I agree with much of the GOP platform

The GOP decided to stick with their 2016 platform in 2020:

When Republicans read the platform their party is using for the 2020 campaign, they may be surprised to see that it is full of condemnations of the sitting president.

“The survival of the internet as we know it is at risk,” the platform reads. “Its gravest peril originates in the White House, the current occupant of which has launched a campaign, both at home and internationally, to subjugate it to agents of government.”

That’s true; look how they are going after TikTok and WeChat!

The warning about speech online is one of more than three dozen unflattering references to either the “current president,” “current chief executive,” “current administration,” people “currently in control” of policy, or the “current occupant” of the White House that appear in the Republican platform. Adopted at the party’s 2016 convention, it has been carried over through 2024 after the executive committee of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday chose not to adopt a new platform for 2020.

The platform censures the “current” president — who in 2016 was, of course, Barack Obama — and his administration for, among other things, imposing “a social and cultural revolution,” causing a “huge increase in the national debt” and damaging relationships with international partners.

I agree. The current president has run up by far the largest peacetime budget deficits and trashed our relations with foreign countries. (He also increased our trade deficit.)

Seriously, Trump is the platform. Issues no longer matter; it’s a personality cult. If issues mattered, Jeff Sessions would be the GOP nominee in Alabama.

I occasionally get commenters telling me, “but you agree with Trump on the issues; you just don’t like his personality”. So let’s look at the important issues, and count the number where I agree with Trump.

1. The war on drugs

2. Support for authoritarian nationalism

3. Switching to a consumption tax

4. International trade

5. Immigration

6. Cadillac tax on health insurance

7. Residential zoning

8. Occupational licensing

9. School choice

10. Carbon taxes

11. Big budget deficits

12. Monetary policy

13. Allowing the sale of kidneys

14. Increasing military spending

15. Reforming Social Security and Medicare

16. Abortion rights

17. Sanctions on Iran and Cuba

I agree with the Trump administration on school choice, and I agree with both Trump and Obama on occupational licensing. I disagree with Trump on all the other 15 issues, and in 10 cases (#1, #2, #4, #5, #7, #10, #12, #14, #16, #17) I’m even further from Trump than I am from the Dems. In 4 others (#6, #11, #13 , #15) I’m equally far from both. On consumption taxes I’m closer to Trump. So no, it’s not a question of me agreeing with Trump but not liking his personality. BTW, I also reject the idea that bigotry, dishonesty and corruption are mere “personality quirks”.

Here’s the most important “issue” to me: I want to make the US into a country where people don’t care who is president, a place like Switzerland. The more people care who is president (as in Venezuela) the worse off the country is.

It does make sense for the GOP to stick with the 2016 promises, as Trump has yet to repeal Obamacare, build the wall, reduce the trade deficit, reduce illegal immigration, expel the illegals, rescue the coal industry, bring back manufacturing jobs, and deliver 4% RGDP growth. But maybe this will all happen in the second term.

PS. To be clear, when I say I agree with Trump and Obama on occupational licensing, I mean I agree with their recommendations that states reduce these requirements. I would actually go much further, eliminating all occupational licensing laws. Similarly, I’d completely abolish the public school system.

PPS. I saw this headline this morning:

RNC Naturalization Ceremony Sparks Uproar: ‘This Ceremony Is Not About Worshiping a President

The pre-taped ceremony featured 5 citizenship applicants from disparate backgrounds, with their oaths of citizenship officiated by acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, as Donald Trump watched. Afterward, Wolf effusively praised Trump and the newly inducted citizens were encouraged to do the same.

It appears to be a wholly unprecedented politicization of the naturalization ceremony. No president has ever used such a ceremony as a campaign event, according to the New York Times. And complicating matters further, two weeks ago the Government Accountability Office determined that Wolf is breaking the law by continuing to act as the head of DHS because he was never lawfully appointed.

Of course the ceremony is about worshipping the president! Does the reporter think we are Denmark? We live in a banana republic—it’s long past time for people to get used to that fact.

PPPS. Here’s another example, this time from the left.



26 Responses to “I agree with much of the GOP platform”

    26. August 2020 at 10:39

    Scott, tiktok and wechat both need to go. It foes WAY PAST those apps. THE ENTIRE INTERNET tech stack as you know it, from the metal on up, has to strip China out as a supplier. Zoom is out and doesnt known it.

    As a guy who didnt even have a smart phone, you’ll just have to trust me here. OR if you stipulate to China is spying on US with these apps AND you think thats acceptable, whelp thats too bad for you, bc we live in realpolitik that unfairly favors our natives over the rest of Earth, and not your private utility calc.

    CCP family members need to go as well.

    80% of Chinese can alll be welcomed here!

    You should spend your time cheering that US reward non-CCP and open our doors wide to them, while punishing CCP to affect power dynamic change in China.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. August 2020 at 11:22

    Morgan, You said:

    “you’ll just have to trust me here.”

