Former Fox News Channel broadcaster Glenn Beck, now of The Blaze TV, has been warning theatrically of an inchoate catastrophe should the country choose Donald J. Trump “as its next president.” Trump “will be a monster much, much worse” than Barack Obama, says Beck.
Worse than George W. Bush? Will Trump be worse than the 43rd president, who is ranked 37th by Ivan Eland, author of “Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty”? In Eland’s near-exhaustive appraisal, Bush II falls in the category of “bad,” for having “undermined the Republic at home and abroad with interventionist policies,” policies Trump has criticized. Stumping for Trump, Sarah Palin has taken pains to praise Rand Paul’s libertarian recommendations that Jihadists be left to “duke it out” alone in the Middle East.
President Obama is a dreadful cur. About that Beck’s correct. Like Bush, Obama has made it into the “bad” presidential category. But whereas Obama allowed Hillary to henpeck him into destabilizing one country, Libya; Bush Jr. gave the world the Iraq-Syria Axis of ISIS. Ranked 34th on the measures of peace, prosperity and liberty, the 44th president is “only a slightly improved version of George Bush.”
The charismatic Ronald Reagan, the man “conservatives have enshrined as a demigod,” was certainly as forceful as Donald Trump. Reagan was also remarkably perceptive in his anti-communist oratory. The “evil empire” appellation was as catchy as it was warranted. But face it; “tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” didn’t bring down the Soviet empire. Neither was Communist Russia crushed by Reagan’s exorbitant “Star Wars fantasy of space-based missile defense.” Rather, Communist Russia collapsed under the weight of a centrally planned economy (the kind Brainiac Bernie Sanders and his supporters are eager to usher in).
Those of us who love No. 40 for his ability to express the immutably true principles of liberty and free-market capitalism must face the facts. While Elan loses some credibility in ranking Reagan after Obama among American presidents (perhaps because Elan understates the damage done by Obamacare), Reagan did “instigate the Iran-Contra affair,” “let federal spending rise,” “did not reduce big government,” and cancelled out the benefits of a large tax cut by not coupling it with spending cuts.
The lesson here is plain. When you get down to the brass tacks of which American presidents most embodied the values of peace, prosperity, and liberty (PP & L), you find only few—a handful really—acted wisely, avoided unnecessary wars, “demonstrated restrain in economic crisis” and foreign affairs, practiced free-market capitalism and favored hard money; opposed big government and welfare, and limited executive and federal power.
Ranked No. 1 is the stellar John Tyler. He ended “the worst Indian wars in US history,” practiced restraint in an international dispute, “opposed big government and protected states’ powers.” Grover Cleveland is second, as an “exemplar of honesty and limited government.” Martin van Buren excelled—especially in rejecting economic stimulus and national debt and balancing budgets. He ranks third. Rutherford B. Hayes is fourth. Likewise, he didn’t just preach but practiced capitalism and advocated for black voting rights, while recognizing the ruthlessness of Reconstruction.
In the context of the American presidency and our lost Constitution, Beck’s alarm over candidate Trump is peculiar. Not many American presidents lived up to republican ideas of liberty and limited authority.
“Where are the people who say we stand with the Constitution,” protested Beck. Trump fails to talk about the Constitution in depth, he blathered.
True. Trump is not a TV talker. Moreover, all candidates who talk about the Constitution “in depth” are dishonest. For there is no Constitution left to talk about. That thing died over the course of centuries of legislative, executive and judicial usurpation. That’s why when Iraqis were composing their Constitution (after no. 43 destroyed their country), the late Joe Sobran recommended we give them ours because we don’t use it.
Mention of the Constitution means nothing. It’s on the list of items candidates check when they con constituents. Beck went on to OMG it about Trump saying this: “President Obama’s irresponsible use of executive orders has paved the way for him to also use them freely if he wins the presidential race.”
Amen—provided Trump uses executive power to repeal lots of laws, not make them. We live under an administrative “Secret State.” Very many, maybe most, of the laws under which Americans labor ought to be repealed. The only laws that are naturally inviolable are those upholding life, liberty and property.
Trump, thankfully, has proclaimed: “the one thing good about executive orders: The new president, if he comes in – boom, first day, first hour, first minute, you can rescind that.”
Beck has protested. He apparently accepts the inherent legitimacy of Barack Obama’s executive orders. Beck also seems to believe that the Constitution, or some other higher order, demands that people continue to labor under burdensome government edicts forever after, and that to promise repeal is the act of a progressive.
“Ted Cruz,” countered Beck, who has since endorsed candidate Cruz, “is the guy who says he’s for certain principles and will be tethered and tied to them, exactly like Ronald Reagan was.”
Well, another of Eland’s discomforting observations about Reagan is that he “enhanced executive power through questionable means. Although presidential signing statements, accompanying bills passed by Congress, had been around since George Washington, Reagan began to use these signing statements to contravene or nullify Congress’s will without giving that body a chance to override a formal presidential veto.”
There’s nothing necessarily progressive about overturning laws that have been passed.
There is nothing sacred about every law an overweening national government and its unelected agencies inflict on the people. “At the federal level alone,” the number of laws totaled 160,000 pages,” in 2012. By John Stossel’s estimation, “Government adds 80,000 pages of rules and regulations every year.” According to the Heritage Foundation, “Congress continues to criminalize at an average rate of one new crime for every week of every year.”
America has become a nation of thousands-upon-thousands of arbitrary laws, whose effect is to criminalize naturally licit conduct.
Is Beck implying, in his objection to Trump’s promise to repeal Obama’s executive orders, that laws subjecting over 300 million people to the edicts of one have moral force?
Rather than uphold individual rights, most positive law regulates or criminalizes the business of life.
The nullification of man-made laws comports with American freedoms just fine. Donald Trump had better sit at his desk for a chunk of his first term and issue one executive order after the other to do just that.