Donald Trump? President??!

Donald Trump, it seems, is seriously considering a run for the White House.  This makes the race quite interesting, because, for the first time since 1992, three people would be on the ballot for the job.

The appeal in having Donald Trump as President is very simple: he doesn’t need the job.  He already has, by his own admission, enough money.  He also has enough power – he runs a massive organization, and employs hundreds of people to do what he tells them to do.

Running a private company is a good thing, and Mr. Trump has it.

That’s an appealing prospect.

I can’t, of course, vote in US elections simply because I’m not a citizen of the US.  I’ve voiced my opinion before and got myself attacked by those in the US on the far left for “telling us how to live” or some such rubbish.

That’s wrong on two fronts.  First, I have every right to hold and express my opinion, even when it’s contrary to someone else’s.  They have every right to debate me, and present counter points to mine.  In fact, I hope they do – life would be extremely boring if everyone agreed all the time.  Discussions where everyone agrees are usually quite short:

Person A: Okay, we have 30 minutes allotted for our meeting, so let’s jump right in.  I think we should do X.  What do you think?

Person B: I agree.

Person C: I agree.

Person D: I agree.

(Uncomfortable pause)

Person A: Okay then… um… so…

The second point is this:  what happens in the US affects me here.  If the US economy tanks, then business gets harmed here as well, since the US is Canada’s largest trading partner.  I have a direct, vested interest in the US economy.  Thus, while I can’t vote in the US, I have a right to hold and, in the hope of influencing people in the US, express that opinion.

In order to form an opinion on the prospect if a President Donald Trump, I have started paying close attention to the things he is saying – in interviews, on Twitter, and on his YouTube channel.

I respect Donald Trump.  I won’t say I like him, and don’t think I could work for him.  He’s tough, brash, in-your-face, and seems like a bulldozer when it comes to putting a deal together.  It works for him, and all the more power to him for it, but it isn’t my style.

But having respect for a guy isn’t all that’s needed for determining whether he’d be a good President of the United States.  For that, we need to look at what he’s talking about, and what he wants to do.

Trump has made few policy statements so far.  He obviously hasn’t released an official platform, but we can infer many things about his platform based on what he has said in interviews and such.

Trump talks a lot about the domestic economy.  That only makes sense, given the awful economic administration of Barack Obama.  Trump is right: people need jobs to get the economy rolling, and that’s where things fall apart.  Trump claims foreign countries are “taking our jobs.”  He’s correct that many jobs are moving abroad, however he seems to suggest that it’s due to the US administration making “bad deals.”

Once country he sets clearly in his sights is China.  Many manufacturing jobs are moving to China, yes.  The question is, why?  More importantly, can – or even should anything be done about, and if so, what?

In a recent interview, Trump said he’s impose a 25% tax on China.  What?  How do you tax another country?  Okay, I think he meant he’d impose a 25% duty on all Chinese imports – and that’s certainly something he can (with Congress’ approval) do.  With that in mind, we have to look at the ramifications.

He’d spark a trade war between China and the US.

Remember – a billion people live in China.  They have their own economy of scale contained within their borders.  That’s a huge advantage.  I don’t like the Chinese government any more than anyone else, but we have to keep this in mind.  When you have one sixth of the global population within your borders, you’re a big, key player.

China holds a very large part of the US national debt.  So, if the US began a trade barrier against China, I can see China taking a number of approaches in response:

First, their government would likely say, “that’s okay, we’ll just do business with someone else,” cutting a huge chunk out of the US export market, and, second, they’d probably start selling a bunch of US bonds on the market, pushing the price down.  That would make it more difficult for the US to borrow new money in the short-term, which is something the US will need to do for a long time to come.  That would exacerbate domestic economic issues for the US, as interest rates would be forced up.

China would also have a new source of funding for R&D and investment by their central planners to become more competitive on the world market – all on the back of the US.

Imposing tariffs on doing business with China is an isolationist, protectionist policy, and in a global economy, would only serve to do more harm to the US than good.

Bad idea.

Policy plan aside, whether Trump likes it or not, he has to understand that the US government does not work like The Trump Organization.  President Trump would not be in charge of congress – they aren’t going to fall into step with him and do his every bidding just because he said so.  He can’t bring congressional leaders into his Boardroom and say, “we are doing this.  Get it done,” or, “you’re fired”.  Congress will likely push back; and he’ll have to negotiate.  Trump clearly doesn’t mind making deals – he says its his art form – but I think he’ll find dealing with congress quite frustrating.  These are people with their own political agendas, pet projects, and congressional seats up for grabs, and all of that will come into play.  Combine that with the idea that it’s likely the Republicans will resent an independent President Trump because he denied them the White House, and, ideologically, the Democrats won’t agree with him, I can see many an impasse on the horizon with Donald Trump occupying the White House.

I agree with Trump wholeheartedly that Barack Obama is a disaster of a President.  He makes President Jimmy Carter look good – a very difficult thing to do.  Let’s assume then, for sake of discussion, that a bad Republican President would still be better than Barack Obama.  Would it be a good idea for Donald Trump to put his name forward on the ballot?

As I noted above, Trump seems very Republican-ish in his ideology.  That’s fine, but what that would do is split the anti-Democrat vote.  States that would have otherwise gone Republican in the Electoral College would see critical Republican votes taken away from the republican candidate in favour of Trump, which could, depending on the differential, send the state over to the Democrats.  Trump could, instead of saving the US, doom it, simply by running for (and ultimately losing) the job.

Anne Coulter once said, “you have to pick a team,” and she’s right.

Given all that I have said here, I think my position is obvious.

Donald Trump is a highly successful man.  I don’t begrudge him his success and wealth one bit.  I respect him, and I listen to what he has to say, because I’d like to learn a few things about business from him.

However, when it comes to President of the United States, on policy, Donald Trump is not the man for the job.  Strategically, he shouldn’t even run.

About Steven Britton

Steve is a freelance programmer, partial billionaire, dad, Recovering Atheist, Conservative, and occasionally prolific blogger.