    Yeah, I’ll trust some random commenter I’ve never met who likes to TYPE WORDS IN ALL CAPS over the free market solution of letting people decide if they want to take the risk.

    Do you also want to ban smoking?

  3. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    26. August 2020 at 13:32

    Why bother to vote?

    “William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, informs us that “Russia is backing Donald Trump, China is supporting Joe Biden and Iran is seeking to sow chaos in the U.S. presidential election. . . ”. I guess that means that Russia and China will cancel each other out and that he’s telling us that Iran will choose the next POTUS. Who would have thought that the fate of the “greatest nation in earth” (as Presidents Trump, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, Bush Sr and Reagan like to call it) would be hidden under a turban somewhere in Iran?
    So, American, know this: your “trusted sources” are telling you not to bother to vote in November – it’s not your decision. “

  4. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    26. August 2020 at 14:20

    The Denmark reference is referring to this? https://www.tv2nord.dk/tv-2/kritik-af-mette-frederiksen-hyldest-i-dr-indslag-skole-afviser-boernene-blev-instrueret

  5. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    26. August 2020 at 15:13

    How would a consumption tax distinguish between consumption and investment? Is a classic car consumption or investment? What about mixed uses, so for example an owner can enjoy the use of a boat and also at other times use it to earn income.

  6. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    26. August 2020 at 15:37

    Youve nailed the biggest issue of the upcoming election: how people feel about Trump. Included in that is how he has managed the pandemic. But the next biggest issue, defunding the police, isn’t on your list. I’m not saying it’s objectively more important, but it’s more important to who gets elected.
    I would move support for nuclear energy above carbon taxes. Carbon taxes could end up being a boondoggle if it means we take the money raised and pour it into renewable energy or people game the system

  7. Gravatar of John John
    26. August 2020 at 16:02

    You listed 17 things you care about, and not one was “not starting new wars?.

    By this metric, the thing presidents have most control over, the Trump presidency is a triumph.

  8. Gravatar of Cartesian Theatics Cartesian Theatics
    26. August 2020 at 16:18

    I think the root of the problem is that the two party system has been hacked and idk if it’s fixable. The government can now threaten the end of the world to justify its platform that at least doesn’t end the world. It’s like the old mafia controlled unions that used to threaten mass strikes, or nowadays the BLM movements that threaten burning buildings down and know how to whip social media (not to dismiss some of the important causes), or now the government that threatens societal collapse with its own party. Of course issues don’t matter when you’re talking about societal collapse.

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    26. August 2020 at 18:25

    I’m sure there are many differences, I’m only 50, but I get the feeling the year 2020 in the US feels in many ways like the year 1968.

    The social unrest, the divisive election, the Asian flu, the Chiefs in the Super Bowl (technically 1967 but still).

    We got through that somehow…

  10. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    26. August 2020 at 23:14

    As John says upstream, the president doesn’t have control over zoning but he does have control over starting a war. By that metric, Trump has done OK (reducing US bases overseas, long overdue, not starting a war and pulling back from Afghanistan and Iraq, talking tough on Iran, less so on North Korea, the last being a disappointment to me).

    Sumner: “7. Residential zoning” – Sumner’s with the Democrats, but, as Ben Cole might agree, zoning is a local issue, and from my 1% family’s extensive real estate, I can inform you that most zoning decisions are influenced by the local citizens, who are very vocal in Northern VA (less so, from what I hear, in free-market oriented Houston, Texas, and less so in Athens, GR from personal experience). In short, NIMBY is a political movement, not something dictated top-down from the US president.

  11. Gravatar of Matthew Moore Matthew Moore
    27. August 2020 at 04:53

    Scott – were these issues in priority order for you?

    ‘I want to make the US into a country where people don’t care who is president, a place like Switzerland’

    What are the conditions that allow this? I assume from the Switzerland example, you favour a smaller federal executive and expanded state autonomy?

    Or is the precursor a much more homogeneous society, with fewer internal political conflicts full stop?

  12. Gravatar of John Brennan John Brennan
    27. August 2020 at 06:43

    I like you comment about Denmark. If ever a nation was given a free pass for anything, that nation is Denmark. They gave up before the French did, gave their coastal assets to the German navy and then fed the Nazi war regime for the rest of WWII. Millions died in Europe while they provided ice cream to Himmler, Goering and their boys. Look it up. We should have taken Greenland last year simply because of this.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2020 at 08:11

    Brian, It’s not always easy to distinguish between consumption and investment, but that’s equally true of an income tax.

    Carl, You said:

    “But the next biggest issue, defunding the police”

    Historically, Biden’s been more supportive of police funding, while Trump’s favored cuts. Do you agree?

    And no, it’s not a big issue in the presidential campaign, as police budgets are set at the local level.

    John, Starting wars isn’t a policy issue–it’s largely driven by events. Candidates almost never run on the “I want to start a war” platform.

    msgkings. I recall 1968 quite vividly even though I was young. (It was the first year I paid close attention to the news.) The biggest difference is that we were not a banana republic back then. Nixon and Humphrey each had 30 IQ points on Trump and Biden. The news media was sober and serious. America was not the clown show it has become today.

