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Trump: Good, Bad, and Ugly

There seems to be a certain air of inevitability that Trump will win the GOP nomination for President. According to a new poll, 57 percent of Republican voters expect that Trump will be the party’s candidate next year. Why is that important?

Expectations Beat Preferences

It’s important because expectations are far better predictors of actual winners than preference polls. From a 2012 NY Times story by David Leonhardt:

Over the last 60 years, poll questions that asked people which candidate they expected to win have been a better guide to the outcome of the presidential race than questions asking people whom they planned to vote for, the study found.

That study, by David Rothschild of Columbia University and Justin Wolfers of University of Michigan, is worth a read. The reason “who do you expect to win” beats “who do prefer to win” is because the former question effectively broadens the survey by a factor of 20 as respondents mentally poll up to 20 of their friends and family.

Additionally, late deciders usually break for the candidate they expect to win by about 60/40, consistent with studies of other animals.

Brace Yourself

While I believe Trump’s nomination could be bad news for the Republican Party, for conservatism, and for the United States, I do think Trump’s candidacy has done some good. And I think Trump could evolve into an effective president.

So here’s everything I see, good, bad, and ugly, about Trump:

The Good

From a sampling of Trumps oft-evolving positions:

  • Political correctness is probably dead, and that’s good thing
  • The First Amendment is stronger because “offensive” speech is a matter of taste, not law
  • There’s a new determination to stop illegal immigration
  • Trump has people talking about making America great again, and that’s what we all should want
  • Trump has long decried foreign currency manipulation and unfair trade practices
  • His position on the important of work is excellent
  • He says he opposes crony capitalism
  • He supports a 0% corporate tax
  • He opposes the mindless war on drugs
  • He supports school choice and competition
  • He supports domestic energy production
  • He opposes environmental extremism while supporting environmental responsibility
  • He stresses the importance of strong families
  • He opposes Obama’s Iran deal
  • He opposes Chinese human rights policies
  • He opposes warrantless government searches and monitoring of American citizens’ communications
  • He opposes ObamaCare
  • He supports peace through overwhelming strength
  • He recognizes the meaninglessness of official unemployment numbers
  • He acknowledges that some people use Social Security Insurance to avoid work
  • He supports tax reform and eliminating deductions, short of a flat tax

The Bad

From the same source:

  • Trump supports high tariffs in a fragile world economy, which remind me of Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930
  • Trump supports Affirmative Action
  • He seems to support continued government funding of Planned Parenthood despite the organization’s continued human right violations
  • While speaking against crony capitalism, he has practiced crony capitalism most of his life, bragging that he “buys politicians” in the first debate
  • Trump has corrupted the minds of otherwise sensible people with his birthright citizenship nonsense. Persons born in the US are US citizens with very few exceptions, like American Indians not taxed, persons under diplomatic immunity, and invading armies.
  • Trump’s immigration plan gives people a false hope that the immigration problem is easily fixed through executive order and legislation. It is not. As Judge Andrew Napolitano points in this video, every illegal we try to deport is entitled to a hearing and an appeal. The most such processes we’ve adjudicated in a single year was 250,000. There are between 11 and 13 million people here illegally. As Judge Napolitano says, “do the math.”

And The Ugly

From my observations:

  • Trump encourages anti-social behavior
  • He whines about “unfair” treatment from the press, and some people believe that’s a sign of strength
  • He shows little interest in fostering a sense of community and purpose beyond “making America great again” rhetoric. I am all for rejuvenating the American spirit, but I want all Americans to participate in that rejuvenation.
  • He encourages a dangerous and fantastical notion that he can do anything as President, as if expecting some authoritarian or dictatorial power.
  • He has inspired otherwise level-headed people to cheer on this idea of an autocratic President–even people who have for years complained of Obama’s autocratic behavior. I would like the next president to prove Obama’s autocratic tendencies an error of history. But if we replace an autocrat we don’t like with an autocrat we do like, then the precedent will probably be set for years to come. What follows our autocrat could be far worse than Obama.

My biggest concern about Trump is the Ugly. I think America needs a unifying leader at this point in history. On the other hand, I have a soft spot for anyone who earns the contempt of the Republican establishment. And Trump has earned that in droves.


From a policy perspective, Trump and I have rather minor differences. If I could influence Trump in only one area, I would like him to learn about conservative solutions for poverty and family breakdown.

If he’s to become the nominee, I hope he will explain his changes of heart more clearly, particularly regarding abortion. His vague “I changed my mind” rhetoric makes me suspicious that he’s simply saying what Republican primary voters want candidates to say.

