOP voters, expanding their base to include working class independents and poaching democrats.

    The most important issue for Trump supporters is immigration followed by his politically incorrect speech. He is not afraid of the PC enforcers, he does not apologize and stands up to the PC media complex. Regular people love to see a man not back down and see him a a leader.

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  37. Nice graph. The sooner the dictatorial prohibitionist theocracy quits sullying free market principles by association, the better. Republicans today follow the exact same religious fanaticism the Liberal Party of America was organized to defeat in 1930.

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  43. Please fix the “they’re” in the Frank Gorshin paragraph. It’s hurting my head.

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  46. Nicely done, Nick.

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