Note: As the title suggests, I have donated to the Trump campaign.
Also note: I was going to post this over the weekend, but since the goal is to try and help unify the party behind whomever wins I did not want to be seen as trying to sway votes and decided not to post until after polls closed. However, I also did not go back and change the timeline as originally written.
Everyone likes dessert – unless it’s maja blanca. But like our parents have all told us at one point, you have to eat your vegetables if you want to have any dessert. So we eat our vegetables. While we may whine and complain, in truth the vegetables aren’t that bad. Unless it’s green peas. Maja blanca and green peas have one thing in common. When you commit and actually bite they are a mushy slime. So what does this have to do with Trump? You’ll see.
I am all in on Trump, but David is right. Rubio is the best candidate for the current spectrum of Republicans. And I was going to vote for him until last weekend. I’m getting married next week and as a part of the wedding preparation we had to go to a retreat and the guys and girls were separated into college style dorms and I was with a Trump supporter. Before the weekend I didn’t know anyone who supported Trump openly. But this guy did and we had a looooong discussion about politics. Very civil, very courteous, and issue focused with none of the name calling or talking points that seems to dominate current political discourse, but actual substantive discussion. That was the first time Trump became a possibility, and after contemplating for a week on Friday I took the plunge and voted for and donated to Trump. I am not trying to convince anyone to vote for or against him. Rather, this is a journey through the reasoning that pulled me off of the Rubio camp and into firm support for Trump. Hopefully this will lead to an understanding of how a social conservative can go all in for Trump in the spirit of let’s get away from being brash and bombastic and come to an understanding of each other so we can rally behind our nominee whoever it may be.
For structure, the winding path of reasoning will be clumped together into short term benefit (vegetables), long term benefits (dessert), and checks on the concerns which initially lead me to think Trump was not a good choice.
I. Short term benefit
A. Trump Opens a new path to victory
The democrats start with a substantial lead on the path to 270. If you look at states (not counting the Maine and Nebraska CD) that have voted the same way since 2000 the tally starts with D 242 R 180 (179 if you peel off the Nebraska CD, but redistricting has made it a safe R vote again.)
The “L” strategy of George W. Bush for capturing the White House is no longer viable. For those who don’t know the “L” strategy it’s the path to 270 electoral college votes that calls for winning states in an L shape mountain west-great plains as the vertical segment and the south as the horizontal segment + Ohio. It’s a close path, with not much room for error. It worked, albeit barely, for Bush both times, once without capturing the popular vote. But that strategy doesn’t appear viable any more. Florida, Virginia, Ohio are all swing states that can go either way any given election on the horizontal segment. Colorado and New Mexico can go either way in the vertical segment. There’s not many states elsewhere that are in play. Iowa, New Hampshire, and to a lesser extent Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. There’s not much room for recapturing the states that fall in the L strategy. In order to have a realistic chance to win the White House a new path to victory is needed.
Trump provides that path by bringing in a group of voters who have not voted republican before. Republican primary turnout is up with a corresponding drop in democrat primary turnout. This suggests that democrat voters are crossing over to vote in the republican primary. The question is who are the voters crossing over. Only time will tell, but likely it’s blue collar workers who are supporting Trump that otherwise would vote democrat because of union support (or sympathy.) Not only is it blue collar workers, but it’s also authoritarian voters. This means there’s not only an influx of voters, but they are strongly loyal and likely to stick with Trump in the general election. This tilts Ohio to the right, and also makes Pennsylvania a very realistic state to go red. Virginia and Colorado also become more likely to go Republican.
But what about the polls? Doesn’t Real Clear Politics show Clinton leading Trump in a head to head matchup. Yes, but remember the election is won in the electoral college, not by popular vote. Looking at competitive states Trump leads in Ohio. He’s tied in Pennsylvania. He leads in Florida. This leaves him in good position to take the election. Clinton wins big where she wins, but Trump wins the close races where it matters.
B. Coattails are important too
Just as importantly, the coattails help with competitive House and Senate races. Although it’s unlikely the democrats could take the House, the Senate is up for grabs. Right now it’s entirely possible we could net -4 seats making the Senate a 50/50 split again. Having a majority in the Senate is crucial with the next President filling the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. For the social conservatives this is at least as important as the Presidency as will be discussed below.
Not only at the federal level, but the state level is also important. Twelve governors seats are up, 8 democrat and 4 republican. It’s a good year to pick up even more seats since five of the democrat seats will be open to only one republican seat. Not only that, polling suggests that possibly three seats will switch democrat to republican. Missouri and West Virginia are in the potential republican gain so the voters Trump is getting to cross over can have significant outcome as they normally would vote democrat.
