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Harsanyi: Why I’m not freaking out about Trump

David Harsanyi

The era of Trump hasn’t even started yet, and the entire establishment keeps using the term “era of Trump” as if things have actually changed. They haven’t.

If you’re genuinely interested in being an effective critic of the next president, acting like Adolf Hitler is pounding at your doorstep every time Trump tweets something might not be the most effective plan in the long run.

The left has been astonishingly hypocritical on so many issues related to Trump that it’s a bit difficult to move forward without pointing it out. Joining activists who’ve spent years attacking the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments — and now the Electoral College — in a newfound veneration of the Emoluments Clause is a bit much.

Of course, Trump should be held accountable for his potential conflicts of interest, and one hopes conservatives who value good government will stand up when tangible evidence emerges that they exist. But the critics on the left aren’t serious about the Constitution. They’re serious about the Democratic Party.

Who can take journalists seriously — who’ve not uttered a word of concern over the Democratic Party’s crusade to empower government to ban political speech by overturning Citizens United — when they lose it over a tweet about flag-burning? If it were up to them over the past eight years, Trump would now be imbued with far more power to achieve the things they fear — unilaterally.

There was more angst over the president-elect ditching a reporting pool to have a steak than there was over any of President Barack Obama’s numerous executive abuses. So when you hear people say democracy needs journalism “now more than ever,” remember that they’re admitting they weren’t doing their job yesterday. We also needed journalism more than ever back then.

Those who kept telling us that Hillary Clinton’s corrupt foundation and blatant favor-trading with the world’s most illiberal regimes were merely a conspiracy theory now act as if the republic will crumble if Trump’s hotel hosts the same Bahraini princes that were buying access in the Obama administration. The same people who told us Clinton’s emails were a silly distraction are now horrified that former Gen. David Petraeus — who, like Clinton, shouldn’t be in any Cabinet, but who, unlike Clinton, actually paid a price for his mishandling of classified information — is under consideration for a position in the new administration.

Moreover, Trump hasn’t really done anything out of the ordinary — not yet.

What’s really upset Democrats is that traditional conservative policy proposals will probably be moving forward. The overwrought rhetoric used to describe the overturning of Obamacare or the reforming of entitlements would be precisely the same if we had President-elect John Kasich.

Trump’s Cabinet nominees are the kind of run-of-the-mill selections any Republican would pick. You’ll remember that last week America was supposed to freak out about the chaos and sluggishness of the transition process. Then it was supposed to freak out about the potential white-maleness of the Cabinet. Well, his Cabinet members Nikki Haley, Elaine Chao, Seema Verma, and Betsy DeVos are going to be just as extreme to the left as an actual extremist.

Dr. Tom Price is going to be accused of plotting the death of the poor because he opposes Obamacare no matter how many times the American Medical Association endorses him as secretary of Health and Human Services. This is because he’s a Republican, not because he’s being nominated by Trump.

But Trump’s crony bailout of Carrier Corp. is disturbing because it sounds a lot like the “economic patriotism” agenda of the left. It’s a bad deal for American workers in the long run, but sadly, “picking winners and losers” is not outside the norm of big-government politics. If Obama had pulled off the Carrier deal, the same people would have been complaining on opposite sides of the issue.

Moreover, Trump’s contention that giant infrastructure bills and government spending are economic drivers is also something conservatives should oppose. But that doesn’t make this the era of Trump; it means we’re still in the era of Washington, D.C.

Freak out accordingly.

David Harsanyi, author of “The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy,” is a senior editor at the Federalist.