Should Libertarians be celebrating the election of ostensibly the most pro-freedom president this country has seen since Reagan? I argue that premature celebrating may harm our ideology’s long-term credibility if the new President fulfills the role his supports only partially facetiously refer to him as: the god-emperor.
Many former Ron Paul supporters voted for Trump, the question now is whether current indicators validate this choice. Does it seem as though Trump will actually be the right choice for decentralization, property rights, monetary sanity, and non-interventionism? I will be the first to admit it is exceedingly hasty to be making definitive statements about the quality of the presidency we are now subject to. Therefore, as with government always, we should approach it with at least caution, if not heavy skepticism.
I am, like most in our movement, celebrating the imminent slashing of funding to the UN, the temporary end of our tax dollars funding abortions and their providers, as well as cuts to useless organizations like the EPA and any publicly funded arts programs, among many other victories for individual freedom and property rights. Yet the unfortunate reality is that much of this excitement stems from sentiments not rooted in our deeply political-revisionist philosophy. These are not major changes that will fundamentally decentralize our government and return power to the people; these are the acts of a typical Republican.
Remember that George W. Bush also issued several major theft reductions during his first term. He went as far as to attempt to privatize social security at one point, yet he is no libertarian hero. Even Obama slashed millions in Federal expenditures within his first 100 days in office. If Trump were serious about reducing the theft he spends, he would have already used his position as Commander in Chief to significantly reduce our global presence by closing down some of the over 100 military bases we have around the globe.
The only people who see what Trump has done, and to a large part what he is proposing, as being radical and substantial, are the same liberals who thought that the sequester was devastating. If we perpetuate their narrative that these cuts are in any way significant, realizing substantial reductions in federal spending and taxing will only become more difficult and be met with more resistance.
I am not displeased with these Trump cuts in the slightest; on the contrary I am very excited and hopeful that it is indicative of more to come. Yet these nominal reductions are not a cause for celebration. Resting on the laurels of this minor victory will only serve us defeat. Instead, now is the time to demand extensive reductions to spending in areas such as military and welfare, both of which Trump has indicated his intention to expand. This is an ideology rooted in strength of principle. Accepting compromise and partial victories is for the weak, not for the individualist.
We cannot remain intellectually consistent and pretend to be excited by a torture promoter who will bring back CIA black-sites in tandem with the NDAA, and who wants to see whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden killed for their service. A President who would send in agents of the federal government to a major city to reduce its murder rate and use them to spy on his own citizens is a ruler who sees the citizenry as a potential enemy, and is no friend to liberty. The culture war is not to be won by an institution of theft and slavery; it is to be won by us, the individuals.
Our president has shown little interest in reducing spending where it counts and has shown much interest in reducing liberty were it hurts the most. We have seen victories, but one reduction for every two encroachments is not a strategy that anyone from constitutionalists to voluntaryists should embrace. As libertarians we cannot afford to forget that the enemy is monopolized power, even if it deems it beneficial to issue token reductions. We must not lose sight of its inherently immoral nature. Trump is not continuing the legacy of Ron Paul. Despite where many of his supporters placed their trust, he is by all accounts a continuation of the Republican system of high spending, high intrusion, and murders overseas.
Let us not forget our goals in light of recent nominal victories. The fight to de-globalize our military and reduce the theft and spending of the feds is far from over.