Saturday, November 12, 2016

Picture and Words

National Review editor and writer Reihan Salam likens Donald Trump to Richard Nixon (though probably not in the way that first comes to your mind, dear reader):
Nixon would make peace with the New Deal and with activist government, having concluded that Goldwaterism was a dead end....Nixon believed that America had been betrayed by feckless, out-of-touch elites who had allowed the country to descend into chaos, and he effectively exploited both racial desegregation and crime as wedge issues. He promised to use the power of government on behalf of decent, law-abiding people—but not to dismantle the power of government.
(Reuters / WSJ graphic)
Reihan Salam evaluates major Republican figures over the last half-century across two dimensions: pro/anti-government and pro/anti-elite. Donald Trump and Richard Nixon are the only inhabitants of the pro-government, anti-elite quadrant.

2x2 matrices are both revealing and over-simplifications of reality. For example, Dwight Eisenhower was clearly pro-government in his sponsorship of "a vast network of highways and world-class research universities." However, Ike's most famous speech, his 1961 farewell address, cautioned against the dangers of big government (the military-industrial complex.)

Donald Trump has promoted border security and energy independence, both of which will indeed entail increases in spending.

In the Republican debate from last March Mr. Trump also said that he will reduce government, potentially by a lot:
As president, I will repeal every word of Obamacare. I will pull back the regulators that are killing small businesses.

And we will pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. [snip]

[I will cut] Department of Education. We're cutting Common Core. We're getting rid of Common Core. We're bringing education locally. Department of Environmental Protection. We are going to get rid are of it in almost every form. We're going to have little tidbits left but we're going to take a tremendous amount out.
Richard Nixon not only increased government spending but government's mission by creating the EPA and OSHA. If Donald Trump is to be believed, he will seek to remove some major functions. Let's see if Mr. Salam puts his picture in the same place in four years.

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