Many Trump supporters are new to this political game, and I think it’s time I explained something.
First, republicans are not monolithic. We do not agree with each other. We disagree a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean, a lot. In fact, there is not one single topic I can think of that all republicans would agree to.
Let me introduce how I see the republican party. I’ll divide it up.
The first division has to do with power, and who holds it.
First, there is the republican leadership. This is all the people who are in power, either in government or in the party organization. It also includes all the people who republicans tend to listen to. There are a lot of people in the republican leadership. I consider myself part of it, since I am a PCO and I’m pretty good friends with the district leader where I live.
Note that the republican leadership really runs the party. We decide what the party does and what it stands for. Note also, that we do not agree with each other. Not even a little bit. When there is a shift in leadership, there is a shift in tone and direction. Everyone has their own idea of what the Republican Party should stand for and how it should work. And we don’t agree.
Next, there are the “lay” members of the Republican Party. These include the people who write checks and who wave signs but mostly don’t do much else besides vote. It also includes the people who tend to just vote R on each of the ballots they get.
Finally, there are the marginal republicans, people who usually vote republican but sometimes vote democrat or don’t vote at all. Or they usually vote democrat but sometimes vote republican. They tend to be obscure, tend not to contribute, and they tend to have strong opinions that they don’t express to anyone in the Republican Party. We have to use a crystal ball to figure out what these people want, and we usually get it wrong.
I’d like to interrupt to say that Donald Trump has few supporters among the leadership, a lot of supporters among the lay members, and a remarkably huge amount of support from the margins. Donald Trump represents the marginal republicans asserting their authority over the other republicans, and because they have so much support from the lay members, the leadership is scared. Not me personally, but you can see that there is a lot of angst up the hierarchy.
Let’s look at ideology. Suffice it to say, if there’s a position, you’re going to find republicans who support it.
One area to look at is foreign relations. I’ll break this down into three areas:
- Immigration Policy
- Trade Policy
- Foreign Policy
On immigration, I think the vast majority of republicans want to seal the border against illegal crossing. Some don’t want to build a wall nor do they want to enforce the law at the border.
Continuing, there is the question of what to do with the illegal immigrants already here. Some want to keep the status quo (deport those who break the law in some other way), some want to grant them amnesty, and some think we should be proactive in finding and deporting them. I myself lean towards the status quo. I don’t think poorly of those who want to be proactive, but I am opposed to those who want to grant amnesty. With amnesty, comes the question of whether they should be put on a path to citizenship or whether they should be forever barred (until they change their immigration status legally.) If I had to go with amnesty, I would not put them on the path to citizenship, unless they legally change their status to immigrant. That would involve getting in line behind all the other immigrants.
And finally, on immigration, is the question on who we should allow into our country. I believe that we should maintain open, secure borders. Let anyone who wants to come here to work or to play come. However, they need to prove to us that they come for peaceful purposes, and if there is any question, we should default to “no.” Others want to close the border to entire countries, which I don’t disagree with too much. Others think we should just let everyone in, which I think is dangerous.
There’s also the question of who can become a citizen, but I think we have a pretty good system in place, even though it is clunky. Basically, if you want to become American, you have to live here for a long time, keeping our laws. You have to understand our government and political traditions. And you have to swear an oath. The only thing I might add is that you would need to own property and show fluency in English, which is our de facto national language.
There is the question, of course, of foreign workers who take our jobs. What people forget is that they are already taking our jobs. The question is whether we want them to work here or in their home country. I believe having them work here is the best option, so I support anyone coming here to work, even if it means “unfair competition”. I myself compete everyday with Chinese and Indians, and I know that my salary is lower because of it, but I would rather have them here than have to think of moving to China or India to do my job.
This leads us to trade policy. Unfortunately, despite Adam Smith settling the question once and for all in the 1700s, we do not agree on whether free and open trade is best. A lot of republicans are protectionist, probably the majority. I’m not. I like to point out that the reason why Marxists hate Adam Smith is because Adam Smith makes people rich, and rich people don’t like communism.
