THE GREAT SOUL-SUCKING: Republicans Embrace Big Government, Revenge Politics, and Corruption


Earlier in this election cycle, I wrote that the problem with Donald Trump would be the perversion of conservatism into Trumpism. Here’s how I put it at National Review:

Barack Obama has taken America toward a cliff at 100 mph; Hillary will press the accelerator further, so that we’ll be moving at 120 mph; Trump would presumably press the accelerator only slightly, so that we’d be cruising toward that cliff at 110 mph. The difference: Trump will force his conservative passengers to rip out the reverse gear in order to justify him. Conservatism will become Trumpism. Conservatives will prioritize winning over truth….Trump asks for something more – your political soul.

There was ample evidence during the election that this would happen; with each new Trump heresy against decency and conservatism, conservatives solidified in their support of him rather than dropping away. As I detailed in September, Republicans had shifted their views on Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as well as on free trade in order to meet Trump.

That could at least be justified by pointing to the alternative – many conservatives felt they had to vote for Trump to stop Hillary. Presumably after the election, Republicans would hold Trump accountable to principle.

But now we’re post-election. Hillary’s no longer in the picture.

And the soul-sucking machine has grown stronger anyway.

Here are some rather disquieting poll results. Fully 57 percent of Republicans answered “agree” to the statement, “The free market has been sorting [the economy] out and America’s been losing.” 69 percent of Republicans say that it is acceptable for the president and vice president to “directly negotiate with private businesses,” which is definitional economic corporatism; 78 percent say they’re fine with Trump and Pence offering “tax breaks or incentives to individual companies to keep jobs in the US,” still more crony corporatism; 71 percent signed off on Trump and Pence offering government contracts to individual companies to keep jobs in the US, which is Obama-esque stimulus; 75 percent said they were fine with Trump and Pence negotiating with individual private companies on a case by case basis.

This is the destruction of free market allegiance in favor of economic tyranny, all because the person in office is named Trump, not Obama or Clinton. And Trump continues to push these messages – in his interview with Time, he called for more economic fascism as well as government “stimulus.” And Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), a fellow who opposes corporatism so much that he once campaigned against ethanol in Iowa, now says that the corrupt Carrier cramdown is wonderful: “I think the American people are gratified to have an incoming president, an incoming administration, that will fight to keep jobs here in America…”

As Jim Pethokoukis of American Enterprise Institute tweeted, “We’re all Keynesians now.”

But the soul-suck doesn’t stop there. Republicans are now embracing revenge politics, the notion that the president should use the executive branch to punish enemies. We still don’t know what prompted Trump to tweet out that he wanted to cancel the Air Force One contract with Boeing, but it’s a pretty solid theory that he saw negative comments about his trade policies from Boeing’s CEO. Here’s another theory from Rush Limbaugh: “Here’s the story of Boeing and the Clintons. In 2010, two months after Hillary went to Moscow to broker a $3.7 billion trade deal with Russia, Boeing announced a $900,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation…Trump is very much aware of all this.” This used to be considered bad politics, bad policy, and bad morality. But not anymore.

Finally, appearance of corruption appears to be hunky-dory, so long as the name is Trump and not Clinton. During the campaign, Republicans ripped up Hillary Clinton for her corrupt ties to the Clinton Foundation while serving as Secretary of State. But now the new president-elect has serious business ties to multiple countries around the world through his businesses, and that’s no big deal – here’s Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI): “This is not what I’m concerned about in Congress.” How convenient.

If you’re a sports fan, such thinking isn’t foreign. I’m a White Sox fan, and I remember hating former catcher A.J. Pierzynski when he was on the Minnesota Twins – but I loved him when he was on the Sox. He was willing to break every rule, to do anything to win. It was awesome.

Politics isn’t sports. Principles still matter, since what we demand of our government isn’t some vague definition of “winning,” but that the government not invade our rights. If we change our demands based on the person in office, we’ll end up with a government that merely shifts between tyrants approved by Republicans and tyrants approved by Democrats. The tyranny won’t stop.