Conservatives: Stop Moving the Goalposts for Trump

Donald Trump is convinced he can manipulate anyone with his brilliant financial mind. His true believers, as they watch him doing everything they railed against as anti-market folly for years, anxiously tell the critics to “wait and see what happens before passing judgment.” This means they have forgotten, or they are hoping you have forgotten, what we are supposedly “waiting for.”

The question of Trump’s trade war policies is not, primarily, whether his tariffs will work — whatever “working” means in this context. The question is whether the U.S. Federal Government ought to be punishing private Americans with heavy new taxes (which is what his tariffs amount to), restricting their private efforts to find good deals on products they want, and in general using the coercive power of the state to micromanage and skew (i.e., overturn) the free market.

We already know Trump is doing those things, so there is nothing to wait for. One merely has to decide whether one agrees with those policies or disagrees with them. If one reduces the issue to artificial questions about whether these policies “improve the economy and bring about a better deal with China,” then one is merely moving the goalposts — away from the deeper questions of liberty vs. tyranny — in order to avoid thinking anything negative about one’s idol.

So go ahead and have the discussion: Should the government control commercial trade, pick winners and losers, subsidize those being harmed by its own policies as a form of ameliorative redistributive justice, and so on? Or not? Make the case. Don’t just pick sides, as though these decisions were being made “above your pay grade,” and therefore that you can do nothing but “wait and see what happens.” It’s happening. Do you agree with it, on principle, or do you disagree with it?

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