Politics & Policy

On Economic and Social Issues, Trump Is No Conservative

Trump on the stump in Iowa in November. (Scott Olson/Getty)

It’s time to face the facts after last night’s debate, and two weeks out from when the voting begins in Iowa: Either Trump or Cruz is going to be the GOP nominee, and if Cruz loses Iowa as a result of Trump’s birther attacks on him, Trump will most likely be the nominee.

Rubio? Where does Rubio win? He’s polling 12 percent nationally, and about the same in the latest Iowa and New Hampshire polls. If Trump wins Iowa, is Rubio going to beat him in New Hampshire? The one outside shot is that a Trump loss in Iowa somehow damages Trump in New Hampshire, allowing Rubio to pull ahead. But New Hampshire typically ignores Iowa.

Right now Trump is pulling ahead in Iowa, according to the latest Gravis poll. It may be an outlier, but the poll taken January 11 and 12 shows Cruz holding steady with 28 percent of the vote, Rubio collapsing to 5 percent, and Trump surging to 34 percent.

Why does that make me unhappy? It is not because I believe that Trump will obviously lose to Hillary Clinton. I do think Trump would lose to Bernie Sanders, who is fighting to get the respect he deserves against a very weak Democratic front-runner, as he is locked in his own narrow battle to win Iowa and then New Hampshire. But Hillary versus Trump would be a race between the ultimate unattractive and inauthentic establishment candidate versus an authentic, in-your-face outsider, and politically, I think Trump would destroy Hillary. I have never disrespected or misunderestimated Trump. I have never believed he’s a clown or a fool or any of the other silly criticisms thrown his way by an establishment that cannot believe the message voters are telling them about their disgust with both parties in Washington.

So what’s the problem with Trump?

For me, two big things.

I see no signs in his talk or in his biography that Trump understands how to unleash economic growth that helps the middle class.

I see no signs in his talk or in his biography that Trump understands how to unleash economic growth that helps the middle class. Yes, he’s a very successful businessman. Trump learned early the power of media to make a brand, and he has milked it to a putative net worth of billions. He has benefited from the least productive and inventive sector of the economy — the real-estate market — and he did so in key instances by getting government handouts in the form of tax incentives and loans. The Art of the Deal is a very instructive book on how Trump made it big — give ’em the old New York razzle-dazzle and a kid from Queens, with political connections borrowed from his wealthy builder dad, can make it really, really big. Unlike his dad, who went home every night to his mother, Trump picked up Manhattan values along the way.

#share#What has been happening to America in the past decade is a regulatory strangle of investment combined with a sweetheart deal in which the government guarantees that the Wall Street banks make money while taxpayers assume their risks. It’s not the Chinese who are killing us, much less the Mexican immigrants. Trump can get elected scapegoating these forces, but he cannot deliver a vigorous growing economy. That is the great crisis we face to the American dream, and Trump is not the guy to deliver a growing vigorous economy that gives opportunity to Main Street.

Trump has flatly refused to prioritize protecting religious liberty from the Left.

Here’s my second problem with Donald Trump: He has flatly refused to prioritize protecting religious liberty from the Left.  President Obama is putting in place the regulatory structure to redefine opposition to gay marriage as the equivalent of bigotry. Public schools are now being threatened with loss of funding if they do not permit transgendered biological males to shower with teenage girls. And that is just the beginning. His Justice Department is entering into consent agreements with private religious schools, forcing them to hire gay married employees on an equal basis. Trump knows well the power of the gay Left — he personally felt the heat when he at first refused to fire Carrie Prejean, the Miss California who simply said she supported opposite-sex marriage, as 7 million other Californians did who voted for Proposition 8.

#related#Almost half of Iowa GOP caucus-goers have said they want a candidate who will disrupt government as usual. Look, if ending illegal immigration is your most important issue, I guess I can understand why you might, like Ann Coulter, go Trump all the way.

But on the two issues of greatest importance to the future of the country — ending the sweetheart Wall Street regulatory deals that restrict economic growth and opportunity, and protecting gay-marriage dissenters from being treated by our own government like racists and bigots — Trump has shown he is not the guy to disrupt business as usual.

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