Election 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Have More in Common Than You Think

Both 2016 presidential hopefuls believe in the primacy of the state over the individual.


Different but same
Donkey Hotey/Flickr

What if the most remarkable aspect of this presidential election is not how much the two principal candidates disagree with each other but how much they actually agree?

What if they are both statists? What if they both believe that the government's first duty is to take care of itself? What if they both believe in the primacy of the state over the individual?

What if, in clashes between the state and individuals, they both would use the power of the state to trample the rights of individuals?

What if the first priority of both is not to decrease the size and scope of government but to expand it? What if they both believe that the federal government may lawfully and constitutionally right any wrong, tax any behavior and regulate any event? What if they both want to add a few thousand new employees to the federal payroll, give them badges and guns and black shirts, and engage them as federal police to insulate the federal government further from the people and the states?

What if, when James Madison wrote the Constitution, he took great pains to reserve powers to the people and the states that were not delegated away to the feds? What if both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn't care less about that?

What if both of them reject the Madisonian principle that the federal government is limited in scope to the 16 unique and discrete powers given to it by the Constitution? What if they even reject the corollary to that principle, which is that the balance of governmental powers — those not delegated by the Constitution to the feds — resides in the states? What if they both reject the Madisonian principle that in areas of governmental power retained by the states, the states should be free from federal interference?

What if this principle of a limited federal government depends upon the principle of natural rights — areas of human behavior and choice stemming from our humanity and immune from government interference? What if the Declaration of Independence and the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution define our natural rights as inalienable? What if both Trump and Clinton reject that? What if she believes in killing innocents by drone and he believes in torturing innocents at Gitmo?

What if both Clinton and Trump accept the principle that the federal government can address any problem for which there is a national political consensus? What if this idea — championed by Woodrow Wilson, who hated the values of Madison — is the opposite of what the Framers wrote and intended?

What if this Wilsonian principle has unleashed the federal government to regulate nearly all aspects of personal behavior and to enhance immeasurably the powers of an unelected, unseen, and unaccountable federal bureaucracy, which never seems to shrink or change?

What if both Trump and Clinton embrace the idea that federal power, rather than being limited by the Constitution, is limited only by what the feds can't get away with politically? What if this concept was expressly rejected by the Framers but both Trump and Clinton don't care? What if neither of them believes that a limited federal government must reside and remain within the confines of the Constitution?

What if Trump wants the police to be able to stop anyone they wish based on just a hunch that the person is armed or possessing contraband? What if the Fourth Amendment — which requires the police to have individual articulable suspicion, not just hunches and not judgments based on race, in order to stop a person — was expressly written to prohibit just what Trump wants? What if Trump doesn't care because he prefers votes to constitutional fidelity?

What if Clinton wants free higher education for all in America who go to community colleges, all of which are government-owned? What if the Constitution does not delegate regulatory or spending authority over education to the feds? What if there is no such thing as "free" college? What if someone somewhere will need to pay for it?

What if all federal revenue is already committed to wealth transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare), interest payments on the federal government's debt (now north of $400 billion annually), and the Pentagon (which spends crazily so its budget won't be reduced in the future)? What if the Clinton "free" college deal would mean the feds would need to tax more or borrow more or both?

What if more taxation means less money for the productive aspects of society? What if more borrowing produces a decrease in the value of what you already own? What if a dollar spent by the feds produces far less wealth — jobs, income, productivity — than a dollar invested in the private sector? What if Clinton doesn't care because she prefers votes to economic productivity?

What if both Trump and Clinton believe they can use the federal government to bribe the poor with handouts, the middle class with tax breaks, the rich with bailouts and write-offs, and the states with block grants? What if Trump himself has benefited enormously from federal write-offs available only to the very rich?

What if neither talks about personal liberty in a free society? What if they both talk about the government's duty to keep us safe? What if neither talks about the government's first duty, which is to keep us free? What if neither believes that the government works for us? What if they both really believe that we work for the government?

What if Mark Twain was right when he said that the reason we get to vote is it doesn't make much difference?


NEXT: Kennedy Puts Bill Weld Through the Wringer

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  1. They both like Depends

  2. They both like to hear themselves talk

  3. What if we get the leader we deserve?

    1. Who is ‘we,’ kemosabe?

      1. I don’t know about you, but Jack Johnson is the man for me!

        1. I’d vote for Johnny Sins.

  4. Clinton does not believe in the primacy of the state over the individual. That would be a principled stand (albeit not a good one). She believes in the primacy of herself over you and over the state; that she is above the law and you are not. She believes in two sets of rules. As bad as ‘primacy of the state over the individual’ is, the position she holds is far worse.

    A swing and miss.

