Whether it is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump who stands on the steps of the Capital Building in Washington, D.C in January 2017 to take the oath of office as president of the United States, all public opinion polls suggest that that person will have among the highest unfavorable ratings for anyone beginning their time in the White House.
According to an Associated Press poll taken in early July 2016, fifty-seven percent view Clinton unfavorably and only 37 percent favorably. Sixty-three percent hold an unfavorable view of Trump, and only 31 percent are favorable. Of those planning to vote for either Clinton or Trump, only 26 percent, respectively, said they would be positively “excited” if their candidate wins. Plus, three quarters of prospective voters in the poll declared that they were making their decision based upon whom they wanted to vote against.
If there was an option on the ballot box that enabled voters to choose “None of the Above,” for president in this election year, it very will might be the case that that option would receive either a plurality or maybe even a majority. That may be why come November the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, well likely receive the largest number of votes that the LP has every won in a presidential election. Not because a large number of voters either understand or agree with libertarian political philosophy or public policy views, but as a protest against the alternatives that are being offered to the American public by the Democratic and Republican Parties.
Clinton and Trump are Really Cut from the Same Political Cloth
The fact is both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent variations on the same political theme: the interventionist-welfare state, only applied in different ways as they pander to different coalitions of special interest and ideological groups among the American electorate.
Both are promising people various things for nothing. Free or heavily subsidized college tuition in Clinton’s case and a “beautiful” and “huge” wall on the Mexican border in Trump’s case, for instance. Both promise “jobs” that are good paying and secure from the realities of an expanding global economy of change and innovation. They both assure that they will make American safe and “great” again, though the policies to do so vary in terms precisely on how this will come about.
Even where they seem to differ, their planned policy tools are the same. Trump will use governmental power to keep people out of the United States that are viewed as a threat to America; Clinton will use governmental power to force people to associate and interact who might not voluntarily wish or choose to. The common denominator is political coercion to micro-manage patterns of human association and relationships.
Both will punish and penalize people’s choices in the marketplace through fiscal and regulatory tools at the disposal of the federal government. Clinton will try to implement changes in the tax code to bring about her definition of greater economic equality for designated groups, while at the same time not rocking the financial boat of the Wall Street crony capitalists who love to pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars for lunchtime chitchats.
Trump promises to use those fiscal and regulatory tools to bludgeon U.S companies that attempt to do more of their business in other parts of the world, and force other American enterprises already operating parts of their manufacturing activities in foreign countries to come back to the United States.
Clinton and Trump are Both Global Interventionists
Both are interventionist foreign policy activists. Clinton has worked hard to sooth the concerns and fears of the foreign affairs “establishment” both at home and abroad that nothing will change under her watch in the White House. America will remain a “socially conscious” policeman of the world, intervening when necessary and called for, with the appropriate mix of political, economic and military involvement in the affairs of other countries in the world, and in partnership with U.S. allies.
Critics of Trump have attempted to paint him as an “isolationist” with his rhetoric of “America First.” But in fact he has made it clear that America will continue its presence around the globe; he just wants better “deals” about who pays for American meddling and the umbrella military cover for those countries and parts of the world that Trump defines as in America’s interests.
Both have made it clear that they have no hesitancy bringing American military force to bear, when they, respectively, deem it necessary to thwart what they consider to be “threats” or necessary regime changes in other lands viewed as important to U.S security and related interests.
Voters Horrified by a Political Paternalist Not of Their Liking
What apparently frightens different portions of the American electorate are the personality traits, respectively, possessed by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and a dislike for the way each promises to use governmental power compared to the other. A large majority of American voters, however, clearly accept the idea of government intervene in domestic social and economic affairs, and putting America’s military and political nose in other countries affairs as long as it’s for the “right” reason.
They just find undesirable how and for what the other presidential candidate would use political power. While a very large portion of the American electorate find the personalities of both Clinton and Trump highly unattractive, they just find the persona of one far more repulsive than the other; thus, the vast majority say they will pull the lever in the voting booth for the one whose stench is less obnoxious than the other.
