Opinion

Even if you're ready to burn the world down, don't support Donald Trump

A Trump presidency would look a lot like his career so far: a lot of big announcements, but few real accomplishments

The conservative movement's resistance to Donald Trump has been almost completely ineffectual. And at times, they let Trump's incoherence become the basis for making their own criticisms of him incoherent. Consider how normal people might react to hearing Trump accused of being at once a liberal Democrat like Obama and a European fascist. But in the last few days, perhaps too late, that movement and their champion, Marco Rubio, have finally hit upon the truth about Trump: He's a fraud.

That line of attack has the virtue of truth, and people tempted to throw in with Trump should consider it. Many people in or around the conservative movement — people I know — are so disgusted with the political and intellectual atrophy of the Republican Party and the conservative movement that they are anxious to blow the whole thing up via Donald Trump's candidacy. They believe Trump's verbal crudity is a small price to pay to break up the civilized crudities that pass as normal conservative politics, like the desire to launch more wars of choice in the Middle East, or the American economic and immigration policies that enrich elite clients and leave the average Trump supporter worse off. I wouldn't begin trying to argue that such people should support Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton. Just don't actually support Donald Trump; he will make a fool of you.

The idea that a man so proud of the serial abandonment of his wedding vows, his creditors, his customers' interests, and his past political personas will suddenly find the integrity and strength of will to deliver on campaign promises is not just impossible to believe, it is the kind of fantasy that discredits the person who entertains it. Donald Trump's business career includes many ventures in which he sold people on promises he didn't intend to keep. Expect his campaign to be no different. Most of Trump's business is lending his name to the kind of product lines marketed at arrivistes who will never actually arrive. Trump wears Italian suits by Brioni, according to his former advisor and clotheshorse Roger Stone. But the "pro-American worker" Trump sells Trump-branded suits and ties that are made in Mexico, China, and India. And yet he has the stones to sell his supporters over his supposed anger about Carrier air conditioners moving to a plant in Mexico, or a promise he's going to call up American car manufacturers and personally bully them into leaving Mexico. C'mon.

Trump University is exactly the type of venture that foreshadows the Trump presidential campaign. Trump sold people on the institution with videos of Trump making extravagant promises about the quality of the school compared to his own Wharton, but it turned out to be a fleecing operation of the worst sort. The leaders of Trump University were given instructions on how to get potential students to go deeper into debt. A Trump presidency would yield for its supporters the same rotten disappointment.

Trump can and likely will win the Republican nomination shortly. Hillary Clinton, an extraordinarily weak campaigner, will win the Democratic nomination, making a Trump presidency a real possibility. If he wins, my expectation is that by the end of Trump's first term, perhaps 50 miles of wall would be half-constructed on the border, not paid for by Mexico. Trump would likely institute his "touchback" amnesty plan, and some thousands may take advantage, but millions of illegal immigrants would probably prefer to live as they have in the United States, and overall immigration enforcement would relax.

American foreign policy would turn on public opinion, causing Trump and his hyper-aggrieved sense of honor to involve our nation in military commitments he doesn't bother to understand or have patience to see through. His strategic absence of mind may be accompanied by his relish at instituting things "worse than waterboarding" as he promised. By 2020, no major trade deals will have been renegotiated and the de-industrialization of the American nation will continue at the rate jobs can be outsourced and machines can replace human labor.

In other words, the Trump phenomenon that is proving everything we knew about electoral politics wrong in 2016 will also prove that governance is much more resistant to dramatic change. Trump would end up relying on the substantial portion of the Republican Party that helped elect him, perhaps even passing many items from the GOP's pre-existing elite agenda. It may be a victory over the GOP's current apparatus of power, but it would be a bitter pyrrhic victory. Such a victory would rely on of all the hostility Trump and his supporters have for others, but would result in no gains for his supporters or their country.

A Trump supporter aware of Trump's history might argue that at least his candidacy is good for trolling the political class. My response is simple: Are you sure you're the one doing the trolling?

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