There’s a reason that most countries in the world – especially in Europe – don’t really have a fiscally conservative movement like we have here in America: fiscal conservatism is a hard sell. The idea that government should spend less and do less is an idea that, for the last several decades, has been almost uniquely American in the West. Everywhere else, it is taken for granted that the government should have a massive amount more power (and economic scope) than what it does in America.
The idea that government should provide more “free” services is an almost impossible one for voters in a Democracy to resist. Any time a government can promise an immediate, tangible benefit to its citizens in exchange for some future consequence that will probably land on someone else, they stand an excellent chance of earning that citizen’s vote. Not for nothing did de Tocqueville observe that the greatest threat to a free Democracy is the ability of politicians to bribe people with their own money.
In America, we have withstood the tide of this siren call – not well, but much better than Europe has – solely because one of the major political parties in America has held fast to the idea of lower taxes and less government as a matter of necessary political orthodoxy. Up until this year, you had to at least tip a nod to the idea that taxes should be lower and government should be smaller in order to get the Republican nomination.
Trump, however, neither believes in any of that, nor is willing to even say it is a good idea. I have watched probably 30 Trump speeches in their entirety this year, and never have I heard him discuss a government program that should be cut. Never have I heard him discuss a regulation that is crippling American business that should be repealed. Never have I heard him say that taxes should be lower; in fact, when he mentions taxes, it is to note that they should be higher (on the “rich,” so that he does not have to be more openly liberal than the Democrats). Never has he said that we should bust up government employee unions (in fact he criticized Scott Walker for doing it) or reform pensions that are crippling state budgets. Never has he opposed the massive medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
Everything, in fact, that Trump says he stands for is for government to be better, classier, and bigger. That’s why he’s a huge and open fan of eminent domain abuse.
If a person can run on the idea that it should be easier for the Federal Government to forcibly confiscate your property (so they can build better and classier things in its place) and win the Republican primary, then fiscal conservatism no longer even holds a veto in the Republican party. And if it doesn’t even hold veto power there, it is dead nationwide. And if that impulse is dead as an electoral force for good and for all, then here we come Europe.
Trump likes to say that he will Make America Great again. Even if Trump can do half the things he promises, the end result of his nomination as the standard bearer of the Republican party is that we are ten years or less from joining the Brits, French, Germans, and Greeks in basically accepting that the government should run our healthcare, our workplaces, and our economic sector, and just bickering about who can do it most efficiently.