The Entitlement Society versus a Free Society
What is lost in this contest of personalities and promised power uses is the more fundamental and essential issue of whether or not such political activism and interventionism should be the role of government in a free society.
Both Clinton and Trump are voices for the “entitlement” society. Selected and designated groups are “entitled” to redistribution of wealth, to jobs of certain types that pay “good wages,” and to particular social statuses and protections against the non-coercive actions of others.
In the American tradition from the time of the Declaration of Independence, the duty of government is to secure and protect the rights of each and every individual to their life, liberty and honestly acquired property. Every individual, as a human being, should be viewed as an autonomous, self-ruling and governing person who is at liberty to decide what will give meaning, purpose and happiness for their own lives. They are not to be coerced servants made to serve the ends of others, whether the others be a king and his entourage, or a voting majority demanding an individual’s compulsory service and sacrifice.
Each of us has only one life to live, and each individual should be respected in choosing to live it as he decides, even with all the regrets and disappointments along the way that are inescapable and part of being imperfect human beings in the imperfect world. Which one of us really wants to be a perpetual child taken by the hand and told what to do and with whom by a political parent who claims the authority to rule over our decisions and destines, great and small?
But that is what we implicitly consent to and deem to tolerate it when a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump declare what they will do for us, because government cannot do anything for us that does not at the same time involve having power to do things to us.
This is really what is behind the intensity of the hatred and revulsion by so many among the electorate against either Clinton or Trump. It seems frightening and unbearable that the one that is so disliked might win and possess the powers of the presidency, and make them then live in a society molded and imposed by the candidate they personally and politically cannot stand.
But this choice is confronting the American people precisely because it has come to be too much taken for granted that government is expected to have the responsibility and duty to use its power to bestow privileges and favors – “entitlements” – on some that others in society are expected to be pay for in terms of taxes and social and economic standing.
Limit Government, the Profile of Office Holders will Change
Would it matter as much if those in high political office were personally rude and crude if their authority and power went no further than enforcing and protecting people’s individual rights, rather than abusing and violating them for their own purposes and gain, and those of the special and ideological interests that put and keep them in power?
Indeed, if government had no authority to redistribute wealth or regulate social and marketplace relationships, it is highly unlikely that people like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would ever enter into politics because it would no longer be an arena to use for their own political and plundering purposes.
A limited government confined within the narrow responsibilities originally envisaged by most of the founding fathers in the Constitution as inspired by the Declaration of Independence would likely attract a far better class of people to run for political office. What a delightful prospect in light of what we are confronted with in this presidential election cycle!
Institutions and incentives greatly influence who steps forward to offer themselves to perform various tasks, and how and for what. A political system under which someone can run for high office and gain the authority to distribute benefits for some at the expense of others will attract “political entrepreneurs” with a comparative advantage in knowing how to manipulate the rhetoric and coalition-forming process to get elected, with promises of rewards for those who provide them the support to win.
A political system under which the lawful authority of those in political office goes no further than enforcing and protecting people’s rights to make their own choices and financially keep what they have peacefully and honestly earned in their market dealings with others for voluntary mutual gain, will draw a different type of person to run for office, someone more likely to value the importance of preserving and securing a society of human liberty.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the end a products – in terms of policies and personalities – of the American political plunder land that our democratic system has degenerated into when the role of government is transformed into a regime of political paternalism and power grabbing for wealth and social engineering of human relationships.
There is no escape from these types of candidates for political office such as the presidency of the United States until there begins to be a change forward to a vision of human freedom and peaceful and voluntary social and market relationships more consistent with the idea and ideal of the free and self-governing individual that inspired the founding of the American Republic.
Latest posts by Richard M. Ebeling (see all)
- Political Planning Requires Coercion; Market Planning Requires Cooperation - 2017.05.17
- Trade Deficits Are Only Dangerous When Caused By Government - 2017.05.16
- The Anti-Capitalist Counter-Revolution On College Campuses - 2017.05.14
- What Is a Government Worker Worth Without a Free Market? - 2017.05.14
- The New Left’s False History of Laissez-Faire Capitalism - 2017.04.24