II. Long term benefit
I believe in our core principles, and that’s why Trump is so appealing. As discussed above he brings in new voters, and this gives us an opportunity to bring the new voters into the tent. Once they are in the tent it’s up to us to explain our beliefs and reasoning to the influx of new voters. This could be land a heavy blow to the democrats. Although the new voters are not historically predisposed to vote with us, they are better off under our fiscal policy. Blue collar workers prosper in an expanding economy when jobs are plentiful.
A. Fiscal Prosperity
First and foremost Trump is a business man and will attempt to enact policies to revive the economy. The Trump plan for dealing with China will help to reduce the artificial advantages China gives it’s industry. Simply declaring China a currency manipulator will help by strengthening the Yuan against the dollar.
Now, let’s be clear – every country manipulates their economy via the central government. If China wanted to declare us to engage in interest rate manipulation they are correct. We manipulate interest rates to regulate our economy. China manipulates the Yuan. It’s a legitimate exercise of government function. However by artificially lowering the value of the Yuan we are harmed in two ways. First, the weak Yuan serves to act as an artificial tariff to our products overseas. By artificially devaluing the Yuan our goods are more expensive and experts drop. This decreased demand means there’s fewer jobs since not as much supply is needed. Increasing exports helps the new members to our big tent.
Second, an artificially weak Yuan serves to hurt the value of the exports sold. Every time someone buys a Coke in China the exchange rate dictates how much value Coke receives from the transaction. An artificially lowered Yuan means each unit sold produces less value for Coke and the profit margin shrinks. This leaves the company less profitable, and in turns leaves less free cash flow to spend on capital replenishment/upgrades. In the end, the currency manipulation directly lowers jobs by reducing demand, and also indirectly lowers jobs by reducing free cash flow and the secondary jobs are also endangered because the capital improvement is delayed. Aside from the job impacts, a declaration of currency manipulation will make China more willing to address the issues raised as WTO violations. Even if the WTO doesn’t act, the threat of sanctions can serve to address the other economic inequities as it is an easy route for concession by China to avoid the sanctions associated with the declaration.
Lowering corporate income taxes may help to stimulate the economy, but it’s less likely to have a direct effect. Corporate flight to avoid taxation does have some marginal associated local economic impacts as the corporate headquarter staff transfers and there’s some secondary loss of support jobs. However, the intriguing aspect comes in the potential generation of a new class of businesses. Recent history shows that a lower paying class of blue collar jobs is viable. Workers in Detroit make $40/hour building vehicles. The same jobs pay $25/hour to build Toyota vehicles. Insignia 40 inch televisions sell for $279, but the Sony and Samsung brands sell for $379 and $399. Business friendly economic policies allow for continued growth in this new model of jobs where the pay is lower, but the product cost is lower. This helps ensure the continued economic well being of the new influx of voters. It’s not the highest paying jobs, but it’s livable wages. The growth is a product of the free market at work rather than government mandates.
B. Social Values
Social values are also a fertile ground to help bring the new Trump voters firmly into the big tent. Although abortion, religious freedom, and homosexual activity (which has become largely intertwined with religious freedom) are the big issues in the social conservative movement there’s plenty of other room to be active on social activities. Who opposes pregnancy crisis centers? It’s the left, not us. Most reasonable minded individuals don’t object to helping out an expectant mother in a crisis pregnancy. Let’s suppose the new voters don’t want to take a position on abortion. Well, how about helping volunteer or fund raise for a crisis pregnancy center? Not your cup of tea? Okay, how about helping stock the shelves at a local food pantry? Or helping to organize a nonperishable food drive to be donated to a food bank? Helping feed the hungry is a Corporal Work of Mercy and firmly within the realm of social conservative values.
The good that flows from the charitable activity is the main reason to do any act of charity. However, by engaging in activity that is not the face of the social conservative movement the second order benefits can go a long way to integrating the new voters into our camp. As an initial matter, the charitable activates described help debunk the argument used to paint us as only concerned about the unborn. We don’t have to go about promoting ourselves. All we need to do is to continue to organize and work in these other aspects of charity and invite the new voters to come along with us. They see that we are helping everyone out rather than just focusing on the unborn. This also makes the cause personal. When someone commits to an action they’re more likely to stay involved, and more difficult to knock off point. Not only have we increased the overall good that we do, but have done so in a manner that makes our party fundamentally more welcoming and sound.
From there, it’s an easy jump to initiate action that can have policy difference. Hey Joe, would you mind calling your state rep and ask him to support a bill to have doctors warn newly pregnant mothers about the dangers of fetal alcohol syndrome? We’re not asking for mothers not to drink, only that they be advised of the potential dangers. Very noncontroversial, and a cause that we should all agree with. Once they pick up the phone both the good of the action flows as well as the psychological involvement increases. By taking the normal course of action we have already taken we have both done an actionable good as well as further enmeshed the new voters into our party.