Foreign Policy is the question of what do we do about other countries. I subscribe to Theodore Roosevelt’s philosophy: Speak softly but carry a big stick. Meaning, be nice to everyone, but keep the biggest military on hand just in case things get uncivil. Many in the Republican Party agree, but others think we should be more pacifist or more aggressive. There’s a lot of debate and this is an issue that divides the party.
Let’s look now at economic policy. Unfortunately, this is tied into things like health care and poverty. I’ll list the topics I’ll cover.
- Tax Policy
- Spending Policy
- Entitlement Programs
- Health Care
- Environmental Regulations
- Regulations in General
On Tax Policy, I think most republicans agree taxes are too high. I think this is one of the issues that keeps getting republicans elected and resonates with everyone. Some feel we should have more taxes in some areas. There is a large contingent that wants the Fair Tax. Very few think we can abolish taxes altogether. I am one of them.
On Spending Policy, we all agree we want less, but we can’t agree on how to cut it. One of the tactics used is to point out how absurd spending is in specific areas, but generally, republicans can’t agree on what to cut.
Welfare is when government gives money to poor people or companies. Republicans are generally opposed to it, but many republicans feel like a “safety net” is important. I believe a “safety net” is the reason why so many people don’t work and why we aren’t doing more to help each other in our own communities. I’m for abolishing all welfare, corporate or otherwise, but I am not popular at all on this position.
Entitlement Programs are entitlements that people have earned, such as Social Security, Medicare, or veteran’s benefits. Republicans generally don’t want to touch this, but some people think a reform is necessary. The reformers tend to want to ensure the status quo can continue. I am pretty much alone in thinking we should just abolish the entitlement programs. Write a check that gives people we promised money the lump sum of the value of that promise in today’s dollars. And then never, ever make any promises to anyone ever again. If you want veterans to get benefits, give them more money, or buy a policy with a lump sum one-time payment. I believe that too much money is hidden in the entitlement programs and it just invites fraud, especially when others take power. I also believe we should never make promises we can’t keep, and we cannot make future generations keep those promises.
Health Care is pretty divisive in the Republican Party. Some want to abolish all the regulations, like myself, but we are a very small minority. Most want to liberalize the health care industries by permitting things like purchasing health care from other states or even other countries. Some want to make sure poor people get health care, but I think I’ve addressed that under “welfare”. The vast majority of republicans agree that Obamacare, or rather SCOTUScare, is a disaster, but many want to “replace” it with something better.
Environmental Regulations, again, are a divisive issue. Many want the government to take an active role in the park systems, in ensuring air and water quality, etc. Others want the free market to work its magic. Many republicans do not think carbon dioxide is a threat, but many do. If I were to try to find the one thing we agree on, I think it would be that we think the environment exists to be managed amd exploited by us. Yes, let’s keep it clean, but let’s not keep people from using the national parks and let’s not stop people from hunting and fishing and cutting down trees. At the same time, let’s ensure we leave the environment better than we found it so our children and grandchildren can enjoy a better lifestyle.
Regulations in general cover all the little rules that government makes. I think we all agree that there are too many regulations, but we disagree on how few there should be. I tend to be towards the lower end of the spectrum, wishing that regulations were few and far between. I think most republicans see regulations as how industry, government, and the people get a say in what the rules should be. We’re perfectly happy when the oil industry shows up to tell us what regulations they want, and we’re perfectly happy hearing about the effects these regulations might have on the environment, for instance. Government should be the place where everyone comes together to find a good solution for all.
As you can see, the Republican Party has a wide variety of opinions, and so it should come as no surprise that we have a wide diversity of republicans. It’s not just the party of the “rich” or “powerful”.
If there was one thing I think that binds all republicans together, it is respect for the law and the principles in the constitution. It is also unabashed patriotism and a willingness to get things done, whether or not government involve. Yes, we complain and moan and fight, but in the end, we respect each other and we don’t mind the fact that our neighbors don’t agree with us.
Where does Trump fit in? He’s definitely republican, even if he doesn’t carry the conservative banner on most issues. Trump’s appeal is that he is bringing in marginal republicans and exciting lay republicans, even though he is attacking the republican leadership. I think we deserve the criticism aimed at the leadership, who have often failed to listen closely to the lay and marginal republicans on most issues. An in failing to listen, we’ve lost their attention.