Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Why Trump Won’t Make America Great Again

by

For those acolytes of Donald Trump who are still holding out hope that he is going to make America great again, give it up. It’s not going to happen. It was a pipedream from the get-go.

The reason is very simple: A nation cannot ever be great when its government is all-powerful. The bigger and more powerful the government, the weaker the nation.

Trump doesn’t get that. Neither do most people, especially liberals and conservatives. The only ones who get it are us libertarians.

In the minds of both conservatives and liberals, the federal government and the country are one and the same thing. Thus, they are convinced that the bigger, more powerful the federal government is, the greater the nation will be.

Not so. It’s actually the exact opposite.

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that we are not talking about one conflated entity consisting of the federal government and the country, as most conservatives and leftists think. We are talking instead about two separate and distinct entities — the federal government and the private sector of Americans. The private sector is the country. The federal government is the federal government.

Our American ancestors understood this distinction clearly. Their mindset was reflected in the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the country (i.e., private individuals and their fundamental rights) from being destroyed or infringed by the federal government.

It’s also important to understand is the nature of the economic system and the governmental system under which Americans live today. While most Americans have been indoctrinated into believing that their economic system is a “free-enterprise” one, the truth is that it is actually a welfare state and a government-regulated economy.

The governmental structure under which we live is a warfare state, a national-security state, or what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” It consists primarily of the Pentagon and the CIA, including their massive empire of domestic and foreign military bases, and the NSA, whose powers to spy on the American people are, for all practical purposes, omnipotent.

Both of these systems equal the most powerful government in history. But at the same time, these two systems have produced an extremely weak country, one filled with people who are dependent on the government for their sustenance, healthcare, education, and other essentials, and who are also filled with fear of everything that moves, and who are cannot imagine life without the dole or without the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. In fact, just to contemplate the possibility of living life without the welfare state and the warfare state frightens many of these people to death.

Look at the Baby Boom generation. Back in the 1960s, many of them were willing to confront the federal government directly on the Vietnam War, with massive protests, demonstrations, and burning of draft cards.

Today? Notwithstanding the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East and, now, Africa, the Boomers are nowhere to be seen or, even worse enthusiast cheerleaders of such wars when their man, Barack Obama, was president. That’s not just because they are older. It’s also because of Social Security and Medicare. This is what a dole society does to people. It turns them into submissive and compliant wards of the state, scared to death to upset federal officials for fear of having their dole reduced or even eliminated.

Consider the massive debt that the U.S. government is incurring on a daily basis, especially to fund Social Security, Medicare, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. Every senior is smart enough to know that the higher the debt gets, the greater becomes the burden on young people in the future.

How many seniors are openly and publicly protesting what the federal government is doing to their children and grandchildren and other young people with its ever-growing national debt? Very few. That’s what the dole does to a society. It silences people when they should be protesting. It brings to mind the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox: “To sin by silence when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men.”

Consider the hundreds of thousands of people that the U.S. national-security state has killed overseas for the past 20 years. Consider the large number of foreigners it continues to kill on a regular basis.

What is the response of the country? Praise the troops. Support them. Pray for them. They’re sacrificing to protect our rights and freedoms.

In the process, the all-powerful national-security state has stultified people’s consciences. I’ll bet that not one single church in the United States has ever exhorted its congregation to pray for the people who U.S. forces have killed, injured, and maimed in foreign countries, notwithstanding the fact that all those dead and injured people never initiated any act of violence against the United States and, at worst, have resisted or retaliated against U.S. interventions in their countries. To pray for the victims of U.S. aggression would be considered by many U.S. ministers to be unpatriotic. It also might interfere with church fundraising.

And what is the response of the dole society to the federal government’s never-ending “war on terrorism”? People on both the left and the right love it and support it. That’s because they have swallowed the official line — that the terrorists hate us for our freedom and values, not because U.S. forces have invaded their lands, bombed them to smithereens, tortured and kill their family, friends, and countrymen, supported their dictators, impoverished, starved, made them ill, or killed them with sanctions and embargoes, instituted coups, or incarcerated and tortured people in foreign lands, all for daring to resist foreign aggression on the part of the U.S. warfare state in countries thousands of miles from America’s shores.

That’s another result of an all-powerful government — the ability to mold people’s minds into believing whatever the government wants them to believe. This mindset of deference to authority and conformity begins in the first grade in public (i.e., government) schools, where children are taught to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and of course never told that it was written by a socialist).

Look how scared the country is. Despite (actually because of) having the most powerful government in history, Americans are the most frightened people in the world. They are scared of the terrorists, the Muslims, the drug dealers, the illegal aliens, ISIS, North Korea, China, the communists, and whoever else the government tells them to be afraid of. That’s why so many of them are so eager to isolate the country with walls, immigration controls, travel restrictions, and trade barriers while, at the same time, protecting the unconditional “right” of the federal government to continue killing people abroad with its invasions, occupations, coups, sanctions, embargoes, partnerships with dictators, and other interventions.

Look at the reaction among both the left and the right when we libertarians call for the abolition, not the reform, of Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, education grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and other welfare. They have an absolute conniption fit. “How could people survive without their dole,” they cry. They have lost all faith in freedom, free markets, free men and women, and the virtues of voluntary charity. That’s what an all-powerful government has done to people’s sense of self-reliance, “can-do,” and faith in themselves and God.

Our American ancestors lived under an entirely different economic system and governmental structure. For more than 100 years, there was no welfare state. No federal income tax or IRS. No Social Security, Medicare, or other dole. No Pentagon. No CIA. No NSA.  No foreign wars, torture, assassination, indefinite detention, or alliances with dictators.

Our American ancestors had a genuine free-market economic system — one where the federal government did not interfere with, regulate, control, or plan people’s economic activities. No minimum wage. No price controls. No Federal Reserve System. No immigration controls.

For more than a century, the federal government played an insignificant role in the lives of the American people (and the people of the world). Our American ancestors lived under a federal government that wielded and exercised few powers.

That’s what made America great. It’s what made the country self-reliant, responsible, moral, and charitable. It’s also what made Americans free.

The reason that Trump and his acolytes will fail to make America great again is that they want to leave the welfare-warfare state intact. So do his critics on the left. They just want Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or some other leftist to be in charge of the system. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand that as long as America has a welfare-warfare state way of life, the country can never be great (or free) again.

The only way to make America great again is by dismantling (not reforming) the welfare-warfare state way of life and restoring America’s founding libertarian principles of freedom, free markets, voluntary charity, and a limited-government, constitutional republic.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.