Monday, February 29, 2016
THE ART OF NO DEAL
“I just don’t want another politician,” my mom said exasperatedly over Sunday lunch as we
discussed the Presidential race. And what a familiar refrain it is…when did we ever want one?
But they’re all we get. Only this year seems different: there is a wave of populist anger surging
in the Republican primary. Yet the majority of the country doesn’t want Donald Trump to be
President; even most Republicans don’t want Trump to be President. And still he remains our
party’s front runner.
While she may be right not to want “another politician,” it’s important to understand why. After
all, doesn’t it make sense that the top political office in our country should be filled by someone
with actual experience in politics? The greatest conservative thinkers in America have warned
the electorate that the Presidency is special and that “experience in other fields is not
transferable. That is why all American presidents have been politicians, or generals.” We value
experience and professionalism in our doctors and attorneys and plumbers—why wouldn’t we
demand it of our President?
So maybe Trump doesn’t have experience—that’s not actually the point. What my mother is
really saying is that we do not want someone who will participate in “politics as usual.” We
don’t want someone cozying up to special interests; a squish. Her argument continues: “We
want a businessman who gets things done.”
The only problem with that is that Donald Trump isn’t really a businessman—he’s a salesman.
Look at how he gets votes: bluster he can’t deliver on (he won’t just build a wall, the Mexicans
will pay for it!), shameless self-promotion (has he told you about his polls?), intimidation (Ted
Cruz better lawyer up), and appeals to the bandwagon (seriously, his polling is fantastic).
Sounds like a politician.
And of course like any good politician, Trump is all about The Deal. He knows how to
compromise and grease the wheels in order to get what he wants. He’s made donations to
purchase “the good graces of politicians—including many Democrats.” But in the end, any
“deal” that is struck between parties involves both sides coming to the table and compromising.
What was the immigration Gang of Eight but a deal? The Gang of Fourteen on judges? The
Gang of Six on the debt? As Trump said in South Carolina, governing with “[c]onsensus means
you have to work hard and cajole and make deals.” In other words, he thinks he’ll be a good
President precisely because he has experience wheeling and dealing like the longest serving
senator. Trump is the ultimate politician.
This concerns me as a Christian. On some things, I don’t want a “deal”—I want a principled
stand. I’m open to compromise on issues like taxation and entitlements—we need statesmen
who can come together and iron out difficult questions and issues. There is no middle ground,
however, when it comes to having my tax dollars used to kill innocent human beings.
Last August, Donald Trump said Planned Parenthood should get no taxpayer dollars, but then
changed his mind just a few days later. In October, he again said he would de-fund Planned
Parenthood, but would not commit to taking an unyielding stand on it. A few weeks ago, we saw
why. Donald Trump thinks Planned Parenthood provides valuable services for “women’s
health.” Setting aside his flip-flopping, it is clear why his latest comment is just wrong. It
doesn’t take a businessman like The Donald to understand the concept of fungibility. The dollars
that the government takes from me and gives to Planned Parenthood help make abortions
possible by paying for the overhead (computers, secretaries, utilities, etc.). That tax money
supports abortion even if my dollars don’t actually buy the curette. There simply are not “two
Planned Parenthoods in a way”—it’s all the business of abortion. Trump wasn’t just sounding
like a politician here: he’s sounding like a Democrat.
Though he has been harmful to our country, you have to respect how President Obama holds
firm when he faces Congress. Not only does he refuse to sign budgets that the Congress sends
him if they don’t have everything he wants (like continued federal funding for abortions), he
even makes it seem as though the Republicans are the ones who are holding the money hostage
and responsible for shutting down the government (as though he played no role). What a
refreshing change it would be to have a Republican stand up to Congress and say “No Deal.”
And after eight years of Obama, we have to have a President who knows which issues should be
Though he recently appears to have changed course again, claiming he would defund Planned
Parenthood, remember that this is the same man who admits that he never asks for
forgiveness…on anything. Given his own words, rest assured that Trump would make a deal on
Planned Parenthood—and so he should not get your vote. Trump wants you to vote for him
because he says he is good at getting his side the best deal. The problem there is that it will be the
best deal by the lights of Donald Trump, not conservative (and certainly not Christian) values.
Were he elected, Trump would use things that should not be negotiable—like abortion funding
and judicial appointments—as bargaining chips in his deal making.
Like so many others, my mom is understandably angry and bitter at everyone in charge: the
“politicians.” But Trump is nothing more than a politician who hasn’t held office. And even if I
believed Trump’s spin that he’s still a great enough businessman to turn around the United States
economy—like Trump University?—I don’t want to make deals on innocent human life…like a