Column: What Would Ron Swanson Think of Donald Trump?

Ron Swanson is a man who doesn’t like the government telling him how much bacon to eat, how to comb his hair or if he can bring his gun to work.

Other than their luscious hair, Ron Swanson, the hyperbolic Libertarian character on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump may not have much in common.

Let’s explore what they would think of each other.

Donald Trump has a lot of supporters. At the GOP Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, Trump came in second with 23.4 percent after wooing the party base. A week later, he won the New Hampshire Republican primary with 35.2 percent. But one of the leading candidates in the GOP does not see eye-to-eye with his party, in some very big ways.

Since entering the presidential race and gaining considerable right-wing support, Trump has drawn an incredible amount of criticism from Democrats, Saudi princes and the British Parliament.

While Trump’s political foes are certainly horrified by his hardline immigration stance, foreign policy and hair, some of his fiercest criticism is coming from his own side of the aisle.

“Can you trust Donald Trump to actually be a conservative? I don’t think so,” former Florida governor and fellow Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently said at a Jan. 7 town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Jeb, a Republican, has been one of Trump’s biggest critics during the campaign season, criticizing his past support of Hillary Clinton and blunt style.

Trump seems to have materialized in a cloud of vitriol with the GOP leadership in a chokehold. The GOP is firing back at Trump, and his own party could well become his downfall.

It’s hard enough for a unified political party to win a presidential election. If the Republican Party becomes split on whether to support Trump, it will be severely disadvantaged before the general election begins.

“If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government,” Glenn Beck, the arch-conservative former Fox News commentator, wrote in a National Review article.

“This is a crisis for conservatism.”

Donald Trump speaking at the American Conservative Union's 2015 Political Action Conference in Washington, DC on February 27, 2015. | Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC License
Donald Trump speaking at the American Conservative Union’s 2015 Political Action Conference in Washington, DC on Feb. 27, 2015. | Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

The Republican Party has become synonymous with arguing for a smaller, more restrained federal government. You can hardly listen to a Republican give a speech without a rallying cry against “big government”.

Donald Trump has never stood for smaller anything.

The GOP’s platform, in keeping with its aim of reducing the size of the federal government, adamantly opposes government bank bailouts.

The Republican Party’s platform reads: “In all cases, this rule must apply: No financial institution is too big to fail.”

In a 2009 interview, Trump shared his opinion on the 2009 TARP financial bailouts endorsed by President Obama: “I do agree with what they’re doing with the banks. Whether they fund them or nationalize them, it doesn’t matter, but you have to keep the banks going.”

Donald Trump supported the financial bailouts and has even suggested nationalizing banks. Trump is open to the federal government seizing control of your savings account.

Ron Swanson would be quaking in his moustache at the thought of government having any money, much less Ron Swanson’s money.

Whether or not the bank bailouts were necessary to avert economic disaster, they were certainly a huge expansion of federal influence over the economy. The party of less government and a free market has a leading candidate that suggested nationalizing private banks less than seven years ago.

On Dec. 7, Trump expressed his openness to the creation of a national database to track the location and activity of Muslims in the United States. That would be a huge expansion of the federal government’s involvement in Americans’ lives. Trump’s plan would require the federal government to create bureaucracies that keep track of citizens’ movement and activity, all while monitoring religious status.

“This is not conservatism,” current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Dec. 8 after Trump unveiled his plan.

“What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Regardless of whether or not you agree that Trump’s plan of establishing a database of Muslims and banning their entry into the U.S. would be necessary to protect the country, doing so would mean violating citizens’ right to privacy and the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom. Creating a database that tracks citizens would hugely expand executive power in an unchecked fashion.

Ron Swanson would keel over from that much government activism.

Ron Swanson, the hyperbolic Libertarian character on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” | Photo courtesy of Elliott Scott via Flickr

Ted Cruz has also taken aim at Trump’s metropolitan roots, saying that he “embodies New York values.” The Republican party, which has its voter base in mostly rural areas, looks very different from real estate mogul and reality TV star Trump.

The Republican Party gets a lot of its votes from rural states, none of which has a Trump Tower.

Furthermore, Donald Trump advocates using the federal government to restrict freedom of speech and the press on the Internet. In a Dec. 15 interview with CNN, Trump explained his plan to combat ISIS with the suggestion of asking Bill Gates to help “close the Internet”.

“We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some ways,” Trump said.

“Somebody will say, ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ Those are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.”

Trump does raise the important issue of combating ISIS’s use of social media to recruit fighters.

Twitter recently moved to stop terrorists’ use of its platform, and announced that it had shut down over 125,000 accounts linked to ISIS and other terror groups.

When removing accounts, Twitter acted as a private company operating in cooperation with law enforcement to enforce its own policy that bans terror endorsement. There is a big difference between a tech company closing users’ accounts and the federal government “closing up parts of the Internet”.

Even if you agree that Trump’s proposal to engage in censorship and “closing up” the internet is necessary for U.S. national security, doing so would expand the scope of the federal government’s involvement in citizens’ personal lives. His plan would reserve the right to restrict freedom of the press and violate citizens’ right to privacy.

Trump doesn’t sound much like a conservative, and his plan puts him at odds with the Republican Party.

The GOP’s platform is clear that “there should be no regulation of political speech on the Internet.”

Though with an important objective, a Trump administration would be prepared to use executive power and bureaucracies to impede access to information.

Ron Swanson would sooner eat a kale and quinoa salad than support that plan.

Whether or not you think Trump’s ideas are good for the country, Trump would make the federal government much bigger. Conservatives should think twice before giving Donald Trump the ‘keys to the Internet’, if those were real.


Feature Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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