John Kluge's honesty in tacitly admitting that he knew Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Bob Dole were not the best candidates for president when they ran in 2012, 2008 and 2004 respectively, and that he voted for them anyway just to keep the Left out of power, is kind of refreshing.
Not that I personally endorse it. I'd rather people cast principled votes for the candidates they believe most closely reflect their values than try to "game the system" by voting based on how they expect other people to vote.
But if the author feels his votes for Romney, McCain and Dole were excusable, why does he turn around and attack his fellow Republicans for operating in the same "pragmatic" fashion by trying to keep a candidate who would likely lose in a general election from getting the party's nomination? The Democrats would have to nominate someone like Al Sharpton in order for Trump to have a chance of appealing to enough swing voters to win – his negatives are just too high, and there are very good reasons for that.
To the extent that Donald Trump actually believes in anything besides Donald Trump, it appears to be nationalism. His vague "make America great again" rhetoric appeals to voters who are angry and frustrated, but too lazy to put that anger and frustration to effective political use; the part of the GOP base who, if they'd been Italians in the 1920s, would've gone for a "strong leader" like Mussolini who comes along with vague, feel-good promises to make the trains run on time; the jingoists who value a flag more than freedom, tolerating the latter only to the extent it correlates with what they perceive to be the interests of the particular geopolitical jurisdiction with which they identify (in most cases due to having accidentally been born there).
Never mind that freedom is the very lodestone on which the radicals of the late 18th century established the political jurisdiction that is the object of these nationalists' worship! Freedom, and the innate or universal – not nationalist – rights of man were the grounds upon which American secessionists championed the independence of that jurisdiction, and justified its existence to the world. It was belief in freedom more than any other value that brought disparate groups together two centuries later under the Republican banner in the "Reagan Revolution".
But Kluge is right about at least one thing: That banner has long hidden a schizophrenic conglomeration of overlapping but ultimately distinct and incompatible ideas and values. GOP presidential nominees like Romney, McCain, and Dole paid just enough lip service to freedom to hold the disparate Reagan coalition together, even if they didn't enlarge it enough to win.
Now "The Donald" who just a few years ago was donating money to Hilary Clinton in his values-free pursuit of "doing business" is tearing that coalition up. Personality-wise, Trump is like Ronald Reagan on steroids, but lacking the qualities that made Reagan more than a mere stuffed shirt – without the appreciation for free market thinkers like Hayek and Friedman, without the honestly held traditional values, without the sense of America as a beacon of freedom to refugees from tyranny, indeed apparently without seeing the United States as being about anything deeper than being on top, being #1 – leaving only a similarly made-for-Hollywood persona that in Trump's case draws not on the archetype of the self-reliant, freedom-loving cowboy-rancher, but upon an insatiable ego devouring everything in its path, figuratively replacing Reagan's vision of a "shining city on a hill" with a statue of himself.
John Kluge admits "Donald Trump is in favor of big government", and he says "I don't care." Was this guy really a conservative? He claims none of the other Republican contenders are for small government either, and there's some truth to that. But was he supporting Rand Paul before the Kentucky Senator dropped out? If not, then that rationale rings hollow. Now that he's apparently leaving the GOP, is he planning to vote for a Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate who is more serious about cutting government? Or is he planning to vote for Trump, who is not? Again he doesn't say. These omissions along with the overall thrust of his essay suggest he is mainly driven by nationalism and never really cared that much about freedom or small government in the first place.
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))