    But yes, it was a very eventful year—all around the world.

    Matthew. No, not at all. It’s arranged as I thought of each item.

    On your second question, start with a parliamentary system.

    John Brennan, That sort of bigotry is both offensive and stupid. Please get over it.

  14. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    27. August 2020 at 08:36

    I think it’s ironic that the “defund the police” issue is one of the three big issues in the campaign precisely for the reason you specify: it’s a locally funded issue. Nevertheless, other than feelings about Donald Trump the man, it is the most “tribalizing” issue in the election. That said, I did just go check polling numbers on the issue and Trump’s perceived advantage is smaller than I had thought.

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2020 at 09:13

    Carl, So do you agree that Trump’s the one who wants to defund the police, or at least did in the past?

  16. Gravatar of John Brennan John Brennan
    27. August 2020 at 09:24

    My statements about Denmark have backing by the historical record. Your ad hominem attack is beneath you (perhaps not).


  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2020 at 09:35

    Brennan, You make a bigoted statement about the Danes and then complain that I criticize you?

    And it’s a “historical fact” that the US should invade and conquer part of another country because you don’t like something that a few Danish government officials did 80 years ago? Are you really that bigoted? Look at what we did in Vietnam–should China take Alaska from us?

    Here’s a notice to all commenters. Come on here with your stupid bigoted trash and I’ll call you out on it.

  18. Gravatar of John Brennan John Brennan
    27. August 2020 at 10:08

    Sumner, making statements of fact about history and a cheeky comment about Greenland does not rise to bigotry, nor its actual definition. Your lack of wokeness on this issue is comical (how can I be bigotted against perhaps the whitest of the whitest nations on earth?). However, your ignorance of my argument and your attack on me is ad hominem, so it clearly is not beneath you.

    When I started reading you a dozen years ago or so in the earliest parts of the Great Recession, your arguments on nominal GDP targeting resonated with me due to my research on housing during the 1930’s–foreclosures were the logical consequence of the massive nominal GDP crash of the time. I eagerly read your book on the Great Depression and loved your methodical historical approach. It is a high quality work.

    With respect to Denmark, your mixing of the government and the people to make your point is part ecological fallacy part bad history. Clearly the commoner Dane who did not have to go to war and was able to sell his or her goods or wares (they did not sell to the Allies–obviously,by the way–many of whom were starving) with a very small difference with respect to their pre-1940 condition. They did not overthrow their government, but they knew millions were dying–and the Nazis were eating the food that they willingly made and sold to them. And within their borders, the Nazis were targeting and killing Brits and Americans as they flew over their unmolested, well fed, and well compensated nation. I could call you a neo-nazi, but that would be both wrong and ad-hominem. Kind of like you calling me a bigot.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2020 at 10:18

    John, I assure you that the Danes are no worse than Brits or Americans. You can find dark spots in any nation’s history (including the US), but that’s no reason to trash a country.

  20. Gravatar of John Brennan John Brennan
    27. August 2020 at 11:10

    Scott–I agree with much of this.

  21. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    28. August 2020 at 02:11

    ‘”Trump hasn’t started any new wars!”: yes, but he’s maintained or expanded every existing one (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen), launched a coup/economic war on Venezuela (on top of the ones on Cuba & Nicaragua), and done every thing he can to start a war with Iran.’


  22. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    28. August 2020 at 06:15

    Scott said “Bigotry, Dishonesty, and Corruption are not mere personality quirks”

    Well, who disagrees with that? Not me. While by definition I am biased toward who I support, I believe I have read and seen these comments on other media countless times. Meaning, these are general accusations. But rare are the specific examples. An example of corruption I recall is pilots using Trump hotels in Britain. Or, he is in hock to Russian banks. Dishonesty are WAPO’s 20,000 lies (e.g., size of inauguration crowd). Bigotry? Actually, have never seen a specific accusation—-just presumed because of his anti-riot stance—-or the “fine people hoax”.

    I am sure Scott could list 50—but I likely think 45 of them are accusations.

    And, boys and girls, that is the difference between Trump supporters and Trump haters.

  23. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    28. August 2020 at 07:21

    @Scott Sumner

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. August 2020 at 07:53

    Michael, No examples? LOL.

  25. Gravatar of Smorgasbord 2020-9-2 – Letter to K Smorgasbord 2020-9-2 – Letter to K
    2. September 2020 at 18:03

    […] The political conventions are now over. The Democrats have a platform, but I haven’t read it, since their real platform is “Our candidate meets basic standards of stability, decency, and competence.” The GOP recycled their 2016 platform. I could lampoon this, but Scott Sumner got there first: […]

  26. Gravatar of Noah Laikin Noah Laikin
    25. March 2021 at 03:40

    Hi Scott, what are your thoughts on the Critical Race Theory narrative pushed by much of the progressive Dems?

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