While I appreciate his candor and lack of political correctness, he could supplement the strong language with clear and bold statements of positive purpose. He could, for example, stress that every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work. He could also emphasize that poverty and upward mobility are highly correlated with:

  1. strong, in-tact families,
  2. racial and economic integraion,
  3. school quality, and
  4. social capital (like strong churches) (Cheety, et al, 2014).

If Trump would augment his speech with positive ideas to rescue our most vulnerable citizens from the twin horrors of government and poverty, he could win over skeptics and critics like me. But to win me over, Trump will need to demonstrate leadership, not just chutzpah. We are at a time in history where we need a unifying leader who can inspire cooperation. We need a leader who eats last.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

9 Comments on “Trump: Good, Bad, and Ugly

  1. Conservatives need to get behind the true conservative Ted CRUZ! He meets all conservative expectations and has a history in Texas and the US Senate as fighting for our constitution. We need to turn back the Obama years with a person who is FEARLESS in the face of opposition. FOR America! For LIBERTY!

  2. I like the fact that Trump has been stirring it up and taking it to Hussein Obama putting him on the defensive, along with some Republicans. However, do not get too enthralled with Donald Trump. He may or may not stay in the race. Trump told Sean Hannity on his radio program 6/16/15 that he would drop out of the race if his message was not resonating with the people. The problem with Trump is he has ran or said he was going to run before and dropped out. More importantly, Trump has contributed to many Statists, including the Clinton’s and he has changed his position on numerous topics. He was for a single payer healthcare plan, but now is against it. He has used eminent domain to steal other people’s property. He clamors against China, but has his clothing line made in China. He has contributed to many of the Statists who are destroying this country, such as Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and more recently Rahm Emanuel. Why Rahm? There were other Democrats in that race so why contribute to “Dead Fish?” Trump’s announcement and speech proclaiming he is entering the presidential race has/is resonating with the public, because he talked up America, unlike Hussein Obama. Hopefully, Trump will continue to speak out about things that need to be spoken about and wake up America. With that said, in the end can you/we trust Trump? Probably not, but he is stirring it up taking it to Hussein Obama putting him on the defensive, along with the cowardly RINO’s, but I am supporting Ted Cruz.

  3. Bill you write, “Trump’s immigration plan gives people a false hope that the immigration problem is easily fixed through executive order and legislation.” It is an easy fix if those in charge have the will to do what is right. What should be done is secure the border; end sanctuary cities by defunding them if they do not enforce the law and prosecute lawbreakers; go after the employers who hire illegals with heavy fines and jail time; deport all illegals. Some consider deporting the illegals an impossible task. It is not. First off, the 11+million, with the emphasis on the plus, did not come all at once. If they did, it would have been considered an invasion, although, in reality it was an invasion. Let it be known that if you are here illegally, you will be found and you will be deported. Deputize all law enforcement to handle illegal immigration. Then, when law enforcement comes across them they would be put into the system for deportation. They would be jailed with a high bond until their hearing and then deport them. There are plea bargains done every day in our court system, so instead of jailing them give the apprehended illegals the option of leaving the country or be placed in jail, until their hearing wherein they then would be deported. Most of the illegals would most likely begin to self-deport. The U.S. is a sovereign nation and our laws should not be flouted, but enforced. It can be done and it should be done.
    Bill O’Reilly has started a campaigned to pass a law, the Kate Steinle law, where any illegal immigrant who has been deported and is caught again would receive 5 years in jail. Why does O’Reilly think another law would have prevented this killing, when current laws are not being enforced by the Obama Regime? There is no need for “Kate’s law.” If a law is not enforced, is it a law? The following are laws already not being enforced: 8 U.S. Code § 1326 – Reentry of removed aliens any alien who—(1) has been denied admission, excluded, deported,… shall be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. …) any alien whose removal was subsequent to a conviction for commission of an aggravated felony, such alien shall be fined under such title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. The answer is to demand from those in charge to ENFORCE the law.

  4. I appreciate a lot of the things Trump says and if he were to win the presidency he probably would do a lot of things that need to be fixed. I do worry that after a while he will get bored, his ego will take over and he might become overbearing and dangerous. That’s not what we need.

  5. Trump may win the nomination and the presidency. If he does we will spend the next four years regretting our decision to support him. He is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. He is a great communicator just like Obama was in 2008. Why would we fall for the same type of candidate again when we now know that a great communicator does not make a great president and great leader of the free world?

    1. The term “great Communicator” may have been coined about Ronald Reagan. He was both a great president and a great leader.

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