The campaigns of Ben Carson and Donald Trump once looked unrealistic, but they kept rising in the polls.
Many political pundits said they’d eventually fade and drop out, but they kept rising in the polls.
And then other candidates, the establishment in both parties, and the media viciously attacked them. Yet they survived … and both keep rising in the polls.
Carson and Trump have enthusiastic supporters. They’re bringing new voters into the party, and both poll very well against Hillary Clinton, especially in battleground states. So why is a traditional conservative like myself seriously worried about a potential Carson or Trump ticket? Simple: because neither seems to believe in American conservatism and our movement’s organizing principle – limited government.
One candidate would increase the government’s power to regulate speech – with no thought as to whose speech would actually be silenced. The other sees nothing wrong with the government snatching property from one citizen and handing it to another.
First, let’s look at Trump.
Our Founders believed, as did philosopher John Locke, that one of the reasons governments are instituted is to protect the property of its citizens. We all know that we have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but it was Locke who first wrote that our rights were actually to “life, liberty, and estate.” Thomas Jefferson saw no distinction between property rights and liberty itself, and conservatives have carried that torch throughout our nation’s history.
“Property rights,” philosopher Milton Friedman once wrote, “… are the most basic of human rights and an essential foundation for other human rights.” President Ronald Reagan agreed. During a radio commentary in the 1970s he said, “an individual’s right to possess and control his own property is fundamental to freedom itself.”
So what does Trump think?
Most conservatives believe the worst attack on liberty in recent years was the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The justices ruled that eminent domain could be used to seize private property not just for public uses like roads or bridges, but to sell to developers in hopes of gathering higher taxes from the land.
Conservatives were appalled. Trump was delighted.
“I happen to agree with it 100 percent,” Trump said after the ruling in 2005. “If you have a person living in an area that’s not even necessarily a good area, and government … wants to build a tremendous economic development … now, I know it might not be their choice, but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands … of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good.”
Trump obviously doesn’t believe in limited government, and if anyone thinks he wouldn’t increase its power, especially the often-abused presidential executive order, then there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.
Now onto Carson.
Next to ensuring we have private property rights, one of the best reasons to keep government limited is to protect our right to free speech. History proves that if a government has the ability to silence its critics, it will. The only way to protect this right is never give government the ability to control it, even if a benevolent, well-meaning man is the one doing the controlling.
So when Carson was asked a question about the Department of Education, his dangerous misunderstanding of American conservatism shined brightly through.
Carson said that he would use the department to “monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.”
Setting aside the absolute affront to limited government and free speech, who does Carson think would implement his proposal, what are their ideological leanings, and what speech would they consider “bias” on campus? Our education bureaucracy is planted thick with leftists. Give them the power to monitor and punish political speech and it wouldn’t be liberals who were targeted, it’d be conservatives and perhaps even moderates who stray from their institutional group-think. Besides, where would such powers end?
It’s been fun, but now it’s time for the Carsonites and Trumpsters to face the facts: both men have great things to offer our nation, but they cannot be trusted to rein-in our overgrown government.