Classical Liberalism in the Trump Era

For classical liberals, Trump is obviously not the ideal solution and the Institute is not going to render an opinion on who would’ve been a better choice – we prefer to let bygones be bygones. But we should at least analyze what we know of his upcoming Presidency and discuss where his policies and view agree and disagree with our classical liberal philosophy.

Trump’s policies are very difficult to categorize and analyze however as they changed repeatedly during the campaign and don’t line up with traditional party lines. This is typical of the populist breed of politicians to which he belongs.

The issues we agree with the incoming President on particularly surround domestic deregulation, lower taxes and non-intervention. Trump, in general, has run a pro-business platform with regard to internal intervention in the market. He has also appointed a pro-educational choice Secretary of Education, who despite her other undesirable attributes, can be counted upon to support charter schools and educational choice for all, including the working class. On foreign affairs, excluding trade and relations with Russia, Trump also holds a non-interventionist (pejoratively called isolationist) point of view, in which America will step away from its role as the world’s police man.

While we agree with him on these issues, there remain many fundamental incongruities between our ideas and his. He, for example, believes in ad-hoc intervention in the market in order to protect jobs and has already done so.  This perspective is fundamentally incompatible with the classical liberal respect for the rule of law and a free market. He also advocates a return to protectionism, which will cause more harm than good to those low-skilled workers he is looking to protect. Trump is also advocating a Government stimulus package in a stable economy, which is both irrational and will cause a ballooning deficit. Trump has also displayed a contempt for freedom of speech and the press and appointed an anti-marijuana Attorney General.

Thus, while Trump’s administration may well have a positive effect on deregulation and taxes, classical liberals will be required to respond vigorously to any proposals of a larger Government, of protectionism or of a decrease in citizen’s rights.

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