If there is a sure path to defeat for Republicans and conservatives, it is classifying all dissenting opinions from allies as coming from “Democrats” or “Socialists” and “Communists.” Granted, this is not a new problem within the GOP or the broader conservative movement, but it has gotten much worse thanks to the cult mentality surrounding Donald Trump. An example of this cult mentality is this comment on my letter to the editor in the Indianapolis Star:
Scott Tibbs, so you like the old status quo of a bad situation do you. We finally get an active President who really cares about America and you complain. Are you a communist or socialist Scott?
I do not agree that lower import taxes are a “bad situation,” but that was not the point of my letter. The point was that legislative authority – specifically taxing authority – was given to the legislative branch, not the executive branch. It was only ten years ago when one of the main goals of the Tea Party movement (hardly a Communist organization) was to restore constitutional government, limit executive power, and limit government intrusion into the economy more broadly. This was seen as a “radical” movement, but it had strong libertarian streak. The people at Tea Party rallies in 2009 and 2010 would have burst out laughing if you had described them as Communists.
The comment is also typical of another bad tendency, which has infected both the Right and the Left: Instead of actually addressing an argument that was presented, categorize someone as being part of a “bad” group to avoid the argument. For the Right, the person would be a “Social Justice Warrior” or a “Communist,” while a Leftist would dismiss someone as a “racist” or “homophobe.” This tactic is steeped in dishonesty, hypocrisy and cowardice. It is tribalism, not serious intellectual thought, and that tribalism does not deserve to be treated with respect.
So not only am I not backing down, I am going to double down: The President was never intended to have the authority to raise or lower tariffs, and it is a perversion of the constitutional order to grant him that authority. It does not matter if the policy is good or not: If Trump was lowering tariffs he would still be wrong. Our abandonment of this basic conservative principle sets a dangerous precedent that will be abused by a Democratic President in the future. We should not toss away our principles and the rule of law out of a sycophantic loyalty to or worship of Donald Trump.