Donald Trump’s concept of the federal government’s proper role ought to make any conservative cringewrites Benny Huang.
Last week, the GOP’s leading candidate answered a question from an Afghanistan veteran named Robert Kitelinger who asked, “In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?” Trump listed security, healthcare, and education.
He said something a little different in August 2015 when he listed his top priorities as the military, veterans and jobs. These two statements are not necessarily irreconcilable of course.
… Perhaps his priorities shifted over the last eight months? That’s possible however unlikely. A better explanation is that he can’t remember what he pretended to believe yesterday much less what he pretended to believe eight months ago. That was then and this is now.
… Though I’m not certain the questioner intended to put Trump’s conservatism to the test, he did and Trump flunked. Two of those three issues should have nothing whatsoever to do with the federal government. I’m speaking of healthcare and education, neither of which can be found among the federal government’s enumerated powers. According to the tenth amendment, those powers should be left “to the States respectively; or to the People.”
Security is and should be a federal responsibility. The preamble to the Constitution tells us that one of the federal government’s purposes is to “provide for the common defence.” … What’s happening on our southern border can rightfully be called an invasion and no one’s doing anything about it.
So Donald Trump is standing on solid ground with the first of three functions he named. Yet he’s weak even here because there’s reason to believe that he doesn’t mean what he says. Political positions are as disposable to him as wives or that pledge he signed to support the eventual Republican nominee. Nor does Trump strike me as the type of guy who really cares about the tidal wave of third world immigrants—both legal and illegal—crashing on our shores. He is, after all, a member of the employer class which has always sought to reduce the price of labor by increasing its supply. In the past he’s admitted to using illegal aliens from Latin America as landscapers at a golf course he owns in Florida.
… I suspect Trump’s lying about security, most of all border security, because it’s hard to imagine a man who has benefitted so handsomely from cheap labor actually turning off the immigration spigot. He might do it if only because he will want to be reelected and it will be hard to make people forget the promise he made a thousand times over.
But what about the other two functions of the US government Trump identified? This is where Trump goes off the rails.
… Donald Trump … either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the defined boundaries of federal power. It’s hard for him to imagine any government being too massive or too powerful as long as he’s at the head of it. That scares me, though not as much as the fact that he’s leading the Republican delegate count with only seventeen states to go.