    1. I just read the title and saw ‘Reason Staff’ so I wasn’t going to slog through another anti-Trump article. Now I see it is Napolitano. I will go back and read it.

      1. Bro.

        Coffee first, comment section.

        1. Should take my own advice I see.

      2. To me, it was apparent when I saw the question marks scattered throughout the quoted paragraph.

        1. What if, Napolitano just wrote an article consisting solely of questions?

  5. Do they both have blood on their hands? Did they both participate in the planning and overthrow of a sovereign nation by implementing a gun-running scheme that further destabilized an entire global region? Did they both subvert records retention laws in order to avoid oversight of their commingling of private and public business while profiting handsomely? Did they both have a major role in an administration that sold weapons illegally across the border to drug lords with the intent of undermining the 2A?

    They actually might have less in common than writers think.

    1. Oops. I left out the implementation and planning of assassinations of American citizens not charged with crimes, the laws xpanded murderdone program that’s killed tens of thousands of innnocent victims in nations we have not declared hostilities with and the gloating over the murder of a head of state that had complied with our requests to abandon his wmd program.

      1. Indeed. One has a track record that can be demonstrated quite easily.

        The other is just a yapper for the time being.

        1. Yeh, I’m tired of the constant assumptions about what Trump is and isn’t. No one really knows and what he says on the stump is always open to interpretation. Professing that he is a “statist” is just arrogant presumption. We have no idea what he is or how he would govern.
          We do however, know exactly how Hillary will govern from her extensive record in and near government.

          It is a choice between a known and a lottery ticket.

          1. It is a choice between a known and a lottery ticket.

            Probably about the same odds as a lottery ticket.

            It doesn’t matter which of these pieces of shit wins, we’re fucked.

            1. “Probably about the same odds as a lottery ticket.”
              Yeh, probably. I look at Trump like a scratch-off ticket. Very unlikely to win the big prize, but a reasonable chance of a couple bucks, maybe more than the cost of the ticket.

              But at the end of the day, that’s very different than buying the cup full of shit that is Hillary knowing you’re going to have to eat it for the next 4 years.

          2. “Professing that he is a statist is just arrogant presumption.”

            What we don’t know is exactly what flavor of statist he will be.

            Given everything he as said (even when you consider the cases where he has said entirely different things), it would be wildly naive to think that he would not be a statist.

            1. Are you basing that opinion on what Trump actually said, or what was reported that he said, because they are two drastically different things.

              I’m not saying Trump is wonderful or that he wouldn’t be a nightmarish statist. But rational adults need to stop talking as if they actually know and accept the fact that they simply don’t. Far too many are walking around proclaiming “Trump is guaranteed to ….”, when no one knows anything of the sort.

              Trump’s actual comments are no more statist than what Johnson has said whenever he gets in front of a microphone. How they are reported and interpreted are very different.

              Don’t vote for Trump for any number of reasons. Making up a fantasy about what he is or isn’t is pathetic, particularly when its coming through the filters of the media leading the sheep where they want them to go.

              1. What has me so peeved about this “Trump will be a horrible statist” crap is too many people are using it as an excuse for their own fear.
                We don’t have a viable libertarian candidate. Yes, the 2-party system sucks.

                What we are faced with is the choice between the shit-stain Hillary and a loud blowhard that says some good things, some questionable things, and some downright scary things. One of those two will be POTUS for 4 years.
                Hillary is known.
                Trump is unknown….we can only guess and that is a scary risk for a lot of people. Trump is a leap of faith that could end in impalement on shit covered spikes.

                Most of the pundits and commenters proclaiming “Trump is a statist…etc” are using it as an excuse for their own fear of the unknown. They are justifying their decision to not vote, or bizarrely, vote for the shit-stain Hillary. And that is effin sad.

  6. “Make America Great Again” = “Stronger Together”, not “Make Americans Great Again”. She’s a socialist, he’s a nationalist. Both agree the individual exists to serve the state.

    And as I’m typing, there’s the story on the new Hillary ad proclaiming we don’t measure greatness by the size of our skyscrapers or our bank accounts, we measure greatness by what we do for others. Fuck off, you evil bitch. Go back to China where you belong.

    1. “…we don’t measure greatness by the size of our skyscrapers or our bank accounts, we measure greatness by what we do for others.”

      So, stop hoarding your money and give it to me? Stop trying to run away and just rest your neck on this comfy wooden block?

      Sounds like a pitch for the Clinton Foundation.

    2. ” we measure greatness by what we do for others”

      So what ya gonna do for me, Hillary? Do I want to know?

      1. Hillary does speeches for others, so she can do that for you.

  7. ” What if they both believe that the government’s first duty is to take care of itself?”

