I have gotten a blizzard (!) of e-mails over the past day or so, along with several comments here at Cafe Hayek and on Facebook, expressing support for Donald Trump on the following grounds: ‘He’s better than any Democrat.’
I disagree. I would much prefer a Pres. Sanders or a Pres. O’Malley than Trump. (I’m less certain about a Pres. H. Clinton, but I think that I’d even prefer a Pres. H. Clinton to a Pres. Trump.) My reasons are two:
(1) As one sensible commenter (I forget who) said, with any of the three Democrats we pretty much know what we’ll get; with Trump, there is no such knowledge. And while what we’ll get with any of the three Democrats will indeed be bad, I can imagine even worse coming from someone such as Trump.
(2) More importantly, whatever policies are implemented by a Pres. Sanders, a Pres. O’Malley, or a Pres. H. Clinton will be (correctly) understood by most people today, and by history, to be anti-free-market policies, yet whatever policies are implemented by a Pres. Trump will be (incorrectly) understood today, and by history, to be “free-market” policies. The market would be at least as heavily loaded with obstacles and restrictions by Pres. Trump as it would by any Pres. Democrat (and come packaged in wholly disgusting, illiberal language), yet the resulting failures would be blamed on the market, rather than on government interventions, because Trump is mistakenly seen to be somehow more friendly to free markets than are any of the three Democrats.
In the same way that many people to this day mistakenly think of Hitler and Mussolini as having been kinda, sorta pro-market (because they were explicitly “anti-communist,” because we call them “conservative,” and because they were not as unequivocally anti-business as were the communists of their era), people will mistake a Pres. Trump’s anti-market policies as pro-market ones – and, again, mistakenly blame the resulting calamities on the market. And future generations will too likely be misled to reject free markets because they mistakenly are taught to believe that Pres. Trump’s policies were free market.
UPDATE: A Facebook comment by my friend, the wise historian David Beito, prompts me to state, in this Update, more clearly that I really mean by this post: “Any Democrat Over Trump.” Trump vs. Democrat is what I had in mind, rather than Trump vs. Some Other GOPer. How I assess that battle, I do not know beyond saying that I’d certainly prefer Rand Paul above all, and would find acceptable (given the sorry choices) John Kasich. We are in the political Twilight Zone.