I recently read an article by Joshua Zeitz that was published in Politico Magazine talking about President Trump’s actions that were against norms. Specifically, Zeitz talked about the threats of Trump destroying the presidency, American democracy and eroding the institutions that we have. Any time I read such language about President Trump, I cannot help but laugh. As I’ve shared before, President Trump told everyone exactly what he was going to do before he was elected.
Throughout the article, Zeitz shares how many of the norms that President Trump is accused of breaking are relatively new. In fact, much of it as recent as the 1930’s according to the author. As I read the article, one thing specifically stuck in my mind. The issues he described came about as part of rapid government expansion. Zeitz even mentions this briefly in the following statement:
That changed in the 1930s and through 1950s, as first the New Deal, then World War II and—finally—the Cold War necessitated a vast expansion of permanent federal authority and, with it, an increasingly powerful and autonomous executive branch.
Zeitz talked about the temporary swelling of the federal government with significant events like the Civil War and World Wars. Then he brings up the norms that came about as part of this government expansion starting in the 30’s under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He talks about how politics became big business and that’s easy to see.
If you look at charts describing the US National Debt tied to big events, someone can easily see how the growth of government led to big business opportunity. Since FDR’s administration, the US national debt has not been below 31% of GDP. But the issue goes much further back. The expansion of the federal government really began in 1916 under President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, a Democrat, took us from $2.9 billion to $21 billion in national debt during his administration. Much of this can be tied to World War 1.
The debt generally held through the next several administrations, again ballooning under FDR to a whopping $236 billion from the $23 billion at the beginning of his administration. Since this time, the deficit has grown with each administration. Aside from Truman (3%), Eisenhower (9%) and Kennedy (8%), each President has added a double digit percentage or more to the national debt. Republicans and Democrats alike have failed to control the growth of the federal government.
So back to the reason for the article. Why is everyone in Washington, DC upset that President Trump is breaking up the norms? While Trump is far from perfect, could it be he may be the first President in a long time that is not concerned about the money? He continues to donate his presidential salary to various causes and government agencies. He has also lost a significant amount of his net worth since running for the Presidency.
Others, like Nancy Pelosi and many others, have made big business out of their “time of service.” So as Zeitz describes corruption all throughout government, it’s no wonder that some people around Washington, DC are upset. Trump has specifically said he wants to root out corruption. Before he was elected, he promised to address it. Is it really surprising he’s actually doing it?
So while the elites around DC want to complain about Trump and his actions, I think we should take a step back and look at what’s going on. No, he isn’t perfect. But if he can address corruption and start the return to smaller government, that should make conservatives everywhere rejoice.
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