“Make America Great Again”

Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan was a great success. It resonated with a lot of voters and in my opinion was the main reason he won the election (along with a lot of votes that were simply against Hillary).

But in all the rhetoric associated with that slogan and his campaign, there was no mention whatsoever as to what it was that originally made America great. If one examines the founding political principles of this country, one principle stands out above all – individual rights.

Based on this principle the Founding Fathers devised a system that was unprecedented in human history, a system that restricted the power of government via a constitution. This prevented a dictator from rising to power that would be nothing more than a substitute for King George III.

Included in this basic principle is the right to property, which means the right to use and dispose of material values. It also means that production was vested in the hands of private entrepreneurs with no government interference.

It should be stressed that the constitution was severely flawed in three main areas; it did not abolish slavery, it granted the power of eminent domain which is a blatant violation of property rights, and it granted the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce.

But the underlying principle of a constitution to restrict the power of government was and is the greatest political achievement in mankind’s history. It replaced “might makes right” with the rights of man. This political freedom, along with the great scientific discoveries of the era, paved the way for the unprecedented production of wealth in areas of transportation, communication, construction, energy, and medicine – just to name a few. This is the cause of the tremendous wealth, the ever increasing lifespan and standard of living, and the relative peace that has characterized America.

Additionally, two other principles that are derivatives of individual rights were of paramount importance in America’s growth – free trade and open immigration. Contrary to the xenophobia inherent in collectivist systems, America welcomed foreigners and the products of foreigners. Americans recognized that under a system of individual rights, there was no inherent conflict among men, that free trade benefited both parties, and that people who emigrated from collectivist cultures for the freedom of America also had a right to life and were not a burden, but a benefit to the economic wellbeing of the country.

Now let’s examine Trump’s policies and see whether or not he upholds the underlying principle that made America great. Even a cursory knowledge of his policies clearly shows he does not. His promises to retract free trade agreements with other countries, his desire to impose tariffs on imported goods, and his determination to build a wall along the Mexican border put him in the same camp as the collectivists of the world.

Also, in Trump’s business dealings prior to his election, he benefitted from eminent domain in building his real estate empire. Eminent domain gives the government power to expropriate private property for “public” use. (There is compensation for the property owner but he is still forced to accept the exchange and give up his property). This power can be used for the benefit of some private parties at the expense of others. Trump repeatedly lobbied government agencies in this area to extort property from owners who refused to sell to him, claiming that it promotes “economic development”. This allowed him to expand his empire but certainly didn’t help those whose property rights were destroyed.

Trump’s mantra of “making deals” to benefit America sounds benign on the surface but examining his views on deal making closer reveals that he believes there is an inherent conflict between parties in such deals. In an interview during his campaign he said deals are “give and take”. Then he said “But it’s gotta be mostly take. Because you can’t give. You gotta mostly take”.  Therefore a “deal” to him is a win-lose proposition, and he projects this same attitude towards trade with foreign nations. This is the root of his antagonism to free trade.

Trump’s policies show that he exhibits the same xenophobia inherent in the collectivist policies that have been systematically destroying America for decades. His policies will not “make America great again,” – they will do the opposite.

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