29 July 2016

An incomplete list of dumb ideas

An incomplete list of political positions Trump has taken that are morally reprehensible or stupid. More importantly, this list all contradicts common public perceptions. For example that he is "isolationist", "non-interventionist", "realist" on foreign policy. Or that the more common perception that he is "softer" on social issues than his Republican counterparts. How this is relevant when he is still far to the right of Democrats or libertarians is not clear. 
One can agree with some or any of these as policy agendas, but one should not be able to examine a list like this and come away with the interpretation that these are positions compatible with the above views. This should not also be taken as a complete list of Trump's dumb ideas (in my view) but rather a list which refutes certain common narratives which I see frequently expressed. His views on immigration more broadly and any number of other issues I take to be quite awful as well, but I would prefer to focus on stuff people haven't paid as much attention to or might take to be false if they have casually involved themselves on the subjects at hand. 
1 - Mercantilism motivates most of his trade and foreign policy positions. This was a discredited economic perspective over 200 years ago, involving zero sum competition and tariffs/protectionism rather than mutual cooperation and trade (a position which allows for more economic and social growth). Global trade and competition does involve winners and losers, but the "losers" are easily predictable ahead of time and could be accommodated through domestic policies. 
2- Colonialism motivates the remainder of foreign policy perspectives, the idea of taking over the strategically valuable territory or resources of a country if it is attacked or invaded. This is idiotic. Such resources are used or sold on open markets. So long as the country attacked or invaded is not attempting to impose export tariffs on the goods or resources it is capable of distributing abroad, it's virtually irrelevant to consumers where such things will come from. On economic grounds. People may have moral concerns about the government or non-state actors, but that's different from the economic viability of trade. In either event, naked conquest for the purpose of resource extraction or tribute extraction is an idea which was last common in the 19th century as European powers conquered Africa and SE Asia. 
3 - Opposes 14th amendment guarantee of birthright citizenship. This is not merely a statement about opposing "illegal immigration" but an effort to reduce legal migration and immigration by adding an additional step to provide for the guarantee of citizenship rights. There is a minority legal position that in any way the 14th amendment does not provide for birthright citizenship, but it does not appear to be held in mainstream legal theories or have clear legal precedence that could make this likely to be overturned. In fact most of his legal views are inscrutably bad, suggesting he has little or no familiarity with the legal and judicial system, or otherwise no idea what he is talking about where Constitutional concerns would arise. 
4 - Supported a government shutdown attempt over Planned Parenthood funding (last year). His views on abortion may have "evolved" but the belief that they are more socially liberal is based upon positions he held almost 2 decades ago. I would prefer to evaluate someone on the basis of what they now hold to be the case rather than what they implied when I was still in high school. 
5 - Stated women who receive abortions should have legal penalties. It was his first instinct to respond with the most aggressive possible legal sanctions. This was walked back, slowly. 
6 - Stated he would attempt to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. The list of judges that was leaked was viewed favorably by anti-choice groups for the likelihood of doing so.
7 - Buys into the "War on Christmas" narrative.
8 - Wants to abolish IRS rules on religious organisations and political campaigning.
9 - Supported NC House Bill 2, a bill removing LGBT anti-discrimination protections enacted by local governments. (He did change his mind on this, but he now supports it).
10 - Expressed same position on same sex marriage for over two decades. Which is that he does not support it. His supreme court short list included a number of anti-LGBT judges and he suggested after Obergefell that he would seek to overturn it.
11 - Suggests having the DoJ investigate Black Lives Matter protesters and organisations. In addition to other first amendment violations regarding freedom of the press; somehow expanding libel laws, attempting to bar disfavored reporters or media organs from covering his events, etc. 
12 - Mocked a reporter with a visible disability during a speech, suggesting no sympathy for people with physical maladies and disabilities. 
13 - Supports using stop and frisk searches (a highly questionable and probably unconstitutional practice of searching people without a clear Terry basis for a stop).
14 - Supports torture and capital punishment.
15 - Opposes legalisation of marijuana, and supports increasing enforcement efforts in the drug war
16 - Supported Iraq war and Libya, and generally supports the same policies as Clinton for Syria, and her pre-treaty positions for Iran. All of which are quite hawkish positions.
17 - Long history of deploying racist or fearmongering propaganda where it concerns Native Americans.
18 - Is fine with nuclear proliferation, which increases risks of very damaging military conflicts, which may or may not involve us, or nuclear terrorism (a fear which I would tend to ignore under ordinary circumstances). This is not a favorable non-interventionist position if it increases the danger or risk coming from foreign powers to an unacceptable degree. The purpose of non-interventionism is to get along with other nations on a neutral but friendly basis and thus reinforce acceptable international norms (things like "you don't need nuclear weapons" being among them). The point is not to increase the mayhem and chaos of the world but to engage with the world in a responsible manner. 
19 - Generally gives favorable approval of "strongman" behavior (Turkey's post-coup behaviors for example). This does not indicate interventionism, but it reinforces the probability that he might wish to govern in an aggressively anti-democratic way. 
20 - Can't make up his mind about Ukraine, but seems to be demanding we become more involved or makes demands that NATO become more involved. 
21 - Wishes to maintain very close ties to Israel, while putting forward positions on NATO/West Pac that are favorably viewed by rivals or hostile states in those regions (Russia/DPRK/China). As a general strategic view of the world, this is very unusual. Israel alone requires military aid without qualifications? Even though it has already a stronger and more advanced military and economy than any of its neighbours/rivals? As a theory of politics it suggests we should only help those who don't need it by being already strong. 
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