As voters in the Georgia 6th Congressional District head to the polls on Tuesday, most of the candidates vying for their votes are attempting to identify themselves in relation to the new Donald Trump administration. Indeed, many thought leaders define the philosophies of the candidates based upon whether they are adherents of “Trumpism.”
Trumpism is the new word that was introduced to the lexicon as a consequence of the political earthquake that struck the country last November. Interestingly, according to one writer in The Atlantic, “Trumpism existed long before Donald Trump ever strode across the political stage.” The same writer explained Trumpism as follows:
The Brexit vote and the emergence of the Finns Party are both examples of the rise of Trumpism, a brew of nationalist, populist, anti-establishment, anti-“expert,” anti-globalist, protectionist, “us versus them,” and most of all, anti-immigrant sentiment. Nativist and anti-immigrant parties have arisen across Europe, including the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Jobbik party in Hungary, the Danish People’s Party, the Sweden Democrats, and the Progress Party in Norway.
Source: Dominic Tierney, “The Global Spread of Trumpism,” The Atlantic, July 19, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/07/trump-brexit-far-right/491786/
I am sure the new president would be surprised to learn that Trumpism pre-dated him and has so many non-American influences. Such are the perils of allowing your adversaries to define you.
As for me, rather than using a label as a device to conflate an opposing political perspective with fascism and evil, I would prefer to understand if there is a coherent political philosophy that binds together various policy initiatives of the current administration— principles that emerge from certain core values.
The central unifying principle of candidate Trump’s campaign (other than the general plan to make everything “terrific”) was to do that which places America’s interests ahead of all other priorities and to “make America great again.” The question then becomes whether the policies articulated by the Trump administration serve those principles. It appears that the Trump policies that have drawn the most criticism involve immigration.
While it is true that Trump’s positions appear at first glance to be “anti-immigrant,” a more thoughtful analysis suggests otherwise—or, at least, suggests that they are not motivated by enmity for immigrants. Instead, the policies tend to fall into one of two categories: anti-illegal immigration and restricting immigration in a manner intended to serve the interests of domestic workers.
Trump’s anti-illegal immigration plan includes: tripling the number of ICE officers; implementing nationwide e-verify; mandatory return of all criminal aliens; detention—not catch-and-release; defunding sanctuary cities; enhancing penalties for overstaying a visa; cooperating with local gang task forces; ending birthright citizenship; and building a wall on the Southern border. During the campaign, I searched Trump’s web site for any mention of rounding up 10-12 million resident illegals and shipping them home but could not find that as a stated policy.
I cannot identify any of the referenced measures as being fascist, racist, or anti-legal immigrant. Indeed, these policies are only fascist, racist and anti-immigrant to the extent that our current laws can be so described. Trump’s proposed policies are merely strategies for implementing and actually enforcing current law— many of which were the product of Democratic congresses. The exception to that generalization is the idea of ending birthright citizenship, although that does not appear to be a terribly controversial idea, as many Democrats support the idea as well.
As for legal immigrants, again the Trump policies appear to be surprisingly sensible and tame. They include: (i) Increasing prevailing wages for H-1B visa holders and warning applicants for such visas not to abuse the system, lest they suffer severe penalties. This will make domestic tech-workers price-competitive with their foreign counterparts. (Dems are in favor of a higher minimum wage generally. So, what is the problem with this?); (ii) Requiring US companies to hire American workers first; (iii) Ending welfare abuse. We should not be importing people to be on the dole. (Is there anyone who disagrees with this?); (iv) Jobs program for inner city youth by which the J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all subscribers of to the J-1 visa program; (v) Pausing the issuance of any new green cards issued to foreign workers and requiring employers to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This idea ignores that there may be some needs in some places that cannot be filled by the available labor pool, but the policy could be tweaked if that issue arose.
So, is there a legitimate reason for the media to have invented the concept of Trumpism— particularly given their admission that the populist notions that undergird it pre-date Trump? Probably not. But, as it is with most new administrations, the vanquished will always find something to complain about—sensible or not, and the media will find labels to attach to those issues. So, those who oppose Trump will conjure up every vile concept they can imagine, put it in a single box, and put his name on it. A fair-minded and dispassionate evaluation of Trump’s policies disclose that they are, though often camouflaged by bombast and bluster, generally fairly sensible and tame. So, if the president is a fascist or racist, his policies hide it well.
The recognition of the foregoing explains why so many of the candidates in the 6th district race are attaching their names to “Trumpism”— the horror of CNN and MSNBC notwithstanding, and why the 6th district is highly likely to remain a red district following an inevitable June runoff. Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff may have millions of dollars to spend, but he is spending them in the wrong district. He should consider being John Lewis’ successor.