Trump, the Anti-Libertarian
At the behest of President Trump, federal agents have been occupying Portland since at least June 27th.
The local government doesn’t want them. Both of the state’s senators don’t want them. The governor doesn’t want them.
And yet, here they are. Some federal agents are not identifiable, wearing only fatigues. Some are wearing Customs and Border Patrol insignia. (Portland is about 374 miles and 941 miles from the Canadian and Mexican border, respectively.)
Viral videos have shown these shadow forces pulling up to peaceful demonstrators and whisking them away in unmarked vans. No arrest warrants, no probable cause.
Ostensibly, the agents are there to “protect” federal land, such as the federal courthouse. But routinely these suspect arrests/kidnappings have occurred blocks from the courthouse on local Portland land, raising questions about the legality of the whole operation.
But rest assured, freedom loving Americans. Chad Wolf, acting secretary of DHS, claims that these agents “aren’t the Gestapo.”
“DHS Secretary Assuages Concerns About Protestor Abductions By Promising This Will All Feel Routine In A Month,” satirical outlet The Onion quipped.
Following Portland’s rousing success, the Trump administration has chosen its next targets. Chicago, New York, and Detroit — your liberation is coming.
As with so many of Trump’s inadequacies, the first thought is often “what if Obama did this?” Imagine a group of peaceful, right-leaning protestors in a deep red area. They’re gathering to raise awareness to some issue they care about, perhaps fetal rights or the ability to posses an automatic rifle. Then, against the will of the local and state government, Obama deploys unmarked federal agents and essentially abducts American citizens in unmarked vans in the dead of night.
But it’s Trump. There are so many scandals to get to. C-block on cable news seems about right.
Trump’s authoritarian instincts with Portland are hardly out of the ordinary. Since the early days of his administration, the president who pays routine lip service to the ideals of freedom and autonomy has promoted neither.
Libertarians generally support the free flow of people and money, civil liberties, fiscal responsibility, and the protection of private property. While libertarians often vote third party, a significant share of freedom fighters are sympathetic to the Republican party. Indeed, for so many eventual Republicans, a youthful libertarian phase is seen as a rite of passage, particularly for young men.
A political operative once told me that the only difference between a libertarian and a republican is whether they support marijuana legalization. While this is certainly an over simplification, libertarians and republicans generally share the same enemy — liberals, especially progressive ones.
It was apparent that Trump would disappoint libertarians early on. One of his first enacted policies was the so-called Muslim Ban, which restricted travel to seven majority-muslim countries.
The government, in its infinite wisdom, was instructing citizens which countries they could or could not visit. It was the nanny state on steroids.
But Trump didn’t stop there. The federal government banned flavored e-cigarette pods, restricted legal immigration, imposed tariffs on foreign goods, and, courtesy of executive action, outlawed bump stocks for guns.
When states attempted to exert control over local issues, such as establishing fuel efficiency standards, the Trump administration overruled them. To build his wall, Trump’s federal government will be seizing private property along the border.
“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,” he once proclaimed.
Fiscally, Trump is no libertarian either. Obama ran deficits as low as $442 billion in 2015. Trump’s three annual deficits thus far are $666 billion, $944 billion, and $1.02 trillion. Libertarians, long defenders of free trade, should be appalled that Trump’s tariffs cost each American family about $2,031 per year according to one estimate.
The list continues: marijuana, death penalty, foreign wars. Trump is no libertarian. Hell, he may not even be a conservative. But he is an anti-liberal, and for some, that’s enough.
If he were to make a pitch to libertarian voters, President Trump would most likely highlight deregulation and religious freedom initiatives, but the totality of his policies and worldview run counter to the libertarian movement.
In the 2016 presidential election, the Libertarian Party received 4.5 million votes, a huge success in a system designed to keep out third party candidates. The current flag bearer of the movement, Jo Jorgensen, is polling well behind 2016’s pace.
Considering that the official party website calls Trump the “opposite of a Libertarian,” could it be that a Biden administration could better uphold libertarian principles?