Joseph Cotto, 3/22/2016 [Archive]

Trump and the Death of Reaganomics

By Joseph Cotto

Donald Trump is well on his way to clenching victory from the jaws of Republican defeatism. Naturally, GOPers accustomed to losing at the polls, in the court of public opinion, or even among the party rank-and-file, are dismayed.

Some are making serious noises about a third party bid. Call it the Losing Ticket. I offer these folks the same advice given to libertarian partisans who coalesced around Gary Johnson during the 2012 election.

Before criticizing libertarians too much, it must be said that, generally speaking, they care about the size of government because they care about the American public. They support candidates who go up against all odds because they truly believe in libertarian ideals. They argue seemingly obscure points because these are considered vital to the future of our country.

That being noted, libertarians are often so ideological that they seldom see the forest through the trees.

Of course, such a thing can be a tremendous problem. Especially in an election season like 2012, when the polls swayed back and forth. In the run-up to November, every vote seemed absolutely vital. On at least fifty percent of the issues, any given libertarian probably disagreed with President Obama quite strongly.

The same could not be said about Mitt Romney.

Many libertarians, specifically those who supported Ron Paul, were nonetheless unhappy with the former Massachusetts governor — and for good reason. Romney was characteristically snotty toward Paul going back to 2008, which says nothing of Mitt's stooges trying to block Ron's backers at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

However, this did not change the immutable fact that only one of two people had a serious chance at winning the presidency. Gary Johnson was not one of them.

Not even close.

Voting for someone who has no chance of winning makes no sense. It is apparent that Johnson's supporters were casting their ballots for him on the basis of emotion and nothing more.

While emotions surely are a driving force in politics, they can only carry a campaign so far.

A reasonable plan for libertarians was to support Romney and continue their work on building a liberty-oriented coalition inside the Republican Party. Like it or not, America is a partisan duopoly.

If libertarians wanted to build their philosophy into a formidable political force, then they should have understood the rules of the game. Wishing our nation's partisan norms away would not help the situation a single iota.

Libertarians pursuing their pipe dream of a viable third party has left them in the shadows of America's body politic. It did not have to be this way, of course. The Republican Party, after years of being dominated by relentless neoconservatives and their theoconservative counterparts, was more than ready for a change.

The only question was if libertarians would accept the challenge.

As time tells, they did not. Instead, Trump harnessed the discontent over neocon and theocon destruction, then proceeded to rebrand the GOP. His spirit is the hybrid of Nelson Rockefeller and William McKinley, which means athe emerging Republican consensus will be moderately nationalistic.

Even moderate nationalism, with its focus on tariffs promoting and protecting domestic industry, is bad for a man like Mitt. Romney built his career in corporate liquidation; purchasing struggling companies at fire sale prices and selling their assets for tidy sums.

Romney prospered, and likely continues to via capital gains, because free trade ran proud businesses into the ground. Those companies that could be 'saved' were often outsourced in part or whole to low-wage foreign markets. Goods manufactured by them could be imported here without serious — if any — duty fees.

No surprise that Mitt is the Donald's foremost intraparty enemy. Those in Romney's column should remember that dreams of third party success always become nightmares — at least if winning an election is the goal.

Even if one seeks to lose a race but use campaign season to influence public policy, the libertarian saga offers harsh lessons. Anti-Trump, or more accurately anti-protectionist, GOPers should realize that voters are tired of lower wages, longer hours, and less opportunity for future generations.

The days of Reaganomics are over. Using the Gary Johnson strategy to bring them back means a libertarian-style 'victory'.

——-

Copyright 2016 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

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