This is the second of four articles spanning my discussion with Dave Nalle. The first piece is available.
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
“Long on the fringes of American politics, small-government conservatives were closer than ever to mainstream acceptance,” Politico Magazine’s Tim Alberta wrote in a recent story. “Then two things happened: Donald Trump and Jihadi John.”
Alberta went on to mention that “(t)here are areas, certainly, in which Trumpism and libertarianism will peacefully co-exist; school choice …. is one example. Deregulation is another. But by and large, they cannot be reconciled. Where libertarians champion the flow of people and capital across international borders, Trump aims to slow, or even stop, both. Where libertarians advocate drug legalization and criminal justice reform, Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, seek a return to law-and-order policies. Where libertarians push to protect the First and Fourth Amendments, Trump pushes back with threats of banning Muslims and expanding the surveillance state.”
Is our new president really so adverse to libertarian ideals? If this is the case, he is in marked disagreement with one fellow he has spoken highly of on several occasions.
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism,” President-to-be Ronald Reagan told Reason’s Manuel Klausner in 1975. “I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals—if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”
Within the Republican ranks, one group stands unabashedly to oppose not only the Donald, but any other politico who discards libertarianism.
“The Republican Liberty Caucus is a 527 voluntary grassroots membership organization dedicated to working within the Republican Party to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets,” the RLC declares on its website. “Founded in 1991, it is the oldest continuously-operating organization within the Liberty Republican movement.”
Dave Nalle is the former vice chairman of this caucus. He stepped down to be a regional director late last year because of the RLC’s internal disputes over public support for Trump -- or lack thereof. Nalle, who backed Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, the former two-term New Mexico governor, has always had a strong independent streak. I saw this firsthand when he was my section co-editor at Blogcritics Magazine several years ago.
Nalle has also built a career in the business world. The founder and owner of Scriptorium Fonts, he might be to thank for the style of text you often see in advertisements or use in a word processing program.
I recently spoke with Nalle about many issues relative to libertarian Republican politics. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: One reason the American economy fails to meet standards set by its postwar halcyon era is that it produces a decreasing number of material goods. What would you say could be done to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector?
Dave Nalle: I think an effort to bring back heavy industry is a terrible mistake. Leave it to the emerging economies. We should be retooling and retraining for the industries of the 21st century. Digital technology, information technology, finance and internet driven business. We are in a great position to be the middle men between first world consumers and second world producers and if we don't establish dominance in those markets we will be overtaken.
In the good old days of the post war economy families changed jobs and moved to improve their earning potential every 5 years on average. Physically moving is no longer as big a concern but people need to adapt and change just as often to capitalize on changes in the economy. Many Americans have become complacent and expect business to adapt to us, but it won't and trying to use government to enforce an artificial stability is dangerous.
Cotto: China is notorious for its currency manipulation schemes. Beyond this, however, it not only owns a tremendous amount of America's national debt, but accounts for much of our trade deficit as well. How do you suppose that the U.S. could level the playing field in the near future?
Nalle: We engaged in currency manipulation during the Bush years. How did that work out for us? If China continues that kind of program in the long term it will hurt them more than us. Being tied to the US by trade and borrowing weakens China's ability to bargain with us considerably. They can't afford to provoke a trade war any more than we can and they have much less of a margin on which to survive a collapse.
The best way to level the playing field would be something like the Trans Pacific Partnership to draw trading partners away from China and towards us and build up other nations in the region to be more competitive, but that was handled incredibly badly and it lost popular support. The best way to beat China without something like an improved version of the TPP would be to gradually cut back on borrowing. I don't see that happening. What would be disastrous would be to slap a tariff on Chinese manufactured goods which would just hurt American companies and consumers.