III. Checks on Concerns
Now some still may be wondering how can a social conservative vote for Trump. Sure, you’ve given some good reasons as to why this may not be the disaster that’s being predicted by the establishment, but won’t your own causes be harmed? Are you really willing to sacrifice your own ideals for the good of the party? Won’t that do long term damage if the focus of the party shifts to fiscal issues?
A. This isn’t 2008
Certainly this is a risk, but mitigating factors are in place to keep the risk level lower than it appears at first blush. As an initial matter, we are in a fundamentally different situation than when President Obama swept into office. After the election the balance of power was 59 D 41 R. Then Arlen Specter switched parties and suddenly the democrats not only controlled the Senate, but did so at a 60-40 split meaning the chamber was filibuster proof. For a two year period, the democrats held the White House, House, and Senate by a filibuster proof margin. That was bleak times for our party, and actions that otherwise couldn’t have happened, like Obamacare, were able to be pushed through. Just from a fundamental government functioning standpoint the government is more republican and action isn’t the concern. The House and Senate simply won’t pass legislation that is significantly detrimental to social conservative causes. Government inaction may be a problem, such as not taking steps to defund Planned Parenthood or executive actions to protect religious freedoms at the fringes of RFRA, but these are better categorized as unrealized potential gains than outright harms.
B. Social Conservative Issues are Won at the Statehouse and Courthouse, not the White House
Outside of RFRA, the bulk of social conservative legislation is generated at the state level and challenged in the judicial system. This means that the Supreme Court Justice that replaces the late Justice Scalia is the biggest issue facing social conservatives this election. A liberal instrumentalist, or for that matter a liberal Holmesian is going to set back social conservatives for at least a decade. Five solidly liberal votes on the Court and we lose at the courthouse. Time after time after time. It’s not only do we lose, but liberal states are emboldened and they can pass legislation that survives judicial challenge and actively move the law to be more hostile toward social conservative issues. Quite simply the new Justice will set the environment. It’s an issue we must win.
What type of nominee will Trump send forth if he’s elected? We don’t know. However, let’s look at who he is to glean some ideas. Regardless of his beliefs on prolife or other social issues he is a businessman. As such, he’s more likely than not to put forth a nominee who will protect business interests. How would such an individual impact social conservative issues? Likely very favorably. Businesses are very concerned with the exercise of power in the Commerce Clause for that’s how Congress and state legislatures regulate business activities. The Commerce Clause, and the associated Wickard Aggregation Principle, are enabling. Essentially this is the method that empowers regulation and can be used to create significant business difficulties by restricting activities. Since this is enabling, liberal states or a liberal administration can enact policies that are very progressive or socialist and would have the legal authority to do so. The counter to the Commerce Clause if the Bill of Rights. Unlike the Commerce Clause, the Bill of Rights are checks of government power.
The nominee that Trump is more likely to put forth is going to be a strong defender of the Bill of Rights because they are the checks on government power. Such a nominee may be put forth for business reasons, but the social movement benefits because such a nominee will also hold positions that are supportive of the First Amendment. Sure, a thorough and diligent search could produce a nominee that is both a strong believer in defending the Bill of Rights, but also is a social liberal. However, that’s not likely because 1) it would take more work to find and vet a nominee who had that peculiar belief set and 2) a conservative nominee that protects both business and social conservative views is a simple way to assure social conservatives the Trump administration isn’t hostile to their causes. It’s both easier to find such a candidate and a simple way to bolster the relationships with social conservatives making it more likely a good nominee will be sent to the Senate. A good nominee is what we need, be it by intent or by side effect. Even if the reasoning for a friendly nominee is one that is business focused a win is a win.
IV. Peas and Maja Blanca
In the end, we need to rally around the candidate we nominate. Hopefully this helps the anyone but Trump camp to see how he may not be the disaster the establishment is predicting. I am not trying to persuade anyone here. The purpose is to show how it’s not as bad as the doomsday preachers are heralding. Take a long look at what Trump is by his actions. It’s not peas, maybe broccoli or undercooked carrots, but not peas. When the dust settles, if Trump really is those abhorrent green peas then by all means, hold true to your beliefs.
Also look at the influx of voters that are crossing into our camp. Are they maja blanca? Or is it something else that’s new, but not that bad? If you believe that the influx of voters are maja blanca then by all means, stand firm. In the end, we all have to look at the mirror and be comfortable with the reflection we see. The best we can do is act on what we think creates the best overall good and soldier on. Just be civil with each other, disagree without being disagreeable. We’re at a potential pivot point in the course of our party. Don’t bomb the bridges that are being built unless you believe the overall harm from the bridges outweighs the overall good that can come from them. November is a long time away, we all need to take a step back and find a way to get along.