Yes, Trump is Worse

I agree with Ezra Klein here. And the insistence with which people attempt to draw moral equivalences between Trump’s transparent thuggery and Clinton’s totally mundane, corrupt-within-ordinary-parameters party machine politics strikes me as a dangerous symptom of a diseased political culture. I find it especially distressing when it comes from libertarians and worry that a movement that has spent decades advancing the indiscriminately delegitimatizing view that politics is inherently criminal, violent, and authoritarian has probably made it harder to see what ought to be vivid distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable political conduct. And that, in turn, has made it more likely that we will get politics that are criminal, violent, and authoritarian. I mean, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin: what’s the difference, right? Well, there’s a difference. And sooner or later unintended consequences come for everybody, even the people who think unintended consequences are for other people. The question is what you do with the cognitive dissonance. When it begins to become apparent that the way you’re pursuing your political goals is having the opposite effect, do you double down and make things worse? Or do you put away your pride, admit error, and modulate your approach in light of new facts?

Another thing that worries me this year is that the dynamics of normal factional politics has a “crying wolf” problem. Partisans have a powerful incentive to encourage the idea that voting for the other side will lead to a dire catastrophe that can only be averted by making sure they lose. But, as it happens, Barack Obama has been a good president, John McCain would have been a fine president, and Mitt Romney, I think, would have been a really good one. (I voted for him once and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.) Hillary Clinton would be a normal president. Donald Trump really could be an utter disaster in just the way Ezra suggests, but there’s little chance right-of-center folks are going to listen to guys like Ezra, who used to be in the business of arguing overdramatically that opposing Obamacare could lead to the deaths of many tens of thousands. We’re wolfed out. So, of course, here comes a very big bad one.

  • Second Best strikes me as being best understood as a caveat that moving to a more optimal system doesn’t necessarily proceed linearly or continuously along a path of deregulation. That doesn’t mean that you can’t predict wuth some confidence that most dergulatory moves won’t enhance welfare, it just means that there are some instances in which they will not– for second best reasons.

  • Noahkgreen

    “The first step in the direction of a laissez faire system of finance would seem to be getting a whole lot more people to think more like John Allison. But I’m afraid that the realistic prospects for this point of view are rather limited.”

    Perhaps that’s why the ARI focuses its efforts on getting copies of Ayn Rand’s novels in to the hands of high school students?

    They seem to alternate between demanding change NOW and laying the groundwork for a very slow but long term strategy of accumulating influence.

  • mikk

    This link “as Matt Welch argues,” seems to be broken?

  • Gay 50 Cent

    “I mean, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin: what’s the difference, right? Well, there’s a difference.”

    There’s a difference in that Putin is better, fag.

  • Anukasan Thera

    The difference between Putin and Merkel: Putin has united the people behind bad socioeconomic policies which will keep them poor but largely happy, safe, and united together as one nation and people. Merkel has divided the people behind bad demographic policies which will enrich them in the short-term at the cost of making them unhappy, unsafe, and divided as an its old nation and people is gradually replaced by a new imported one with Islamic values opposite to and irreconcilable with Western ones. Russia has chosen tough survival which will make it stronger and more united in the long-term; Germany has chosen cultural, demographic, national suicide.
    That is the choice facing the U.S. One of the biggest causes of our stagnant-to-falling wages and rising income inequality since the 70s has been too much immigration–as Harvard economist George Borjas has proven, for every 10 percent increase in potential workers for a given sector, wages fall by 3-4%; and, those unpaid wages accrue to the ownership class, the so-called “One Percenters” who own an increasing share of our nation’s wealth. Over 66 million people in the U.S. today are immigrants or the children of immigrants–the largest mass migration in human history. The reason so many average people rallied around Trump is his immigration stance–unique at the time; no candidate of either party had expressed any interest in slowing this invasion, because it enriches the elites who get all the economic and cultural benefits without paying any of the economic and cultural costs.
    I have seen whole middle-class towns hollowed out by mass immigration. Go to a place like Woodbridge, VA, where a nice town filled with 50-year-old mom-and-pop businesses and thriving strip malls was just devastated by a few years of mass immigration–where illegal immigrants moved in in an uncontrolled tide and destroyed the tax base and stopped shopping anywhere except the new bottom-dollar bodegas that followed, chasing out the natives all the while by bringing rising crime, intolerable levels of sexual harassment, and incompatible cultural mores (not to mention the increasing costs of educating immigrant children, who cost 50% more than native children and are far more numerous, and treating immigrants who don’t pay at hospitals, etc). Today there are weed-filled fenced-off parking lots where the best businesses used to be; so many buildings have been torn down, presumably because it’s cheaper to level everything than to leave an empty building as an attractive nuisance, that it looks like an abandoned factory town. But no; 15 years ago it thrived, but after 5 years of invasion it was irretrievably devolved into barrio slums and the leveling of infrastructure began.
    This is the reality of immigration for the working and middle classes. To many of them, it’s an invasion. What they experience today feels to them as it felt to the Native Americans who saw the tide of white people coming but could not stop it. It is a form of genocide: the displacement and replacement of native peoples by others, in which liberals and cultural elites are complicit. “Immigration is great for the economy” is no different from “The white people bring trade goods.” Yes, in the short term it has benefits. In the long term it replaces our nation and our people with others. And Trump will win because he’s the first major candidate to offer a reprieve from this destruction in over a generation. This is why the common people look to him. This is why, if he’s smart in his rhetoric about jobs and immigration, he’ll even get a larger percentage of the black vote than any Republican presidential hopeful in about 40 years.
    Republican rank-and-file voters tried to warn the elites to fix immigration. When Bush had both houses of Congress, and he declined to act on immigration–the outpouring of frustration was palpable. When the Tea Party movement had its moment, they warned of the schism forming in the party. And when Eric Cantor was primaried over his immigration stance, Republican elites still didn’t listen. Trump is their just punishment. The people back him as a cleansing fire, and don’t care anymore who’s burned. How you rebuild the party after this fire is up to you, but if you don’t take heed and resolve the immigration problem, Republicans will never again be given the Presidency or the Senate.

  • Johan Rebel

    Much as a I fear Trump, voting for Hillary means the military-industrial NATO complex will carry on. Carry on with what? With a confrontation policy with Russia and to a lesser extent China. Instead of de-escalation these morons think they can win at backing Russia into a corner. Since I fear nuclear war more than anything else, continuing the insane neo-conservative policies of failed states, drone assassination terror, global war on terror narrative to justify anything, even genocide (whole Kurdish cities are being decimated because they are “terrorists” even though these cities existed before the Turks came ot Asia Minor), expansion of NATO threats on the Russian border. The result is that the Russians are expanding and modernizing their military, have instituted a tank army to penetrate NATO if attacked, and are developing all kinds of new missile technology and nuclear weapons. Both sides have changed their nuclear doctrine, making tactical nuclear possible on the battle field, and neither excludes the possibility of a first strike. It’s time to wake up. Times are more dangerous than at the height of the cold war when everybody was still convinced of M.A.D. and the need for adults to set priorities and de-escalate above all else. Wars start with brinkmanship and miscalculation.