Why Donald Trump Dominates GOP Race: He Has A Bold Agenda And His Opponents Don’t
Donald Trump’s continuing surge in the polls has left his GOP opponents flummoxed and floundering. Some are trying to sound like mini-Donalds. Jeb Bush garnered eye-rolling publicity by referring to “anchor babies” from Asia, as well as Latin America, and muttering about the need for a crackdown. (How? By requiring a pregnancy test for every woman who visits the country and a forced trip to Planned Parenthood if she tests positive?) Scott Walker says we should cancel China’s strongman Xi’s upcoming trip to the U.S. to show our displeasure with Chinese foreign and economic policies. That’ll show ‘em!
And on it drearily goes. One would never know that Trump’s rivals have substantive records in politics, business and/or medicine. Instead they come across as high-pitched miniature dogs, pathetically yapping at an unassailable alpha dog.
They have only themselves to blame for Trump’s steadily increasing lead. Why? Because these veterans of the public square violated the first law of politics: They let Trump set the agenda. There was a vacuum in both policy and, astonishingly, searing criticism of Barak Obama (in the recent debate there were a few passing whacks at Hillary Clinton but hardly a mention of Obama). If you’d asked anyone before Trump’s roaring entrance what the other 16 GOP presidential aspirants stood for, at best you might have elicited a few mutters but no real enthusiasm. Everyone was just waiting for things to unfold. None of the 16 had firmly identified themselves.
Then, like a thunderstorm on steroids, came The Donald, and ever since the 16 have complained that they can’t be heard.
Here’s a hint: To be heard, you have to have something to say, and Trump has plenty to say—and boisterously, too. He singlehandedly made illegal immigration the issue. He also angrily fingered China, Mexico and Japan as villains in our lousy job market. He didn’t duck a fight, no matter who or what was on the other side. Elated, repulsed or just fascinated, tens of millions were all of a sudden watching The Donald. Whether they love him or hate him, everyone knows what he’s been conveying: The country is in big trouble, and big things have to be done about it.
Weak tea is no match for 120-proof bourbon.
So what should the 16 do? Simple. Do what Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and establish a substantive pro-growth agenda. No more namby-pamby bromides. Voters want real meat. They want bold, genuine proposals on reviving the American economy and on dealing with the growing anarchy around the world. Regarding style, they can’t out-Donald the front runner on the hustings, so they shouldn’t try.
But what they can—must—do is lead with their ideas, just like the Gipper did. Rand Paul, for instance, has an interesting flat tax proposal. But you’d have never known it from listening to him in the debate, where he made only one glancing reference to it.
In addition—and it’s sad that Republican wannabe Presidents need to be urged to do this—hit President Obama hard on the issues. The harm he’s done and continues to do is enormous. Cite telling anecdotes on excessive regulation; for example, warn young people that Obama regulators have given themselves the power require people to get permission to set up a website. Point out how Obama has treated the Constitution, as if this document were an irrelevant antique. Hit him with how lousy the economy is. Like Herbert Hoover, Obama and his minions always promise that prosperity is just around the corner.
On the subject of hitting, candidates should go after the Federal Reserve. Monetary policy doesn’t have the instant appeal of one of those naked reality shows, but Americans know in their gut that what’s happened to the dollar in recent years is disturbing and wrong, that its yo-yoing in value isn’t good for growth (any more than a watch that fluctuates in being either too fast or too slow is useful for planning and getting through the day).
Do the candidates feel that they don’t know enough to tackle the Fed? Then they should bone up on it. Monetary policy is more important than taxes, spending and regulation. Without a stable dollar the U.S. economy will remain troubled—and so will the rest of the world.
What would a Reaganesque agenda look like for the stump and in forthcoming debates?
–Taxes. No more baby-talk punts like “I favor a fairer and flatter tax code” or “If a tax simplification comes to my desk, I’ll sign it.” After what the economy’s been through and given the ugly reality of stagnant incomes for most Americans (which is poisoning the political atmosphere), voters deserve specifics. The flat tax is the most dramatic. More than 30 countries today have a variation of a flat tax. They work in stimulating growth and generating higher personal incomes. Washington types will moan that on paper a flat tax would hurt government revenues. Tell them to take a hike: Washington is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around.
Two candidates have plans that use more than one tax rate. They should be reminded that putting two or more tax rates together is like putting two or more rabbits together: They breed. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 had only two tax rates—15% and 28%. The ink had barely dried before the brackets multiplied.
This subject was barely mentioned in the debate. Candidates need to go beyond calling for the repeal of ObamaCare. They should advocate true patient control instead of third-party payers. They should list some ideas that would help do just that, such as instituting nationwide shopping for health insurance instead of retaining the 50-state system we have, which restricts competition and raises costs; having Medicare force hospitals and other providers to post their prices for all services and medications so patients can compare costs for such tests as MRIs, for which shocking variances exist; having Medicare force hospitals to post each quarter how many patients have died from infections received during their stay; removing onerous mandates that ObamaCare and various states impose on what insurance policies must contain, which substantially raise premiums.
Candidates should remember that the economy is the domestic issue.
They should also remember that if they expect to have any hope of ever displacing The Donald, they can’t be passive or vague about what they stand for in future debates or on the stump.
(See Steve Forbes’ new book, Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy—And What We Can Do About It.)
This article was written by Steve Forbes from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.