    Trump doesnt appear to believe that. He seems to think that is a large part of the problem. Most of his policy proposals are aimed at undermining that, thus the anti-Trump hysteria from the pure statists. Lower taxes across the board? What? That is just crazy talk. Tax cattle must be taxed! Tax cattle must be made to pay their fair share!

    Trump has something of a checkered score with regards to the Judge’s metric, whereas Clinton does not. On a 1-10 scale Clinton is easily a 10 (worst possible) whereas Trump scores about midway (5-6). We aren’t going to get the Johnson, that isnt in question. I will take the 5-6 thank you very much. At least we would be moving in the right direction, something we haven’t done for nearly 2 decades.

    Lower taxes, cut regulation and make people more wealthy and empowered. In my dreams Trump would nominate Napolitano for the SC. Instead of ranting on Reason he could whack The Donald on the head a few times and get him to see the light with regards to eminent domain and stop and frisk.

    1. Sorry,but no. Pretty much all of Trump’s top priorities would involve a bigger, more expensive, more intrusive government. Even if he did lower taxes, he’s suggested precisely bupkis in lower spending. So just how does that work?

  8. They have far less in common than the usual major party match up.

  9. Clinton is everything that is wrong with this country. Trump is a child, a narcissist, and POS horrible human being. I won’t vote for either. The only advantage of having Trump is that the media and establishment will report everytime he sneezes sideways. Hillary could accidenrly nuke Florida and the media, academia, and pop culture would pretend that Florida never existed and any claim otherwise is a vast rightwing conspiracy.

    1. Hillary could accidentally nuke Florida and the media, academia, and pop culture would pretend that Florida never existed and any claim otherwise is a vast rightwing conspiracy

      Well until that summer a couple months later when people start to go down to the beaches and realize it doesn’t exist anymore in which they will claim that this is just an old scandal at that point and everyone is already over it.

      1. No, no, they’d claim it was swallowed up by rising sea levels caused by Global Warming Climate Change.

      2. And at that point, what difference will it make anyway.

    2. If you nukes us, we will become stronger than you can imagine!

      1. Radioactive Florida Man? Dog help us all…

  10. Only the centralized socialist state and its central committee knows what’s best for you.

    1. ‘You’ as a euphemism for ‘we’ of course.

      You’re only free if the we is free.

  11. Ain’t that the Napolitano we know and love?

    1. What if he just just trolling us at this point?

  12. Another thing they have in common: I didn’t vote for either of them.

    1. Not voting for Clinton is voting for Trump. Not voting for Trump is voting for Clinton. So if you voted for neither, then you voted for both. Confused yet?

      1. I thought I voted for Johnson, but that logic is unassailable.

  13. I’m beginning to think the Judge doesn’t read our comments about these What if…? articles.

  14. Everything is a question to Napolitano.

  15. What if you weigh a person with a lifetime career in politics verses a person with a lifetime career in the free market, building wealth and creating thousands of jobs; a practice which libertarians so much admire, and believe they are equivalent? What if you focus solely on how you wish the world worked rather than how it does work? What if you sit idly by pondering academic ideas that the public largely does not care about? What if you do nothing to stop a candidate who wishes to displace its native population with Sharia-loving 3rd worlders who care even less about every single of those academic ideas and who would happily burn the Constitution in favor of an Islamic caliphate? What if such a candidate publicly expresses admiration for a foreign leader who has done just that to their own country and regretted it?

  16. Eh. I’m no Trump supporter, but the worst you can say about him is that he’s a blowhard crony capitalist who says a lot of awful things on the campaign trail. He has zero track record of doing anything awful as an elected office holder. Which can’t be said of his opponent.

    No plan to vote for either of them, but of the two, Hillary seems far, far more likely to blunder into starting World War III, or to make catastrophic mistakes with respect to national security, than Trump. Given that both sides of the aisle in DC despise Trump, I’d expect his presidency to be utter gridlock. Which would probably work out better for all of us outside of DC.

  17. This is the greatest media trick of the Presidential Selection Carnival. How to make blatantly obvious sameness appear like stark contrasts, and create rage from the imaginary differences. It is the only surprise I get out of this circus, just how successful they are.

  18. One supposes that the judge’s comments might well be more than simply a suggestion to some for the overthrow of “government”, which I suspect he did not intend to encourage, at least not the violent overthrow of government. Re this there remains the following question. Is there any way of government overthrow other than violence, which I would rather not see.

  19. What if Napolitano could write just one fucking sentence that didn’t begin with “What if”???

    Will he ever realize that even when the questions are valid that style melts people’s brains?

    I know that he can write and write quite well. I just wish he’d stop writing short articles with the same insipid question.

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  25. I think Mark Twain was right.

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